We told her that her Duster would have a new garaged home in Florence, Kentucky. "You're taking it to Florence now? On the expressway?" She was worried about the car making it that far-about 10 miles-and said that she had not had it on the expressway for probably 25 years, and that the only place it took her was to the beauty parlor and the grocery store.
I thanked her for selling me her baby and promised her I was going to make it like new again someday, and that I would bring it back to show her. As I headed home, I couldn't help but smile and think to myself that persistence paid off. I laughed, thinking about the Judge Judy comments and what a neat lady Dorothy was.
On the day Ron picked up his new ride,....
A Man of his Word
In April of 2008, it was time to start the restoration. I took the car to my good friend Rodney "The Wrench" Lawrence, who also happened to be one of my Lieutenants on the police department. The engine and transmission were pulled to be freshened up. After removing the drivetrain, we loaded the car up and took it to my buddy Gil Russell in London, Kentucky, to begin the paint and bodywork. I decided to keep the black vinyl top and the original InViolet Purple color. We purchased the correct tail panel that had been previously changed after a minor accident, and decided to make a few additions. I had Gil add a Go-Wing and dual hoodscoops during the restoration. I kept going back and forth about which stripe I wanted to put on it. My original thought was to run a black '70 stripe, but I preferred the look of the '71 stripe more. After several discussions with family and friends, I was convinced to go with the '71 stripe in white to make the purple "pop."
Over the next several months, Gil did an amazing job on the restoration. He took the job further than I had ever imagined. The first time I returned to London to see the progress I was both amazed and shocked. There sat my Duster on jackstands with no fenders, hood, decklid, doors, etc. Plus, the car was in bare metal, looking something like a wrecked De Lorean. I remember my nephew being with me as he leaned over and whispered: "Why did you do that to that car? It will never go back together again."
.....Dorothy took the time to get one last picture with the car.
The car was finished in a beautiful PPG basecoat/clear-coat. A set of Plymouth Division dog dish caps and all the body trim was sent to Dave Groh in Delhi, Ohio, to be polished. After the car was reassembled, Bobby and B.J. Reese of Cincinnati, Ohio, replaced the vinyl top and interior. The original dashpad and headliner were still in perfect condition so they were left intact.
Rodney, "the wrench," tucked the motor and transmission back into the freshly-restored body and then off to Ryan Mufflers in Florence, Kentucky, for a set of Flowmaster 40 series dual exhausts. The next couple months were spent detailing all the little things in preparation for the unveiling at the ISCA Cavalcade of Customs Car Show in Cincinnati, Ohio. The restored Duster took an ISCA award for Best in Class, and received non-stop compliments the entire weekend.