Non-automotive enthusiasts too often don't have a clue. We hope it stays that way-better for us when we're on the hunt for some cool Mopar iron. Ron King of Mississauga, Ontario, has enjoyed this phenomena firsthand. Once he had the title to this '68 Barracuda convertible safely in pocket, he hinted to the previous owners just what they were letting slip out of their hands. They may not have believed him then, but they sure do now.
In the early '90s, Ron was deep in the hunt for an A-Body drop-top. Through a friend he heard of a likely candidate, and spent three to four months tracking down the owner. The car, it turned out, was resting uncomfortably in the heart of downtown Toronto.
"We went down there," Ron says, "in through the back alleys to the garage and opened up the door. And there it was with junk piled all over it. When I got to the front of the car, I noticed the louvers on the hood had the 383 ID on it. I took a quick peek inside, and much to my surprise, there was a stick shift."
Ron then examined the VIN and learned the convertible was a true factory 383 four-speed. The car was in fairly good condition, so he wasted no time getting together with the owner to negotiate a purchase and gain a little background on the vehicle.
The Barracuda had the makings of a premium driver. Aside from being in good shape and boasting a sporty driveline, the low-mileage beauty came with disc/drum brakes, a manual gearbox, and the light-blue interior boasted a full set of factory gauges, bucket seats, a Rallye wheel, and the original radio.
"[The owner] had no knowledge of cars and their value," Ron says. "To him, it was a car that he purchased from a friend when he got out of high school.
"The car originally came from British Columbia. [The owner] drove the car for one year after arriving in Toronto. Someone stole the carb and intake manifold, and the engine seized, after which the car sat from 1975 until I purchased it in 1994."
After Ron made the purchase and was ready to leave, the former owner's wife piped up, saying she never liked the car and felt it was a piece of junk.
"I, in turn," Ron says, "responded that she would be sorry she said that, and that after I finished the restoration I would return and show them the end result."
For the next three years, Ron, with the help of friends Robert and Mike, worked diligently under his "shade-tree garage," completely stripping the car and putting it all back together in OE form.
"I took the car back to the previous owner one beautiful summer day," Ron says. "We pulled up to the house and all the neighbors came out to check out the car. The previous owner and his wife then came out, and I wish I'd had a camera to catch the look on her face. She would not believe it was the same car. The neighbors who came out to speak to us about the car told the previous owner that he was crazy for giving up this car. We visited for about an hour and explained all the work, time, etc. that went into the restoration, and the previous owner said he was glad that I had bought the car, as he never would have been able to achieve a total restoration.
"As I was saying goodbye, I asked [the lady], 'Remember those words that you said to me?' She replied, 'Yes, and I regret those words, and I want this car back.'
"I told her to take a last look, as the next time she would see it, it would probably be in a magazine."
We guess someone must have a crystal ball.