There’s one way to describe these two Mopars. Call them What ifs. As in, “What if Plymouth offered a Road Runner wagon back in 1969?” and “What if a ’71 Demon was combined with 21st Century tech inside and out?”

Cuzie Customs in Clinton Township, Michigan, is the shop that produced both of these rides, and it was a father-and-son team that built both cars. The wagon is their rolling billboard, per Plymouth-driving patriarch Frank Cusumano. “That’s why we did it,” he says. “It took us six months to do. It’s my parts hauler that I drive every day.”

A close look at the wagon’s exterior shows a couple of now-classic, muscle-era Plymouth styling cues. As Frank points out, “If you look real close, you’ll see that it’s a 1969 body with a ’70 stripe on the hood and the ’71 ’Cuda rear-quarter billboards.”

But under the ’68-’69 Road Runner/GTX hood is not the Hemi you’d expect once you saw those four letters on the scoops. It’s a modern 5.7, whose compact dimensions -- smaller than an LA smallblock -- make it an easy fit into a B-Body engine bay.

Also going in behind the Hemi is a TCI-built 727 TorqueFlite with a 3,000-stall converter and a 3.55-geared, Sure Grip–equipped 8¾ rear end.

It took less than six months for Cuzie Customs to turn out the wagon, which hasn’t stopped turning heads and grabbing eyes since its completion.


It took them a bit longer to turn a ’71 Dodge Demon into the restified ride seen here. “We put quarters on it, and we mini-tubbed it,” says Frank’s son and shop co-owner Eric Cusumano of the metal work done on the A-Body’s unibody, which wasn’t a dry desert car by any stretch of the imagination. “It’s an original Michigan car so it needed a lot of work.”

That’s the kind of work the shop specializes in. “We have the jigs to replace all the sheetmetal on the car,” says Frank. “We have the same fixtures that Chrysler had when they assembled the car down the line. We re-engineered them all -- we have one for A-Bodies, one for B-Bodies, and one for E-Bodies. We can cut the old metal completely out and replace everything from the framerails back.”

And they can add subtle custom touches, too. “In the back, where you have the Demon logo with the little guy and the pitchfork, it says Hemi instead of Demon,” says Eric. “It also has Hemi on the side stripes in the back. Just little stuff like that, that looks factory.”

Looks factory is also how to describe the 5.7 Hemi -- and six-speed manual from a Challenger SRT8 -- installation into the Demon’s engine bay, along with Reilly Motorsports’ state-of-the-art chassis hardware front and back. “Suspension-wise, it has Reilly’s Street Lynx rear suspension,” says Eric, “and their AlterKtion front end, with Billet Specialties rims.”

How do these much-modified Mopars move? Frank says the wagon is what you’d expect from a car that looks like its VIN has RS45R9A in it. “It’s a four-door Road Runner. It’s a cool car!” As for the Demon, Frank mentions a modern-day Mopar whose handling this A-Body matches. “This one handles like a Viper -- it handles really great,” he says. “The Demon drives like it’s on a rail,” he says. “In some cars, when you ‘modernize’ them, they still ride like an old car.”

Do the Cusumanos have any advice for anyone who’s thinking about adding a modern powertrain and chassis to a classic Mopar? “That’s the way to go,” says Frank. “The restomod is where everything is headed -- that’s my opinion.”

Restomodding just may be the way to take that what if Mopar from dream to reality...and Cuzie’s Customs is a shop well-equipped to make it happen for you!


Fast Facts

1971 Dodge Demon
Eric Cusumano - Fraser, Michigan

Mopar Power

Engine: No LA small-block or Leaning Tower of Power here, but a bone-stock 5.7 Hemi resides in the smoothed-out engine bay, breathing out through a set of tti headers into a three-inch-diameter exhaust system.
Transmission: If it’s good enough for a Viper, than this Tremec six-speed is good enough for Eric’s Demon, especially with a Pistol Grip shifter.
Rear: Narrowed 8¾ Mopar rear end with Strange axle shafts and a 4.10-geared Sure Grip differential.

Sure Grip

Suspension: (Front) Reilly Motorsports AlterKtion, with coilover shocks replacing the well-used stock torsion bars and shocks (Rear) More RMS hardware—their Street-Lynx four-link suspension with coilovers.
Brakes: Wilwood discs all around—six-piston calipers and 13-inch rotors in front, and four-piston calipers and 11-inch rotors in back
Wheels/Tires: Billet Specialties Splines wheels (18 inches in front, 19 inches in back) wear BFG’s G-Force KDWs (225/45R18 front, 295/35R19 back)

High Impact

Paint/Body: Eric and Frank restored the original ’71 Demon unibody with new quarters, floors, and rocker panels, shaved off the marker lights, and fitted the bumpers to the body before the two-stage Sikkens Green With Envy paint with black stripes color scheme (designed by Murray Pfaff) went on in their shop’s paint booth.
Interior: No bare-bones here—All American Customs added modern leather Procar buckets flanking an LX center console, carpets by Auto Custom Carpets, a Momo steering wheel, and a Pioneer/JL Audio-based sound system.


Fast Facts

1969 Plymouth Satellite wagon
Frank Cusumano - Fraser, Michigan

Mopar Power

Engine: If a 318 was good enough for a B-Body wagon in the Stoplight Grand Prix and Shopping Center Slaloms of the ’60s, imagine what one with a 5.7 Hemi would do. Bone-stock (like the one in Eric’s Demon), it breathes out through Diamond Fabrication 2½-inch headers, Dynomax mufflers, and a 2½-inch stainless steel exhaust system.
Transmission: Column-shifted 727 TorqueFlite by TCI, with one of their 3,000-stall converters.
Rear: Mopar 8¾ with Strange axle shafts and a 3.55-geared Sure Grip.

Sure Grip

Suspension: Restored original ’69 B-Body wagon (Front) Heavy-duty torsion bars, tubular shocks, and anti-sway bar (Rear) Steel leaf spring bundles with tubular shocks
Brakes: Stock front disc/rear drum system, restored.
Wheels/Tires: Like on the Demon, Billet Specialties wheels (18-inch front and 20-inch rear Daggers) wear BFGoodrich’s G-Force KDW tires.

High Impact

Paint/Body: Original ’69 B-Body wagon unibody was derusted, then shaved of its door handles and side marker lights, its bumpers fitted to the body, and a Road Runner/GTX scooped hood and ’69 Road Runner grille went on before the Sikkens Viper Red two-stage paint was shot on by Frank and Eric, who then added the black hood treatment and rear-quarter billboards in a color scheme designed by Murray Pfaff.
Interior: Restored stock bench seats front and rear, done up in custom black vinyl by an old friend of Cuzie’s Customs. Carpets are by Auto Custom Carpets, the steering wheel is a Mopar Tuff, and a Pioneer/JL Audio sound system turns the wagon’s cabin into a concert hall.