How I came to own my Panther Pink R/T...

Back in 1987 my friends and I went to the huge old-car swap meet in Pomona, California. This regular swap meet is huge by any standards. At the time the length of the aisles added up to 11 miles. There is also a large area with cars for sale. By the time my friends and I worked our way through all the parts vendors we were usually too bushed to look at all the cars. We did have that 2 hour drive home to San Diego to look forward to. Usually we would just walk through the middle of the cars and since I'm tall, I could usually spot things of interest to make a detour to check out.

On this particular day on our way back to the car, I noticed a car with an open trunk and an unmistakable color inside. It was probably about 3 rows over but clearly identifiable from that distance. We worked our way over to the car and found that it was a 1971 Dodge Charger R/T that had been spray painted black all over except for the inside of the trunk. If the owner hadn't had the trunk open to load up to go home, I would have never even noticed it. The odd thing to me was that the color, Panther Pink, wasn't available in 1971, but a brief inspection of the car led me to believe that the car came from the factory that color.

In talking to the owner, he explained that he needed to sell the car and get something more practical since his family was expanding soon (or maybe the mrs. just didn't want the ugly beast around anymore, the car that is.) Seems a rip roaring 440 Magnum engine isn't as thrifty as one might like. I just happen to have had a clean 1980 Pontiac Sunbird that I got from my parents. In no time a deal was struck and a even trade was to be made.

Since I didn't have the title to the Sunbird with me, we made arrangements to meet the next day and exchange cars and titles. The owner lived in Glendale, California, a good two-hour drive from San Diego. We arrived at the designated time and of course things weren't going to go my way. The car and the owner were nowhere to be found. Turns out he had gone on an errand. When he did arrive he was kind of waffling on the deal. Since the swap meet, he had talked to friends and they told him the car was worth a lot more than the Sunbird and he wanted to back out. I pointed out that the Charger had serious condition problems including major bondo, rust and the running condition wasn't that great. He finally agreed to go through with the deal as promised. Further complications arose when he could not produce the original window sticker that he said he had. Although he said the engine had been rebuilt, the car was not running that great and a 2-hour drive to San Diego in a questionable car was definitely a scary proposition. Being an experienced junky car buyer, I had the foresight to have a friend drive up in his car so I would be sure to get home somehow.

It was getting late and dark so we headed out to the freeway to go home. Right off the bat problems arose. For some reason the turn signal wiring was modified with the main harness going to the steering column had been cut off and several switches wired in to work the lights. With my friends following me they noticed that the lighting was not working properly. We just had to press on and they were going to act as my taillights. A few miles down the road I noticed that the engine temperature was rising to a uncomfortable level. For some unknown reason the car was starting to overheat. We had to stop several times on the way home to let the car cool down and add water. We finally made it home and the car has been in San Diego ever since.

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