Survivor: Frank Badalson's '71 Hemi 'Cuda
"Hey, I may have a story for you."
It was a crisp, autumn morning in Virginia, and the statement above isn't all that uncommon. Unfortunately, it seems there are always too many stories and too few pages to support them all, so we've learned (through hard experience) to try and sort out what will work in Mopar Muscle before committing to anything. However, in this case, the person was Jeff Johnson of Classic Events, and we were all ears.
Best of Show: Joe Stentella's '70 Hemi Road Runner
If you don't know it, Johnson runs a series of all-Mopar car show/drag race shows called The Chrysler Classics. In other words, he's seen it all, and we'd already told him that the amount of material now crammed into the Lakeland files meant a moratorium on creating additional features until spring 2002. So, since he knew this, whatever he had to say would probably warrant some additional thought if nothing else.
"How about a drag test between a pair of Hemi cars? They're both factory four-speeds; one's a survivor and the other one is our Grand Champion show winner for the 2001 season. We think they'll agree to go two out of three out here today if you want them to."
A survivor versus a trailer-queen Hemi car drag race? Yeah, bud, we could probably make some room for that one.
Frank Badalson's name will probably be familiar to those of you who are into the restoration side of the market, since he partners with Roger Gibson in the parts business and is well known as an documentor of Chrysler musclecars. Badalson, who lives in nearby Richmond, came to the Chrysler Classic finale at Virginia Motorsports Park with a car he's had the pleasure of owning not once, but twice: an A4 Winchester Grey four-speed '71 Hemi 'Cuda.
Frank originally bought the 17,000-mile supercar for $1,900 from its original owner back during his college years in 1975. It's now believed that this is one of only two '71 Hemi 'Cuda hardtops painted this color. Bought new from Fairfax Chrysler/Plymouth with "delete all stripes and chrome" written on the original order form, Frank racked up some miles on the car before he graduated in 1976, and trying to be practical, he sold the car late that year with 48,000 miles on the odometer.
Nonetheless, Frank stayed in touch with the new owner in California, and this was the only car he ever decided he wanted back. A long 18 years later, in 1994, it returned to the Tidewater region of the Old Dominion State in his name with 54,000 miles showing. Regardless, the car is still as original as they come. It shows some signs of minor touch-up on the paint, and the original Hemi has been rebuilt in the interest of making sure the internals don't become externals. What remains is the farthest thing from a ringer you could find; even the clutch is original. Out back is a Dana 60 sporting a 3.54 gearset, and Frank rows through the gears using the Pistol Grip shifter. Goodyear F60-15 rubber rides on 15x7 wheels, and the car retains those four great he-man drum brakes behind them. His best time to date with the rare E-Body was a 14.01, clocked at Richmond Dragway back in 1976!
Now, coming in from the other corner for this little slugfest was car restoration specialist Dennis Kohr. Kohr, who runs a Mopar restoration shop with his brother Allen based out of Myerstown, Pennsylvania, does outstanding work, to the point that in some cases, he was losing points due to overperfection on the car he took to all five 2001 Chrysler Classics. The vehicle is a spectacular black-on-white '70 Road Runner that Kohr spent a year's time bringing back to life, and one look made it easy to see why it had drawn the accolades it received.