And We Have a Winner…
by Lynnette Mitchell
When Charlie B. backed his beautifully restored 1970 Dodge Challenger SE into a space at Cars and Coffee Las Vegas he probably had no idea that he was parking on “Memory Lane”. That is exactly where I, Civitan Car Club member, Lynnette M., began my nostalgic stroll though, and the very reason Charlie was the first recipient of the Civitan Car Club Las Vegas Member’s Choice “Car of the Week” Award, May 3, 2014.
The year was 1980-something, big hair and flare-legged jeans were the fashion, and a guy who owned a muscle car was the man of many a young girl’s dreams! So it makes sense that a place where “car guys” gathered and flexed their muscles attracted teen girls (but didn’t thrill their fathers!). For me and my friends, the place we sneaked off to on warm, muggy summer nights was Lower River Road, where brassy boys with fast cars raced for “pinks”. The road stretched for miles and was lined on both sides by teens cheering their favorites. You didn’t have to be behind the wheel to feel the adrenalin; there was a constant thrill in the air. For me, nothing sent a thrill up my spine and put a knot in my stomach like watching my own cousin race! This was really what drew me to Lower River Road, and if my parents had ever found out I’d been there that is what I would have told them! Those summer evenings ended almost as fast as they had come, and when the Pacific Northwest skies began to let loose their rain, not many people trekked down to the once busy stretch of open road. Black rubber marks on the pavement and an occasional red Solo cup in the ditch were all that would be left until the next year, when the boys of summer would return and the squeal of tires and teen-aged girls would fill the evening air again.
So, what does this have to do with the very first Civitan Car Club Member’s Choice Award? Well, the first time I laid eyes on Charlie’s yellow beauty at Cars and Coffee Las Vegas over a year ago, and every time since, it reminded me of the car my cousin raced in high school and the memories of that summer.
As it turns out, Charlie’s Challenger has a similar history. While visiting with Charlie after the award, he shared with me that years ago his car was also used for racing. Charlie noted that it was in pretty bad shape, purple in color, and had been up on blocks for 18 years when he got his hands on it. He figured it took him about 5 years to transition it to its present glory, and glorious it is! It has all of those features that are unique to the 1970 Dodge Challenger SE (Special Edition), from its fabric headliner with overhead consolette, to the smaller rear window (which Charlie admits doesn’t allow the driver to see anything behind him and is likely the reason it didn’t stick around on future models), this car is legit! Charlie clarified that he doesn’t race his challenger but he sure likes to drive it!
Civitan Car Club Las Vegas congratulates Charlie on his beautiful restoration and thanks him for keeping a bit of the past alive to share with all of us! If you’re visiting Cars and Coffee Las Vegas, be sure to look for Charlie and his yellow, 1970 Dodge Challenger SE.