The whole idea started easily enough. Surfing the Web, we came across guys showing where they were at on their project cars. Amid a sea of healthy big-block E-Body clones and garage-filling B-Bodies was this unbelievable yellow Coronet 500 up on the rotisserie in a fresh sheen of paint. The owner said it was his first such project and was looking forward to finishing it up before the Nationals. With that introduction, the e-mails started flying back and forth.
Bryan Crenshaw, who resides in Kirklin, Indiana, is 34 years old, and his only previous Mopar was a '69 Super Bee that was pretty much finished when he got it. Employed in the asphalt and construction business, he had really wanted a '65 Coronet 500, and finally got one in a unique way.
"Actually, I found the car on Moparts.com," Bryan remembers with a grin. "Of course, like a lot of projects, it wasn't quite what I had planned for. The previous owner had totally disassembled it! I would not recommend that to anyone who is not a professional; I'm not, and it was very hard to figure out how it all went back together."
"Overall, the condition was fantastic," he continues. "Other than one hole on the driver's side, it was completely rust free. I did end up replacing the hood and driver's-side fender as they were both a little too wavy for me to deal with."
After buying the car in 1999, the project began in January 2000. A rotisserie was constructed from mild steel tubing; Bryan designed it himself and then welded it together; Readi-strip took the car down to bare metal and up on the rack it went. This would not be a restoration or race car replica, but a street machine statement from Bryan's fertile mind. Show points would be won for attention to detail, not originality. Kramer Automotive supplied a perfect replica A990 scoop, which is the only major external body change. Nonetheless, some of the factory pieces to make the 500 the statement it needed to be were not so easy to come by.
"Stuff like trim for the '65 500 is tough!" says Bryan. "The car was missing the gold-colored script Dodge emblem on the decklid; I didn't even know what it looked like. Going through swap meet stuff, I found a perfect one for $400; I made the dealer an offer, and he told me to just keep walking. I ended up getting it from him for something like $380 at the end of the day. It wasn't worth leaving and then not finding another good example someplace down the road."
Once on the rack and ready for paint, the process began with epoxy primer DP90 followed by urethane primer K36 and then three coats of retina-scarring PPG Viper Dandelion Yellow. This concluded with three coats of clear. Bryan sprayed it himself using some well-heeded pointers from buddies in the body and paint business. The parts were done separate from the unibody, covering every inch with the fresh pigment. Still on the rotisserie, the assembly began. Bryan's one big benefit over many first-timers was a new shop area he had built that made this process a lot less stressful than trying to get around in a small garage. The ability to spin the car over and sit in a chair rather than laying on one's back to do detail work made things go a lot smoother.
Next, suspension components were prepped, the K-frame was detailed, and KYB shocks were put on all four corners. A set of five-spoke Stockton 15x7 rims were shod in Firestone Firehawk rubber to roll off the miles. To slow it all down, there are Stainless Steel Brake Systems discs behind those rims in all four corners.