The Operation: To restore a 73 Dodge Charger, creating my very own Burn Notice ride.
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Just joining us? Read our first post, “It All Started with a Pair of Sunglasses.”
Do you remember the frustration Michael felt in the early seasons when he thought he was about to crack the case on who got him burned? And then a turn of events would set him back to square one. That’s exactly how I feel right now.
I almost had a project car. Not just any project car, but the project car. It has been a while since I last posted, but not because I wasn’t still working on the project. I was in the midst of a covert operation and couldn’t publicize what was going on until now.
A few months ago, I located the owner of one of the actual stunt cars from Burn Notice. Not only that, but the person who bought it had no interest in fixing the car. His son talked him into it, and he really didn’t know what he was buying. I’m not even sure if he’s ever seen an episode of burn notice. Not only was the car purchased by a person who was ready to unload it, but the car had been delivered to my state of North Carolina – just two hours away.
Immediately, A.K.A. Sam and I went to look at the car. It was the real deal! An actual car from Burn Notice! That change everything. No longer was I simply going to build my own Burnt Spy Car; I was going to restore an actual car from the show. I had to have it. The pieces of the puzzle seemed like they were falling into place. I just knew it was meant to be.
I negotiated with the owner and we agreed on a price. I even arranged to have the vehicle transported to my home. There was just one glitch. When we got ready to make the deal, the owner looked through his paperwork and realized that he never received a title for the car. For months, the owner waited for responses from both the DMV of North Carolina and the DMV of Florida. He determined that the problem was that the show had turned the title in to the DMV in Florida, so it was a titleless car. Basically, the car was without an identity. The car had been burned.
After getting the runaround, the owner determined that the only way to get a title for the car would be for the previously registered owner to reinstate the title. On our last phone conversation, he informed me that he was checking into that, and that he would get back with me as soon as it was straightened out. So I waited.
And waited some more.
Finally, eager for an update, I sent the owner a text message. ”Any progress in getting a title?” And that’s when I discovered the worst possible scenario. He determined that it was impossible to get a title. And since he knew that I would not buy the car without a title, he sold it for the same price to someone who didn’t care. The car is gone.
I’m still fuzzy on the details, and don’t know where the car is now. At first, the owner explained that someone bought the car who just wanted to sit it on their farm, so the lack of title didn’t matter to them. He either didn’t have any further information on the person who purchased it, or he was unwilling to share it. When I pressed him further, he explained that he never met the guy. The person wired the money and sent a transport. The owner also expressed his suspicion that he was dealing with a front man. He thinks the producers of the show bought the car back – maybe because of the rumored spin off. I have no way of knowing one way or the other.
Regardless, the facts are the same. The car is gone, and nothing is going to change that.
Maybe it’s just as well. Do I have regrets? Do I wish that I had of bought it myself without a title? Perhaps. But I think it would have been a mess trying to ever put that car back on the road – at least in my state. Was the car in great shape? Not exactly. In fact, it looked worse than many project cars that I have been considering online. The paint job was only looked good from about 20 feet away. The previous restoration only served to mask real problems and was not an asset.
The hood was a mess. It had a fiberglass one-piece hood that was literally glued to the original steel hood frame. I wouldn’t have trusted it past 50 mph in its current condition. It was destined to fly off one day. While hood pins would have fixed safety concerns, that would have ruined the sleek look of the car and kept it from being a true Michael Weston look-alike. The interior was stripped, and the engine was just barely putting along.
No, I’m better off now that the car is gone. But I’m still sick to my stomach after having been so close to the real thing. I sat in the seat. I heard the engine roar. I even took it for a test drive down the road and back.
You can say we have just experienced our first season finale in this project. A door has been closed, an opportunity missed. I was so close…so close I could taste it. And yet, now I feel like I’m further away from this project car materializing than I was when I started this pursuit last November.
If anyone has any information about what is happening to this stunt car now, please send me a message. If you know of other stunt cars out there that may now be up for sale, let me know. Or if you know of an appropriate project car, I am still in pursuit.
Thank you for following my blog.
I’ve been gathering intel on Michael Westen’s Charger.
Searching the internet is frustrating. People can’t even agree on what year the Charger is, much less which body style. I have found crazy answers in forums. Some people claim it’s a 69 Charger (Dead Wrong – It’s not the Dukes of Hazard body style). It is definitely a third generation body style charger (1971 – 1974).
Based on the auction sites who managed the sale of set props for the show back in August of 2013, the car is identified as a 1973. There is very little difference between a ’73 and a ’74. One of the easy identifiers are the rubber bumpers (which have been removed from Michael’s) and the vents in the hood (and of course, Michael’s hood has a custom scoop and may no longer reflect the original hood). It is almost like the show has intentionally removed the easy identifiers that distinguishes a ’73 from a ’74. I wonder if that was on purpose, so they could use both years to supply stunt cars.
Speaking of stunt cars…
At the auction in Florida, one of Michael’s stunt cars sold for only $4,000 (See news). I wish I had of gotten a chance to bid on that one. I had no idea cars would go that cheap, and the auction took place right before I committed to this project. If the current owner of this stunt car is now having buyer’s remorse and doesn’t want to spend what it will take to complete the car, PLEASE CONTACT ME. Maybe we can work out a deal, and you can watch the car evolve on this site into the official Burnt Spy Car!
What I do know…
The car is not a Rallye. Dodge had a high performance Rallye edition in that year. There were no R/T cars. I have seen forums claiming that it was an R/T. That’s not accurate for that year. I have seen others claiming it was a Rallye hardtop. However, as much as I would like that to be true, Michael’s car appears to be a base model. It does not have the steering wheel of a Rallye. Also, the hood was not flat on the Rallye. Dodge put a “buldge hood” in the sport model to accommodate the larger big block options. Michael’s car has the shifter on the column, another indicator of a base model. Although, his car does have bucket seats. It appears that the Burn Notice Car may be a mixture of parts from several models, and is not a true matching numbers car. The car also has the optional Magnum 500 rims, which look great on a car of this vintage.
What about the engine…
Personally, I would like my Charger to have the 440 option that was still available in ’73. However, if Michael’s car is a base model, it probably only has a 318. Did they upgrade to a 440 despite the factory original to give Michael’s car the high performance deserving of a burnt spy? I don’t know yet. I’d like to find out. Regardless, would you fault me for opting for the bigger motor for my build? What good is a muscle car if it doesn’t have muscle? And what is the point of Michael’s custom hood scoop if there isn’t a hungry motor sucking air on the under side?
Reaching out for more intel…
I have been scouring the internet for more information, and even reaching out to some people who would know. I called the booking agency for Matt Nix, the producer of Burn Notice. Naturally, I didn’t get anywhere. I’ve been reaching out to cast members like Jeffrey Donovan on Twitter, but haven’t heard a reply yet. Finally, I looked up some of the stunt doubles. Surely, they are familiar with the car. I have tried communicating with Dean Grimes (Michael’s stunt driver) through Facebook and Artie Malesci (Sam’s stunt driver) by email. I am still awaiting replies from them. Who knows…maybe one of these contacts will actually come through and provide me with information and resources on the car.
I need you…
Are you a Mopar enthusiast? Maybe you know more about third generation Chargers than I do. If I have missed anything, please let me know. Do you have any clues about Michael’s model? I’m not even 100% sure if his car is a true hardtop. Anyone ever seen the back windows down? If you have factual information (factual – I don’t need more opinions. The forums are already full of those), please share. If you know where a potential project car sits, or have one for sale, please pass that information along too.
I’ve got the shades…
I’ve got the blog…
The next step is securing a ride.
So far my journey has led me to scour page after page of Craigslist ads and Ebay listing in search of the right Charger. I have talked to people with Chargers in five different states. The coupes are more plentiful, but I’m holding out for a hardtop model just like Michael’s. It has been frustrating finding almost the right car, and then having to pass because it wasn’t quite the right model.
Mostly, I’m finding two extremes. Top dollar cars that are already restored, and rust buckets that aren’t with my time. If any of my fans out there have any good leads, help us gather Intel by sending us an email. (more…)
The first step to any good operation is securing the headquarters. For the last few months, Michael and Sam have been working on warehouse spac
The Loft is our top secret headquarters – location is undisclosed. The Loft is hidden away in the business district of an unsuspecting town (hidden in plain sight).e. Borrowed from an anonymous asset, the Loft is under way.
The Loft is not yet operational. Before bringing the charger in for reconstruction, we had to reinforce the roof and eliminate pesky leaks. We are almost ready to pour a slab of concrete, which will become the foundation for the entire operation. Soon after, a charger-sized door will be cut in for covert maneuvers. (more…)
It all started with a pair of sunglasses…
My wife (A.K.A Fiona) and I have been obsessively watching the entire Burn Notice series on Netflix. I love Burn Notice. I’m the kind of person who enjoys problem solving. I evaluate the resources at my disposal and figure out a way to use those resources to get the job done. I employ these skills both on the job and in my hobbies. So I found myself intrigued by the character of Michael Westen. I like the way he thinks.
The other day I was at a friends house when I spotted a pair of sunglasses on the counter. While my friend (A.K.A. Sam) was in the other room, I put them on as a joke to see how long it would take for him to notice that I had swiped them. When he saw me sporting the frames, he just laughed at me and said, “Take them. Josh [from Va. Beach] left them when he was over here the other day.” So I slipped them in my pocket.
When I got home, I went in the closet when my wife wasn’t looking and got a grey sports coat from the closet. I slipped on my new shades and casually strolled into the room. My wife took one look at me from across the room and said, “Michael!” The ran up to me and gave me a Michael/Fiona embrace.
After that, my six year old daughter took my picture using my smartphone. As a joke, I put the picture of myself in my best “Michael Westen” pose on Facebook with the photo caption “Sporting the Michael Westen.” As if my ego needed encouraging, I received 33 likes in a short while. Not enough attention to call the pic viral or anything, but it was enough.
After that, I made up my mind. I will find a 73 Dodge Charger and restore it into a Burn Notice clone car. Black paint job, hood scoop, white interior…the whole nine yards.
And here we are…
This website is the product of that vision. While building this site, I have also been searching Craigslist for the right opportunity at a project car. I have a couple that I plan to look at closer in person and hope to acquire a Charger in the very near future.
Meanwhile, you can help me make this dream come true by following my blog The Operation, participating in the Information Forum, and by Becoming an Asset. We hope that our assets will become part of the team by donating through PayPal towards this build. I need seed money for the car, paint, parts, and site maintenance. Please consider becoming a donor. Every dollar counts. (more…)