October 2007 Mopar of the Month
|Jim writes: A friend of mine said, Most people who see this car in pictures will never be able to appreciate it for what it really is. You just cant get the feeling of how rare it is to find any car this vintage, especially a Mopar, that looks this good and has never had rust or even a dent in it, was only used a few years early in its life, and has been stored in this desert climate forever.
The Dodge is a minimum option car; it never had power steering, or power brakes, or air conditioning, nothing.
It came with a heater, but that was removed early on as a weight consideration. And the bench seat weighs less than buckets, too.
We started with a Mopar with 17,500 original miles.
The interior was done by Leo De La Cruz, (now retired). We waited seven months to get the correct material from all over the country to do the interior.
The power train includes 4 speed and a 426 motor pulling power to a 3:91 SureGrip rear.
Tom Smyth of Performance Engineering in Las Vegas did all the machine work on the engine. A special oil pan made to hold an extra quart of oil, baffled and widened to fit within the frame rails, rather than dropped down as most custom production pans.
The car has NEVER had ANY rust on it, and has NEVER even had a dent in it! It was purchased at Dick Stewart Dodge in Henderson Nevada. When we restored this car, I owned the first plastic media blasting facility in the state of Nevada. We figured this car would be a perfect ad for the new process of stripping paint without damaging the car in any way. I have a VIDEO of the complete restoration, starting when the body shell was rolled out of the blasting booth IN COMPLETELY BARE METAL. Apart. Fenders off. Inside and out. Straight. Nice! This was MY car, in MY shop. Not some customers car over at Earl Shiebs getting all its problems filled with mud and covered up with cheap enamel so somebody can sell it at auction like goes on so much today.
The paint was done by my friend Jimmie Hudson, after hours and on weekends. Slowly. Correctly. He even polished up every piece of stainless trim.
Because I wanted to see this car around for a long time, while it was completely apart, all of the lower areas inside the body shell, the complete inside of the front fenders, K member etc., were shot with black POR 15 so nothing could ever make those areas rust no matter what climate it ended up in. Even the bumpers, after replating, had the inside surfaces coated with silver POR 15 so nothing could make the inside peel as the insides of replated bumpers so commonly do.
The body shell was completely DAed and sealed with K200 after metal prep, then blocked. The paint is not some cheap base coat clear coat junk like they do currently, but it is DuPont Lucite lacquer with Lucite clear lacquer on top, then wet sanded and buffed.
The history: The tale of the Dodge, as we know it (short version): This Mopar was built in the Los Angeles, California plant and purchased in Henderson Nevada. It was originally a 383 with the same huge A-833 cast iron 4 speed it still has. The first owner had it about a year and traded it for a Corvette. It had one of his original registrations in it when we got the car, so I looked him up and he came out to check it over before we pulled it apart for plastic media blasting. Yup, thats it, that was my first hot rod was his comment. (I heard recently through the grapevine, he got into some trouble with the law several times driving this car, which is why he got rid of it. In a small town like Henderson was then, its just too easy to spot!) The second owner spun a bearing in the 383, (no wonder, he put a 4:56 spool rear end in it) had the crank reground, then later broke the crank; (probably a lousy regrind with no fillet radius). End of original 383. He got a Stage motor for it next that needed some freshening, but sold the car, apart, to a father and son team, owners #3. The car was about 3 years old at the time. The Dodge was taken into Vegas, the new owners turned the motor over to some local expert for repairs, who ended up leaving town, along with their motor. The Mopar gets parked on their back yard and never moves again for about 23 years. Everything there but the motor itself. It still had a half tank of good old leaded gas in it!
My friend Aaron turns up an ad for the car, we go over and buy it from the father. (Actually, we have traded this car back and forth between us a couple of times, but that is another story.) So, we sit on the car a while till I find an early production 1965 (1964 date code on the motor, = early) Dodge Monaco from Colorado, a bit rusty, but an original, never out of the car, 426 four speed, (one of 8 built as it turns out now) in running condition. We run it around a bit, pull the engine and trans, and crush the car. (I know now, one of eight, I dont want to hear about it, OK?). Now I have the basis for my 426 wedge 4 speed 64 Rompin, stompin Dodge car. The motor ( has the HP = high performance code on the block) gets the best of everything available at the time, Mopar racing Hemi purple cam and lifters, (Ruppity-ruppitpush rodssky pushrods and rockers, as I recall. Roller timing chain package as I remember, big pump, bored, squared, balanced, rods done, the whole shot. I had to have the pistons made special by Jahns in California. Nobody made 426 wedge pistons, actually a 426 wedge is rarer than a Hemi, only a couple years of production. Made it a special oil pan to hold another quart, wide sides, not deeper, nothing hangs out the bottom of the car. It has a Holley 4 barrel on a torquer manifold. Simple and trustworthy.
At the time I did this car I had access to a crossram setup, but I did not think it was worth the hassle, I wanted something you could street drive. (Like I ever got the chance.) I used to have the balance sheet and all the tags off the boxes of every part, and a bunch of before photos, even one of the Dick Stewart Dodge Stickers on the trunk, but I cant find them now.
The motor was run in and re-torqued and adjusted in my run-in stand before it ever went in the car. All the brakes and hoses, master cylinder ect. were put on new, DOT 5 fluid, new shocks, as well as anything else it required.
The Dodge itself did not need that much with 16,000 miles on the clock. We used the Rams horn style exhaust manifolds, along with a complete 2 3/4 inch exhaust system all the way back, with a center crossover to improve low end torque, and it splits at 2 flanges at about tail shaft level, like we used to do, in case you want to have a quickly opened exhaust. 4 bolts do the job.
I bought 8 3/4 3:91 SureGrip center to use out back; it is kind of a Saturday night special ratio, although it is fun, it is unnecessary with this much power, a 3:23 would do fine on the street.
The car is raised up a bit for 60s styling and has a recent set of bias ply tires on mags for good nostalgia looks. (I even have a set of 1964 spinner hubcaps that can go back on it.) For me, this is the way these cars looked when I was young, nobody pulled into Skips or Bob-Bons or Romas beef joint on Harlem Avenue on Saturday night with a car sitting at stock height! A tube axle maybe, but never stock height!
Other than being a museum piece type restoration, there were very few things changed or modified from the way they were brand new, I added bigger horns for safety sake and a radiator puke tank, which you have to have to get on any NHRA strip even for Friday night. However everything is in factory screw holes, no new holes were used to mount anything. It could be changed right back. Also, a few things were left as original on purpose, the gauge cluster has never been removed for restoration since new, and the carpet, not worn though faded, was left in the car, molded 4 speed hump and all. Kind of verifies the low original miles.
Note: Jim has since sold this car. Thanks to him for letting us show off this fine Dodge!