At a Glance
Engine: 383ci/325hp V-8
Transmission: 4-speed manual
Rearend: 3.23 gears
Interior: Black vinyl bucket seat
Wheels: 14-inch GTX (Magnum 500) front, 14-inch Rocket rear
Tires: F70-14 front, L60-14 rear BFGoodrich Radial T/A
Special parts: Sig Erson racing cam, headers, Holley carburetor
This story begins 47 years ago, when 16-year-old Steve McCraw was a school bus driver for the Cleveland County (North Carolina) School District. His good friend Mitchell Guffey called him to rave about a yellow 1966 Charger he’d noticed parked at a used car dealership in Shelby, North Carolina. Over the next week, Steve mustered the courage to tell his father, Billy Joe McCraw, about the car. Steve asked his father if he’d go with him to look it over. After seeing his son’s excitement, the elder McCraw agreed.
Steve says it was love at first sight when he laid eyes on the Charger for the first time. He and his father walked around the car, sizing it up. They opened the hood to reveal the 383-inch V-8 engine. They opened the driver-side door and noticed two rectangular pedals to the left of the gas pedal.
But one look at his son revealed how much he wanted the car. Reluctantly, he agreed to help him buy it.
As the two discussed the idea of purchasing the Charger, Dad did something completely out of character. He pulled out his wallet, took out $100, and handed it to his son. “I am going to give you this money to help you out with buying this car,” he said. It was the most cash he’d ever given his son. To this day, Steve is grateful to his late father for providing the down payment for the car of his dreams.
Not long after buying his Charger, Steve decided to give it more power. He added a racing cam, headers with side pipes, and a dual-line Holley carburetor. The horsepower increased substantially, but he found out quickly that it came with a price when he noticed the fuel economy was cut in half. With this setup, Steve estimates the car averaged 5-7 mpg, depending on how hard he pressed the gas pedal.
That kind of fuel economy became a real issue for him with the start of the oil embargo in 1973. The increasing fuel prices, and the odd/even-day gas rationing program put in place, made it illogical and expensive to drive the Charger for long trips. To make matters worse, Steve used high-octane fuel, further draining his wallet. He drove the Charger less and less, instead choosing to drive the Plymouth Fury Gran Coupe he bought new in 1973. The Gran Fury turned into the everyday driver until 1976, when he bought a Ford truck to serve as a work vehicle. With two other vehicles in the family fleet, driving the Charger became an afterthought.
The Charger went into long-term storage in 1977, parked outdoors on Steve’s property. It remained there, exposed to the elements, for six years. Then, in 1983, Steve sold his home, and the Charger was moved to his father’s place, where it was stored outdoors next to a tractor and tool shed.