The interior (ivory leather) was completed in June 2001. It includes power windows, Valley armrests, and seatbelts restored by Ssnake Oyl. Rodney hand-built the dash, which is molded steel with Dakota Digital gauges. Shawn Cook of Cook's Auto Top and Trim covered the dash and built a custom console and a custom-paneled trunk with a hidden subwoofer cabinet and hidden rear-mounted battery. All the body seams and locks have been filled in or molded, and Rodney shaved the door handles to smooth out the exterior.
"It took months to gather our finances to rebuild the engine the way we wanted to, with the goal in mind to drive the entire Hot Rod Power Tour in May 2003," Rodney adds. "My wife and I celebrated our 25th anniversary in March 2003, and the gift I received from my bride was a set of Mopar Performance aluminum heads. To this we added a complete 3-inch TTI exhaust system with 21/4-inch ceramic-coated headers, 850 Holley carburetion, and Keisler five-speed transmission." The Heads were ported and polished by Gene Quick Motor Sports in Haltom City, Texas. The cam is a .572/.577 stick, and Rodney used 10:1 Arias pistons and a Mopar M1 intake.
"We finished the engine rebuild on May 23, packed the car (the next day) and headed to Waco for the Street Machine Mini Nationals, which also served as a test run," Rodney recalls. "That night during a cruise night, we had the hottest car in the parking lot of the Waco Dodge dealership--due to an alternator fire under the hood. Two alternators and one battery later, we ended up towing the Bird home.
"I solved the problem by installing an inline solenoid to isolate the Mopar Performance mini starter, which was grinding against the block with my 101/2-inch clutch. Two days later, we headed to Nashville for the Hot Rod Power Tour.
"I want thank my friends James Baker, John Miller, Phil Pegg, and Greg Liffick for their support and many hours of cheap labor. Most importantly, I want to thank my wife Sherry and children Candace and Brandon, and daughter-in-law Denise, for their never-ending support. I've always said I'll never sell this car and that they will have to bury me in it when the time comes. My darling wife of 25 years has said that might happen sooner than I think if I keep dragging so-called 'project cars' home."