When it comes to how each of us eventually turn out in regards to life, our parents have a direct influence. For Gayle and Gregg Orr, they grew up with Mopar fanatics for parents. This allowed the brother-sister duo to live the "Mopar Or No Car" lifestyle with a driveway filled with Mopars on their farm in Hamlet, Indiana. Both Gregg and Gayle have taken home Young Gun titles at the Mopar Nationals, and we're sure their younger brother, Jimmie, isn't too far off with his own.
Gregg Sr. and his wife, Becky, went to high school together in Indiana. "My mom was working for my grandfather changing oil at their family-owned gas station and doing airbrush work on the side," says Gayle, "Dad was a hard-working-farmer-could-weld-anything type of guy and they got married." The two joke that they spent many dates in junkyards looking for parts. The match made in heaven never grew old, and pair continued to build cars together, even after kids arrived. Gayle and Gregg Jr. were quick to catch on and both fell into the hobby when their parents brought home a '70 AAR 'Cuda. "I remember helping them take the car apart and pulling off the fake fur that someone put on the doors in the '70s," recalls Gayle. She was in the seventh grade, but knew she loved cars.
As the restoration progressed, it was time to bring the car in for bodywork. Gregg Jr. accompanied them to the bodyshop as the Orr family took a look around before releasing their AAR to them. "The owner said he also had a few Mopars and showed us around. A red Barracuda sitting in the corner under some crates and bicycles caught my eye," Gregg Jr. says. Upon further investigation, 15-year-old Gregg discovered that it was a '68 340 four-speed Formula S fastback. "I knew I wanted that car, and asked him if he was selling it. He said he wasn't interested at the time, but would let us know as soon as he was ready. I didn't know if he took me seriously because of my age." Young Gregg immediately had visions of the possibilities of a 340 four-speed Barracuda being his first car.
Gregg had now tunnel vision for the Formula S. But, when the Orr family took their yearly trip out to the 2000 Mopar Nationals in Columbus, Ohio, young Gregg was looking at other Barracudas for ideas. "I found a Dart that was in my budget, but my parents talked me out of it. They stressed that the Formula S was what I should focus on, and try and get that." Once they returned home, he hit the phones hard, trying to get the guy to budge on the numbers-matching A-Body. They finally came to an agreement on the price and he fueled it up, added brake fluid, aired up the tires and drove it home. He finally had a car he could bring with his family to the Mopar Nationals.
Gregg began to slowly restore his Barracuda, fixing preexisting problems such as a damaged grille and hundreds of dings from hail damage. Around this time, his mother found out about a new class at the NATS-the Young Guns Class, which was focused on young enthusiasts under the age of 25. "I was excited about this and now I had a goal and a deadline: win the Mopar NATS 2001 Young Guns class!"
He worked hard everyday after school in their barn behind their house to get the car on the right track. Every piece and part was removed, tagged and bagged, with the help of his family. They removed the drivetrain, and then stripped the car for paint and bodywork. Mark Shell of Mark's Body Shop in Knox, Indiana, had a great reputation and was chosen to fix the Formula S. While it was away for paint, Gregg focused on the engine, which, at the time, had over 85,000 miles on it. He tracked down the original owner and discovered that the car spent most of its adolescence at the dragstrip and was driven equally spirited on the street. A refresh to the entire drivetrain was in order, and the Orr family and friends were up to the task.
The Barracuda was carefully thrown together in a matter of nine months and was ready to put on its game face for the Young Guns Class. His hard work paid off in dividends he couldn't have imagined as he took first place in the inaugural Young Guns Class. It has been eight years since that day, and he's maintained the car with meticulous precision all while enjoying 20,000 miles of open road travel.
The Orrs weren't done. There was still another gearhead in the family chomping at the bit to get a car going for herself, Gayle. Her '69 Sport Satellite wasn't always so drop-dead-gorgeous. Its humble beginnings started with destroyed frame rails, rusted floors, a junk automatic, and a strong-running 318. Inside, the original interior had been replaced with plush red velvet and seats from a Chrysler LeBaron. "My boyfriend and I spent our evenings and weekends disassembling the car only to find more and more things that were going to need work."
After they had the interior apart, Gayle started bodywork. "My mom and dad showed me the ins and outs of bodywork and I soon found out that there wasn't anything easy or clean about it." Removing the layers of paint revealed that the, now black, car was originally gold and that there was at least six different coats of paint and a gallon or two of body putty. The body needed a lot of work thanks to an abundance of rust, and three of the four frame rails needed to be replaced. "The frame rails are obviously a very crucial part of the restoration, so I left that up the expert, my dad. While he was doing that, I used the plasma cutter to cut the floors out, and that was a lot of fun." The year 2005 mostly consisted of Gayle and her family welding, applying body putty, and sanding.
When the 2006 Mopar Nationals rolled around, her car still wasn't done, which depressed her. "I found all the inspiration I needed when I stopped by the YearOne booth where they had their '69 "Red Runner" convertible on display, complete with billboard side stripes. It was like nothing I had ever seen and I couldn't keep my eyes off it. I couldn't leave the poor guys at YearOne alone." She was amazed that her car had that much potential, and began work on the Satellite as soon as they returned home, even though her dad had to begin the fall harvest. 2007 was the year of sandblasting, painting, more bodywork, and finally the drivetrain buildup. While the adequate 318 was healthy, it wasn't a big block. The Orrs had a spare 440 lying around the barn and took it to their local machine shop to be bored .030-inch over and threw in some stroker goodies from 440source.com. The final result was a 500-horse 505 Wedge, worthy of the billboard callouts on the rear fenders.
The car was ready for the 2008 Mopar NATS, and Gayle scrupulously dusted the car off and proudly displayed her longtime project that she cut-up, modified, and restored with the help of her family. It was enough to catch our attention. Sitting in her trunk was a photo book showing all the curious show-goers that her restoration was an accomplishment against the odds. (Editor's Note: We even teased her a little about the "borrowed" Young Guns banner from the previous year that was in some of the construction pictures.) It took first place in the Mopar Muscle Young Guns modified class and best in class. Something her younger brother, Gregg, had been rewarded with seven years before. Sadly, Gregg wasn't on hand for his sister's success as he was busy graduating from WyoTech technical school.
We ran into the two 25-year-old Orrs again at the 2009 NATS and they were both very happy and sad at the same time. It was the last year they could compete in the class as the rules stipulate that you must be 16-25. With both rides in the same place at the same time it only made sense to get them captured together.
The Orr family is car crazy, and that has comfortably reflected onto their children. Their common interest keeps them together. It has spawned multiple family project cars where everyone is ready to lend a hand to help a family member build their deadly weapon. Each of them has their next projects underway and we're sure to see them back in force each year at the NATS.
'68 Plymouth Barracuda Formula S Notchback
Owned By: Gregg Orr, Hamlet, Indiana
- Engine: You can't go wrong with a 340. The high-mile engine was rebuilt with all stock parts, from the pistons and rods to the crankshaft. Gregg had the block cleaned up by his cousin, who owns a machine shop and the cylinder heads were freshened up with hardened seats and received a three-angle valve job.
- Exhaust: Factory manifolds still are attached to heads, but they now feed a 2 1/2-inch TTi exhaust, complete with an H-pipe crossover and Flowmaster 40 Series mufflers.
- Transmission: A Hurst-shifted OEM 833 transmission.
- Rearend: The original sure grip 8 3/4-inch rear was rebuilt with original 3.23 gears.
- Suspension: Everything is stock and was restored using parts from PST.
- Brakes: The front and rear OEM drums were painted red to match the paint and remain stock.
- Wheels and Tires: He still has the original wheels but wanted something with more flash to them. He was limited in his wheel choice but chose wisely with a set of 14-inch Cragar SS wheels. The Cragars wear BFGoodrich T/A Radials, but he'll occasionally show it on the original wheels, shod in Coker Redline Bias Ply tires.
- Body: The car was pretty straight when he picked it up but had extensive damage from a hailstorm. Gregg completed the body work himself on the hail marks before sending it out for paint and remaining prep work.
- Paint: Gregg wanted to brighten the car up a little it and had Mark Shell Autobody paint the Formula S PR4 Flame Red. It was previously Matador Red.
- Interior: The pearl white front seats are original. The OEM buckets cleaned up and Auto Custom Carpet cut the red carpet, which cleanly accents the white vinyl seating areas. Gregg completed all work himself.
But Wait, There's More
There is, however, one more Orr family member ready for his time in the limelight. As the owner of a '68 Charger, younger brother Jimmie looks forward to completing it and competing in the Young Guns class. We're certain that if it's anything like his older sister's and brother's rides, it will impress everyone at the show. We asked Jimmie to tell us more about his '68 Charger.
Gayle spotted the car about 15 miles from their house, but it wasn't for sale. She tried to buy it several times herself, but there was no budging the owner. About a year later, a family friend gave them a good tip that the car was coming up for sale because his boss was the man's neighbor and saw the Charger was moved out in the front yard for a fast sell.
The Orr parents promptly headed over and bought the car. During this time, Jimmie was working on his own project, a '73 'Cuda, and it was already painted. "I kept looking at the Charger and thinking that I really wanted it to be my project. I was willing to give up the 'Cuda to do so." He finally worked up the nerve to ask his father if they could work something out where they could trade cars, and dad agreed.
When they picked the car up it was in approximately the same condition you see here. For now, it's powered by a 383 backed by an automatic, but Jimmie has some big plans for it. Falling right into his family's footsteps, he has a full restoration planned that includes a Keisler five-speed, a 440, a modern paint scheme, modern brakes, wheels, and exhaust. He would like to strip it down inside and out, and realizes this is an arduous undertaking. "I would like to have the car ready to compete in the Young Guns class very soon. Maybe not 2011 since it needs a lot of money and time, but soon." We're sure if he takes his time he won't fail to impress us like his other two siblings have. So keep your eyes open at the NATS for another Orr family production.
'69 Plymouth Sport Satellite
Owned By: Gayle Orr, Hamlet, Indiana
- Engine: The 318 was pulled out. In its place is a stroker 440 producing 505 cubic inches. It was taken from a big block 'Cuda and received a rotating assembly from 440source.com. The Comp Cams hydraulic camshaft is ground to .525-inch lift and 231/237-degrees of duration. Aluminum Edelbrock heads and intake manifold deliver the air and fuel from the 850cfm Edelbrock carburetor into the engine. The valves are 2.14-inch intake and 1.81-inch exhaust and are opened and closed by Mopar Performance springs and rocker arms. The ignition was converted over to an MSD electronic system and uses an MSD carburetor. The engine was built by the Orr family, and machine work was performed by their friend Butch Mecker.
- Exhaust: TTI mandrel bent 1 7/8-inch headers with ceramic coating feed into a 3-inch TTi system with Flowmaster 40 series mufflers.
- Transmission: A Keisler five-speed.
- Rearend: A stock 8 3/4-inch rearend with 3.55 gears and a SureGrip differential.
- Suspension: Stock restored suspension with Gabriel shocks up front and out back.
- Brakes: 11-inch SSBC Disc brake kit, front and rear.
- Wheels and Tires: Large, 18x9-inch Cragar SS wheels with 245/40ZR18 BFGoodrich tires.
- Body: The car was in very poor shape when Gayle acquired it. Her father replaced three out of the four frame rails while she cut out the floors with a plasma cutter. One of the front fenders was damaged and was also replaced. It took tedious attention with body filler to smooth the car out before it was painted.
- Paint: The Orrs brought on an old classmate of Gayle's, Frankie, who did some finishing touches on the body before he sprayed it down. Gayle couldn't make up her mind on the color choice and eventually went with black and white, as suggested by her dad.
- Interior: The powerhouse team of Gayle, Becky, Frankie, and Lonigro restored the interior and had the seats recoved in white vinyl with black carpeting from Legendary Auto Interiors. The stereo was replaced with a thumping setup from Sony and the steering wheel was replaced with a nice piece from Billet Specialties.