Since I began writing about classic cars around 26-years ago, I’ve driven a huge range of classic and soon-to-be-classic cars – everything from a vintage Cadillac to an Aston Martin DBS; a Morris Minor to a Ford Galaxie and even a few single-seaters and historic sports racing cars.

However, when I look back at all those cars, one in particular stands out from the crowd – the E49 Charger. Not just any E49, but the Mercury Silver example owned by Gary Bridger and featured on these pages.

Looking back through my files, I first came across Gary in early 1996 when I read a feature he’d penned on his hero, legendary Charger racer, Leo Leonard. Later that same year, Gary would also write about the R/T E49, proving that when it came to Chrysler Valiant Chargers, he was something of an expert.

Having read and, hopefully, absorbed his words of wisdom, the first time I met Gary came during the latter half of 1999 at a photo-shoot at Ardmore aerodrome that involved his E49 Charger – as featured here – along with Paul Morgan’s Valiant VG Pacer. At that time, I was able to take the E49 for a quick drive. Then a few years later, I once again caught up with Gary and his Charger – this time in the company of nine other Chargers and their owners at Pukekohe Park Raceway towards the end of 2001. The reason for that gathering being the Charger’s 30th Anniversary.

Gary, in uniform, and his hero – Leo Leonard

As a magazine editor for the Chrysler R/T Six Pack Owners’ Club at that time, Gary not only organised that memorable photo-shoot, but he would also write the subsequent feature to go with the images.

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