We were given a wonderful opportunity to team up with the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Minnesota this past January when we heard about Matthew’s wish to have his 1968 Dodge Charger restored. And after over 5 months of hard work, Matthew’s Charger is finally complete. We felt this partnership was a great fit and couldn’t wait to help out, so on January 12th, we set off for Northern Minnesota to pick up the car and see what kind of shape it was in.
You can imagine Matthew’s excitement when he found out we were there to grant the wish that he had patiently been waiting over a year for. We trailered the Charger back to our Minnetonka Ford store where we immediately began with a mechanical evaluation. We made sure to document the process of the restoration through a series of blog posts with videos and photos. You can check it out here. The story created a lot of buzz throughout the community and we were excited to be able to share it with everyone. We soon realized the amount of dedication and compassion that is present within the Morrie’s community amongst employees when they began volunteering their time and energy to help with the restoration.
It has been a long and rewarding process to help make Matthew’s wish come true and we were so thrilled to be able to finally surprise him this past weekend when he was least expecting it. We planned to have Matthew and his family visit for the weekend to tour a few of Morrie’s vehicles. He had no idea that towards the end of his tour, he would find his 1968 Dodge Charger, fully restored and finally complete. We held a small event with members of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Morrie’s employees and vendors that worked on the restoration, and Matthew’s family.
The following morning, Matthew got to show his new Charger off at MN C&C , a car event that Morrie’s sponsors the first Saturday of each month throughout the summer. Matthew’s Charger looked great amongst all the other classic and exotic vehicles at the event and sure got a lot of attention. Stay tuned for a separate blog post highlighting the June C&C event and a special segment featuring Matthew’s appearance.
With over 600 hours of work, more than 40 employees, and a dozen different vendors, Matthew’s wish finally became a reality. All the time and hard work paid off when we all saw the look on Matthew’s face Friday night when he first laid eyes on the car. We were so proud to be able to work with the Make-a-Wish Foundation to help make this wish come true and we truly appreciate the opportunity to give back to our community and a great family like Matthew’s.
Spring has finally arrived, and much like we’ve been eagerly waiting to get outdoors, the Charger is anxiously waiting for its return to streets. That return, however, is going to be a bit delayed.
Up until recently visible progress on the Charger could be seen on a daily basis, but recently our team has been working diligently on the details you cannot see. We’ve reached the stage where the hunt for small and seldom noticed trim pieces slows down the restoration process. Despite a healthy aftermarket for vintage muscle car parts, we’ve run into a couple of “needle in the haystack” situations.
The good news is that we’ve been able to track down all the outstanding parts. The not so good news is that some of these parts aren’t scheduled to arrive until the middle of June. Needless to say we won’t hit our May completion target and it’s looking like late-June is a more reasonable completion target. Fortunately, like the aging of a fine wine, the extra time will give us time to get everything dialed in perfectly for when Matthew takes the wheel this summer.
Check out the update photos below and be sure to check back often for updates.
We’ve had Matthew’s 1968 Dodge Charger for a little over three months now and things are really coming together. Since our last update, the Charger has made it back to Morrie’s Minnetonka Ford for assembly. Upon arrival the first order business was to remove all the suspension components for refinishing. After stripping and a fresh coat of paint the suspension was put back in the car, complemented by new shocks and other goodies. The brakes were also tackled and rebuilt to as new condition, although it is hard to notice them hidden behind the shiny new American Racing Torque thrust wheels. Under the hood the refreshed engine and transmission has been put back in the car and the generous folks at A&T Upholstery have started tackling the interior.
The car has really started to take shape and with spring around the corner the timing couldn’t be better. We still have a lot of work ahead, but with a little luck, and a lot of elbow grease, the car should be ready before June rolls around.
We’ve been hard at work restoring Matthew’s 1968 Dodge Charger and we’re excited to share the latest updates with you. The charger is currently at our body shop in Brooklyn Park where it just received a fresh coat of paint! Per Matthew’s request, we painted the vehicle Mopar Silver, and we think it was a great choice. The vehicle is slowly but surely starting to look as good as it did the day it rolled off the showroom floor. We are very excited to see Matthew’s reaction once the Charger has been fully restored.
The vehicle is currently getting upholstered and once that is finished we will begin the assembly process. Make sure to stay tuned for more coverage! Until then, take a look back on all of our restoration updates to see the progress we’ve made so far.
Yesterday we had the opportunity to meet with Aristea Brady from WCCO Channel 4 news and share the story of Matthew’s Charger restoration. Take a minute to watch the video below and get up to speed on all the latest details.
We’re excited to announce that thanks to the generosity of one of our employees, Matthew’s 1968 Dodge Charger will be sporting original Minnesota license plates from 1968. These plates have just the right amount of patina and will look right at home on the Charger. Many thanks to Jeff Nelson, one of our sales associates at Morrie’s Brooklyn Park Nissan for making the donation.
On the restoration front things are coming along nicely. As is often the case with restorations, things tend to take longer than expected. Although our last update said we were almost ready for paint, our team found a couple of areas that were not up to their high standards. This week they are putting the finishing touches on the car before final primer and paint gets applied. At this stage of the game there is a fair amount of sanding, welding and adjusting going on, which doesn’t exactly make for exciting photos or videos. Rest assured we will be getting plenty of photo and video footage when the final paint gets applied early next week.
Stay tuned for another update early next week.
We are proud to be able to partner with the Make a Wish Foundation of Minnesota to be able to grant Matthew’s wish of having his 1968 Dodge Charger restored. The vehicle has been at our Body Shop in Long Lake, MN for two weeks and just made the trek to our Brooklyn Park Body Shop for final preparation and painting. Per Matthew’s request, we will be painting the vehicle Mopar Silver. We expect the car to be painted by the week of the 18th and ready for assembly. We are very excited to see the restoration through and can’t wait to show Matthew the finished product! Check back often for updates and pictures. To read about the restoration from the beginning, check out our first blog post where you will see footage of us picking up the vehicle and surprising Matthew.
Since our last update there has been a flurry of activity on the 1968 Dodge Charger. To date the restoration has truly been a team effort. Upon arrival at Morrie’s Long Lake Bodyworks facility our team of 22 body technicians each enthusiastically volunteered to work on a particular body panel. In the images below you can actually see where each technician’s name has been written on the car to mark his territory. Each has been tasked with stripping, repairing, straightening and preparing their assigned part(s) for paint.
As they have dug deeper into it, the Charger is proving to be as clean as it originally looked. Rust has been almost wholly nonexistent and the dry California climate has really preserved the car nicely. This has certainly helped keep the schedule on track. In less than a week’s time much progress has been made and a number of panels are nearly ready for final paint. The team is shooting to have all the bodywork done and car delivered to our Brooklyn Park Bodyworks location by February 11th. From there the panels will be reattached and painting commence.
Stay tuned as the transformation process continues. We’re planning on getting some great photo and video footage of the painting and subsequent assembly processes.
Since we first introduced you to Matthew’s 1968 Dodge Charger restoration wish a generous group of techs at our Minnetonka Ford store have conducted a mechanical evaluation of the car. While you never know what you are going to turn up when digging into an old car, our techs lucked out. With little more than a draining of the gas tank and some tinkering with the carburetor they were able to get the car up and running like a champ. An inspection of the transmission yielded new fluid and functional shifting into all gears. With no red flags and operational running gear we’ve decided to give the engine a tune up, replace some gaskets and clean it up nicely. Naturally if we see the engine or transmission needs more attention, we will make the necessary repairs.
Yesterday our techs, John and Paul, made quick work of removing the engine and transmission. The next step is sending the Charger out to our Long Lake Bodyworks facility for bodywork. Upon arrival the body trim, glass, ancillary engine components, interior and lights will be removed to prep for paint. Much like we lucked out on the mechanical end of things, we’ll also benefit from the cars many years spent in dry California. There is no significant rust to speak of and 99% of the body components appear to be there. This will certainly make it easier on the staff at our body shop.
Be sure to check back often for regular updates on the restoration status.
At Morrie’s we actively look for opportunities to give back, but there are few instances where we can combine our love of cars, combined skills, expertise and generous staff to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy. When such an opportunity knocks on our door, we have to jump on it, and that is exactly what we did when Make-A-Wish of Minnesota told us about Matthew, who wished to have his 1968 Dodge Charger restored.
Rewind about a year and a half. Matthew, a 16 year old from northern Minnesota, is fighting cancer. After connecting with Make-A-Wish of Minnesota he wishes for his car to be restored, but his wish cannot be fulfilled until he is 16. As time passes he wonders if his wish will be granted. It was towards the end of this waiting period that we partnered with Make-A-Wish and expressed interest in employing our automotive passion to make a positive impact. As luck would have it, the timing was perfect and we set the ball in motion to restore Matthew’s Charger.
Not knowing what shape the car was in, we hitched up our trailer and made the three-hour trip north on Saturday, January 12. To Matthew, this was just another Saturday. Little did he know that we would be surprising him with the granting of his wish. Just a mile from his house, we connected Make-A-Wish volunteers and made the short drive to his house. Upon pulling into his family’s driveway, it did not take long to take notice of the bright green pickup, trailer and group of us walking towards the house and as if on cue, Matthew was the first out the door. He knew something was up and without hesitation we informed him that we would be granting his wish.
Matthew immediately led us to the Charger and we quickly discovered that it was in much better shape than expected. Spending most of its life in California surely has certainly been good to the car. After a few attempts to load the car, including everyone on hand, we were finally victorious in getting the car on the trailer. We secured it on the trailer, then quickly escaped the cold and celebrated with cupcakes and coffee. Matthew’s family was quite hospitable and in true northern Minnesota fashion, I’m pretty sure they would have invited us for a Sauna if we didn’t have a three-hour drive ahead of us.
Matthew’s Charger now sits at our Minnetonka Ford location where it will undergo a mechanical evaluation before heading to our body shop for bodywork followed by paint and upholstery. We will work closely with Matthew to ensure that the car it built to his specifications. The combined efforts and support form our employees, partners and friends will contribute to the restorations completion. We plan to document the process along the way on our blog so be sure to check back often.
We are truly proud to be able to make Matthew’s wish come true!
UPDATE #1: http://blog.morries.com/2013/01/matthews-1968-charger-restoration-update-1-pulling-the-engine/