"They're all found…"
That's what the cynics say. At least when talking about all the old Hemi cars, that is. And in talking to most people, you would think that was true. While it is true that the days when we all knew about a car tucked away in our neighborhood are gone for the most part, occasionally, someone finds one worth saving.
A lot of people know that Tim Wellborn, who operates the Wellborn Musclecar Museum in Alexander City, Alabama, with his wife Pam, has a lot of really nice cars. Artisans like Roger Gibson from Missouri and Andrew White of Apex Autosports keep busy renewing, restoring, and reclaiming cars for them. However, Tim has a special spot for survivor cars, and has found that even the unrefined machines are attractive.
To that end, a recently completed display in the museum's ex-dealership service area is designated to show people vintage muscle just as the cars are found. The highlight is a '70 Hemi Road Runner, a car that nobody in the hobby knew about or has seen prior to Tim acquiring it. There are a couple of other cars as well, and the one thing in common is that, despite their rarity, these Mopars will not get washed, restored, or "made right." After all, barn finds are already right when you get them.
Heart of the Sunrise: '70 Hemi Road Runner
In 1972, Marcus Hanna, a young man in the west Texas town of Grovebeck, had a chance to buy a barely-used Roadrunner, painted FJ5 Lime Light Yellow with a white top and interior. This car had all the cool driveline stuff for that year—the Dana rear, four-speed, and 426 Hemi. This owner took the B-Body home, and began racing it locally. He soon discovered that he was not really as good with that Pistol Grip as he'd have liked (and, frankly, at 5,500 rpm on bias plys, who of us is?), and the 833 was replaced by a worked 727. Times changed, and Marcus got busy with his life and career, parking the car in a pole barn on his family property, where it sat for over 30 years.
In fact, he actually became Judge Hanna in the Lonestar State, and the car had been long forgotten. Somehow, word got to Roger Gibson that there was a Hemi car sitting, and the owner may be interested in selling it. He in turn called Tim.
"Roger had heard about this car down in Texas, so I contacted the gentleman who owned it, Mr. Hanna, but I really needed to see some pictures before I'd commit to going to see it. It took several months, and he finally went out and bought a little disposable camera. He sent me that, and as soon as I saw the pictures, we were on our way to Texas!"
The car was tucked away among a bunch of parts and equipment. The four-speed was sitting with it. The original engine was still in the car. Usually drag cars show a lot of abuse and changes; this was an exception. Other than the automatic shifter and transmission, it was all there. Even the original striping on the sides and hood were visible. The man offered to try and get the car running, but Tim declined; there was no reason to chance that original elephant to 30-year-old fuel.
"Well, when we got back home and got into the fuel system, [we found] that would have been a disaster to try and start that car," says Tim grimly. "What was left of the gas in it like Maple syrup. For that reason, some of those things will be repaired, but for the most part, this one will be a time capsule."
This Road Runner was unknown to the hobby prior to 2012. It came out of a pole barn in west Texas, and remains basically as it was found.
Under the hood is the numbers-matching Hemi, tuned up with some chrome parts and a little speed equipment. Tim will get it running again but plans to leave the dirt intact.
The cars that Tim and Pam Wellborn have chosen to be part of their new barn find area can be found in a corner of the Wellborn Musclecar Museum, with various parts scattered around.
Those are original seats and seat covers. The console was never reinstalled when the shifter was swapped out for a ratchet-type Mr. Gasket version. |
Here's something that we're sure that there are not many of.
This aluminum 318 block is on a stand in the middle of the parts display; the museum got it from Herb McCandless.