What kind of automotive icon can make 200 mph runs at Bonneville while remaining street legal enough to tear around town? The answer is builder and designer Jimmy Shine’s personal project: a 1968 Dodge Charger with enough power, sound and personality to turn the heads of whoever it leaves in its wake.
It all began 18 years ago with the dream of gunning the Mopar monster across the Bonneville salt flats at 200 mph. The project actually started off as the subject of a TV show featuring Jimmy that was going to consist of two one-hour specials set to run on Discovery Channel. When those plans fell through, the muscle car ended up sitting around in a building in Beverly Hills for about 15 years before being rescued by Jimmy in the summer of 2019. The years that the Charger had spent in storage were far from kind to the majestic beast, but as Shine says, “at least the backbone was there.”
The car required a lot of TLC in order to return it to all its late 60s glory. Jimmy and his team at the time got some of the work completed before the car’s 15-year hibernation. This included collaborating with Ron Jenkins from Monster Garage on areas such as the Dodge’s suspension, which was rebuilt using parts from Magnum Performance.
Upon being rescued from the confines of its Beverly Hills exile, the car was still missing many critical components, chief among which was the engine. Jimmy remedied this by tracking down a 1970 426 HEMI block that had never been run in a vehicle.
While the engine had never been abused, it had also never been completely machined. It took a lot of work, but now the previously untouched engine is the snarling, beating heart of the reborn Charger with its stroked 494 cubic inch engine and custom MagnaFlow exhaust system, ready to dominate the streets as easily as the salt. The vehicle’s stripped out, race-ready interior belies the car’s Bonneville aspirations. When it came to selecting a transmission, Jimmy opted for a Torqueflite 727 in reverse manual configuration, built by Joe and Mike Perano of Westminster Performance Transmission.
Still, there is some more work to be done. “I’m not in any kind of mad rush,” says Jimmy. As it’s his personal project, Jimmy is taking his time to revel in the process of finishing the Dodge and curating every single component on the car, “down to the rocker shafts underneath the valve covers that no one will ever see, but I know they’re there, and it just makes me smile.”
The personal connection he has with the build has reminded Jimmy why he loves cars in the first place. “It’s really reinvigorated me.” When he started working on the Charger again after 15 years, all the memories from that time came flooding back, “things I just totally forgot about, and I kind of got to relive that, and that’s what really makes cars very special. You have this attachment to it for whatever reason. It’s not just a car, it’s the memories and the people that are associated with it.”
While Jimmy is currently focused on getting the car to a state where he can just enjoy it, take it on cruises and bring it to meet ups, he’s open to potentially bringing it out to the salt flats at some point to truly put it to the test. For our part, we look forward to seeing this formidable Charger do its thing, whether that’s on the road or off. Stay tuned to our blog and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter to follow along on the next steps for this build.