Here at RideTech, we get involved with many exciting project cars. Every once in a while, a truly special automobile passes through our shop for upgrades. Kyle Petty’s high school ride, a 1970 Dodge Charger, is one of those cars. Its new owner is NASCAR and Top Gear USA TV host, Rutledge Wood, and he is letting RideTech’s car-obsessed crew upgrade the suspension. As you can tell from its custom sheetmetal, white-over-green color combination and period wheels, the 1970 Charger is a real time machine.
An amazing story from the glory days of NASCAR lies beneath the skin. Kyle Petty purchased the car in the early ’70s at the tender age of 16. After school, he would scour Petty Enterprises for compatible race car parts. Who knows if any cast-off 200 mph race parts found their way onto this street machine? In order to make room for a set of fat tires, the car also received widened, hand-hammered sheetmetal. Kyle had extraordinary access to the very same fab shop that helped Richard Petty win NASCAR races back in the day. We could only dream of having access to such parts and resources as teenagers.
At some point Kyle Petty sold the car, but later bought it back. It has remained in the family ever since. Rutledge Wood purchased the car directly from Kyle’s son Austin with its original 383/4-speed drivetrain combination intact.
The last time RideTech crossed paths with Rutledge Wood, he was running a Toyota Sienna Minivan in the 2016 One Lap of America – a grueling 3,500-mile street and track event. Though not originally part of the race van’s build plan, RideTech came to the rescue when the One Lap event passed close to their Jasper, Indiana headquarters and the race team found themselves with a broken bracket. The extensive RideTech fabrication shop was opened up and a bigger, better bracket fabricated on the spot, so that Rutledge and the race van could finish the race.
Involvement with the Toyota minivan was fun, but the Petty Charger is really exciting. It’s a pro-touring car from long before the term was coined. The Charger will be upgraded with a complete RideTech suspension system. Specific details will follow after the car is fully evaluated. Additional modifications will include Wilwood four wheel disc brakes, Magnaflow Exhaust and an Odyssey battery. The vintage American Racing 200S wheels will be replaced with a set of Forgelines and Continental tires, with more details being released as they become available. The only thing certain at this stage is that RideTech R&D team is anxious to get started on the suspension. Enjoy the photos and check back soon for a full suspension installation and track test feature article.
The Charger maintains its original green interior color. Yup. It has a four speed. That’s a pistol grip shifter sticking out of its console.
This Charger became a pro-touring car long before the term was coined.
Rutledge Wood has a knack for finding special cars. He’s pretty happy with this purchase.