It seems fairly common to hear of father/son projects, but don't be too quick to rule out a daughter's interest in Mopars. Tom Pike, a toolmaker from Victor, New York, will tell you that restoring his '69 383 four-speed 'Cuda was a great way to spend quality time with his daughter Sara. Sara was just a 12-year-old when Tom began the restoration project. "My older brother, Jerry, bought the car new in Pensacola, Florida," Tom recalled. "The only options on the car were an AM radio, a fold-flat rear seat, and the A57 'Cuda package." Jerry and his wife used the car until 1977, when Tom purchased it. It was in rough condition, with quite a bit of salt damage on the floorboards and rear quarters, as well as a threadbare interior. Mechanically, though, the 'Cuda was fairly sound and still a numbers-matching vehicle.
The Plymouth remained in storage until 1992, when Tom was finally able to get to his long-awaited project. He was especially pleased that Sara displayed an interest in the project. She did a lot of sanding, painting on assemblies, and help with the mechanicals. Says her proud father, "She's great with a torque wrench, and the best part is she takes great pride in what she does." Though this was Tom's first restoration project, he wasn't about to fly by the seat of his pants. He had a clear idea of what would be required for a quality restoration. He extensively researched assembly procedures that the factory originally used when putting these cars together. He also took great pains to make sure the original factory markings and finishes were faithfully reproduced.
Tom formulated an accurate-appearing and durable finish that duplicated the look of the factory-applied Cosmoline found on the 'Cuda's lower control arms. This involved using Weather Proof, an industrial coating used to protect parts stored outdoors. Weather Proof goes on clear, but when multiple coats are applied, it takes on a milky appearance. After applying twenty coats and then hitting it with a 3M scrubby pad, Tom was able to get just the right look. "It was pretty much a trial-and-error effort, but it worked great," he admitted.