While participating in the '04 Hot Rod Power Tour, we were tasked with combing through the entire participants' field of hopped-up iron for the coolest Mopar in attendance. Mind you, we performed this exercise at every stop on the way, and, to be honest, it was no easy task considering the volume and quality of the Chrysler products.
The first leg began in Arlington, Texas, on a hot, sunny day. The pick of the litter in Texas was easy-this car struck us like a bolt of lightning. Glen Waite and his father Barney drove this immaculate AAR 'Cuda to show the Brand X boys what real Mopar muscle is all about.
Three years ago, Glen fell in love with the car and the body style with just one look, and purchased it from a colleague at work. The previous owner had already undertaken the task of restoring the body and interior of the 'Cuda, making Glen's life a bit easier and saving his wallet from becoming lighter.
Shortly after taking delivery of the Torr Red AAR, Glen commissioned Tim Barr Racing Engines of Garland, Texas, to breathe new life into the tired small-block under the factory issued fiberglass hood. The block was punched .030-over, a Comp solid flat-tappet cam with .511-inch lift and 236/242-degrees duration at .050 was slid in place, and the "X" casting cylinder heads received a full port and polish. The pumped-up small-block exhales through a set of 131/44-inch headers that actually came with the car when purchased new from the dealership. Glen had them ceramic coated to make them last a very long time. Ben at Pro Max Carburetors of Indiana is responsible for refurbishing the three Holleys that reside on top of the OEM Edlebrock intake. The rest is pretty much the way it rolled off the assembly line, save for the Mopar Performance electronic ignition. Why mess with perfection? Since the rare E-body came equipped with a stout 727 Torqueflite, Glen added a TCI Breakaway torque converter and a B&M shift improvement kit to bolster acceleration a bit.
With a mere 65 miles on the rebuilt 340, the hardcore Glen Waite planned on breaking the small-block in on the Power Tour. Though it experienced some teething problems, including a bit of overheating in the Texas heat, an emergency roadside valve lash, and an errant sending unit wire that nearly caused Glen heart failure when his small-block suddenly lost all oil pressure, the AAR 'Cuda did pretty well, completing the 3,000-mile circus. We can't imagine a more appropriate way to break in a fresh engine, save for a trip to the drags, perhaps.
So what did we learn from Glen and Barney's example? If you can't drive it, what's the point of owning it?
'70 Plymouth AAR 'Cuda
340 LA, 4.07-inch bore, Stock steel crankshaft, Stock 10.5:1 pistons, Comp Extreme Energy solid flat-tappet cam, 236/242-degrees duration at .050-inch lift, .511-inch lift, "X" cylinder head castings, ported and polished, Factory Six-barrel induction
727 Auto, B&M shift kit, TCI torque converter
8 3/4 with 3.55 gears
Front, 15x7 steel Ralley with BFG 235/60R15 tires; Rear, 15x7 steel Ralley with BFG 275/60R15 tires