In the fall of 1999, Joe met Dennis Kohr of Kohr's Kustoms in Meyerstown, Pennsylvania. After some discussion and an examination of the 'Bird by Dennis, it was decided it would be put on the waiting list at Kohr's Kustoms to await its turn at restoration. In the meantime, the parts gathering and services arranging continued. It officially entered the Kohr's shop at the end of April 2001.
A short trip to Robesonia to talk with engine builder Ray Barton determined that a 440 stretched to 488 inches would be appropriate for the 'Bird. Ray and his shop built a low-rpm, high-torque monster for easy cruising on premium pump gas. Joe provided a '78 block and new stage IV heads, along with a new timing cover, oil pan, and valve covers. Ray came up with everything else. The original AVS Carter feeds this 488 and provides reasonable fuel mileage.
The original 18-spline Hemi four-speed was carefully put aside in favor of a different combination. Close friend and fellow Mopar fanatic, Dennis Garber from New Holland, Pennsylvania, put the internals from an overdrive four-speed from the late '70s into a case from the late '60s-a 23-spline four-speed. Some internals needed to be replaced, so Denny put in an order with Passon Performance for the needed help. The results mean highway cruising is done in the low-to-mid-2,000-rpm area. The big 488 doesn't mind the relatively large rpm drop between gears. The Kohr's tied the two together with a stock bellhousing, enclosing a dual friction Centerforce clutch assembly.
The original 3.54 geared Dana 60 rear axle was in good shape and was given to Joe's friend, Steve Kruger, for a simple freshening. Steve reported that Joe could have changed the gear oil and put it back in the car. However, all bearings and seals were replaced just for good measure. Steve was also instrumental in acquiring many other new parts for the 'Bird thru his family's business, Lancaster County Auto Parts. The combination of the overdrive four-speed and the 3.54 gearing makes for a final drive ratio of the about 2.50 to 1.
The engine was replaced in the mid-'70s as a warranty job. At the time, the dealership did
Atop the internally modified 440 is what one would expect-the venerable Carter four-holer
Trailering home any winged B-Body is going to get you plenty of stares. Even though the 'B