The Warino Charger, owned by Joe Warino, was purchased on November 22, 1973 after his mother Linda Warino graduated college. She picked the car up from Straussbaugh Dodge in Youngstown.
In 1978 Joe’s father, also a Joe, drove the Charger to the hospital to pick him up as a newborn. Back in those days, there were no baby seat regulations and a mother could hold a baby on her lap, which is what Linda did. One particular day the family was heading out, again with Warino on his mother’s lap. He was teething at the time and the Charger’s armrest seemed to make a wonderful pacifier. When he was done with it, there was an impression of tiny teeth marks that were to become permanent in more ways than one.
By the time Warino was 10, the Charger had acquired some rust and was basically being used to handle tough jobs like transporting wood or heavy items. In 1988 it spun a main bearing and was parked in the drive. Eventually, Warino’s parents decided to get rid of it.
“That was the first year for the Hot Rod Super Nationals in Columbus,” Warino’s father said. “I took Joe to the show and he found another Charger just like the one sitting at home. He looked at me and said why can’t ours look like that.”
He said his son went through two days of sobbing and begging not to scrap the Charger. Eventually mom and dad did give in and dad hit the library for books on automotive restoration. At the age of 10, Warino began developing skills and he never gave up on the car.
It took 12 years to finish the work on the car, but Warino then had a classic that was noteworthy. One part of the restoration included a hands-off-the-teeth-marks command from Warino’s mother. Obviously, he left it alone.
Warino started showing the car and taking it to local and state-wide events. He moved to Columbus and in November of 2002, a setback occurred after a severe under-the-hood fire. It meant Warino would have to perform a second restoration, but thankfully, the fire didn’t reach the interior and the now famous teeth marks were still in tact.
“I figured it was time for a full-blown restoration," Warino said.
That was accomplished and the car soon became a popular one. The car appeared in “Transcript” magazine in November of 2002, which is a trade publication for ODOT employees. It was covered under the “Hobby Shoppe” column. In July of 2004, it was a featured vehicle in Mopar Muscle magazine, which included a close up of the famous teeth marks and the full story.
Since then, Warino cruises the summer away in the car, traveling from one show to the next. The restoration proved worth it as the car takes trophies and awards all over the state. One trophy Warino earned at this year’s Dublin Car Show was six feet tall.
“I had to dismantle it to get it home,” Warino said.
At that show, Warino had another Joe with him. This Joe is two and is slowly developing a passion for cars. When the time comes, the little guy may find himself as the third owner of the “family” Charger.
“He will be the next owner, if he wants it,” Warino said.
He said the transfer of ownership will come with the agreement to leave the teeth marks, but that is a strong part of the family history. It may also be worth noting, Warino picked up his son from the hospital after he was born in the Charger.
“It’s been more than just a car, it is part of my life,” Warino said.
As fall got underway, Warino made preparations to store the car for winter, but it could see one more trip this month.
“If it is 70 and sunny on Thanksgiving, I may take it out,” Warino said. “We’ve had it out before at Thanksgiving. It all depends on the weather. I only drive it when it is sunny.”
Joe and Joe stand next to the classic 1974 Charger that has seen two restorations during it’s second-generation ownership. The Joe on the right could very well be the third owner of this Mopar classic.