Interest in classic cars just one commonality shared by pair of 1968 Dodge Charger owners

Charger ownership just the start of the similarities these two share ... Larry Graf of La Crescent, MN and Lyle Bodensteiner of Waukon (left to right) each stand by the 1968 Dodge Charger they own. Graf recently had restoration of his Charger completed by Bodensteiner's son, Brian Bodensteiner of Bodensteiner Body Werks in Waukon, and discovered that he shared a lot more in common than just ownership of a 1968 Dodge Charger with the elder Bodensteiner. Standard photo by Joe Moses.

by Joe Moses

Beyond being classic car enthusiasts, Lyle Bodensteiner of Waukon and Larry Graf of La Crescent, MN have shared similar paths in life, well beyond an interest in Dodge Chargers that has continued throughout their adult lives.

While having work done on his 1968 Dodge Charger by Brian Bodensteiner of Bodensteiner Body Werks in Waukon, Graf became acquainted with Lyle Bodensteiner, Brian's father who also owns a 1968 Dodge Charger. Bodensteiner described his current Charger as a replacement for a car he had owned earlier in life.

Graf relayed his story of purchasing his '68 Dodge Charger in the fall of 1967 when he was 22-years old. The car had a sticker price of $3,500, but he was able to buy it for $3,200 from the dealership in Red Wing, MN where he was employed. Graf said that he later sold the car for start-up money to begin an auto-body repair business.

Graf's Charger went through a few owners before his wife and brother were able to locate and purchase the very same car he had previously owned, which was returned to him as a gift for his 60th birthday in 2005. The car remained in storage for six years until Graf began the restoration of the vehicle in 2011, with the project recently being completed.

Much like the details in both their vehicles, the similarities extend even further between the two Dodge Charger owners, with Graf and Bodensteiner both growing up on farms and having their first full-time jobs at car dealerships. Both also worked in the auto-body repair field and transitioned into careers in the insurance field, running their own insurance agencies with each beginning their insurance careers in 1986. Graf and Bodensteiner each have four children and have also served their respective communities, with Graf as a County Commissioner and Bodensteiner as a City Council member.

Graf explained that the 1968, 1969 and 1970 Dodge Chargers are in great demand nationally and worldwide and described the Charger as being a "muscle car" that is ageless, and that still looks modern with style and class out on the road. Graf indicated that both of the Chargers that he and Bodensteiner own have a 440 cubic inch engine and were rated at 375 horsepower, which he says may have been an overly conservative estimate by Dodge due to soaring insurance rates for sports cars at that time. Graf suggested that 400 horsepower may be more accurate for that particular engine. Graf remembered paying $30 per month for car insurance in the late 1960s, which was a comparatively high insurance rate at that time, while earning $2 per hour at his job at the dealership.

Graf has replaced all the glass while attempting to keep his Charger as close to original as possible, with some upgrades including disc brakes to replace the factory drum brakes, which could get hot at times. He had planned to have the first showing of his restored Charger at the Apple Fest Car Show in La Crescent, MN Saturday, September 16. Graf and Bodensteiner further discussed making plans for additional car shows, with both Chargers likely to be on display together again in the near future.

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