The car was ordered from the factory with the automatic transmission option ($250), so Blevins put in a 904 three-speed. "It was a rare option," Mike says. "It was ordered with a 904 on the buildsheet, and I wanted to keep the automatic because most all were ordered with stick shifts." Other factory-ordered options included tinted-glass ($34.85) and a remote-controlled driver-side mirror. There are 14x6 Rallye wheels on the front and 15x7s in the back.

With the engine, paint, and seat covers complete, Blevins and King handed it off to Mike, who began restoring the rest of the car, part by part, with some advice from friend Bobby Rogers in Kentucky. "Anything that could be unbolted was cleaned, painted, rechromed, or all of the above," Mike says. "The dashpad, door panels-anything-you name it, I did it. [Car collecting] is getting to be a rich man's hobby. But this car was not done by a renowned restoration shop or an owner with deep pockets, just three guys and a woman who love Mopars and love to drive them. It has exceeded all [my] expectations."

Mike and his wife, Vicki, log about 5,000 miles a year in weekend cruises and trips to car shows. "Vicki is a Mopar woman," Mike says. "It's really her car. After 100 miles in 95-degree heat, she jumps right in and makes it shine. We drive the car everywhere it goes. It has never been on a trailer. It's true that Mopar owners drive their cars more than any other collectors."

They have been active on the local show circuit, but Mike says his most treasured prize is a First Place finish in A-Body Modified at the '01 All-Chrysler Nationals. At the Mopar Nationals, Mike had to show in the Modified class because of the motor, but he says he lost points there due to originality. "It has rubbed shoulders with the upper crust on the show field, but they're in the trailer while we're having our fun," Mike says. "I redid the car my way, and a thumbs-up on the road is better than any trophy . . . except for Carlisle."