Being born with the last name Ferrari comes with its ups it downs. It's probably one of the coolest names in the world, but the downside to it is that you'll always have the question about your association with the late Enzo Ferrari. Well, Robert Ferrari was never caught up with the name, or the cars that wore the name he carried. He only cared about Mopar muscle cars, and this is his '68 Coronet R/T, a car he formed a relationship with shortly after his birth.
Before Robert was born, his father took a trip to Reedman Motors in Langhorne, Pennsylvania, to order a new Coronet. There was a brand-new R/T sitting on the lot, and they took it home. It wound up performing the role as the family car for many years, and was even used to pick Robert up from the hospital. "It was the first car I was ever in, and my relationship with the car began there."
During its time as the family car, the Coronet made several cross-country trips from their home in New York. "We drove to Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone National Park, Mount Rushmore, Mexico, and Los Angeles, just to name a few," he says. To no surprise, the Mopar held up well, and there wasn't a single mechanical failure.
When Robert received his learner's permit in 1986, there was only one vehicle he considered driving-the Coronet. The family found a replacement vehicle for the tired B-Body, but there was still a lot of life left in her, as far as Robert was concerned. He drove the car all through high school, and part of college, before he retired it at his parents' house in Scottsdale, Arizona. There it sat for about five years with a blown engine. "My father and I decided we would do an engine swap to get her back on the road, but it took on a life of its own," he recalls.
In 1997, they ordered a Mopar crate engine from Jay Dyson at Pitre Chrysler Plymouth. Greulich's Automotive in Scottsdale helped them tear down the car. It was then decided that they would fully restore the R/T and make it into a custom muscle car. They took the body to Tim Simmons at Painting Plus in Mesa, Arizona, to complete the extensive paint and bodywork that would need to be performed. The trunk floor was replaced along with partial floorpans, both lower quarters, and the driver-side rear wheelwell. Once the work was finished, it was painted in the stunning Plum Crazy color.
With the body in paint, the reassembly started. Bill McKenzie, the owner of Greenway Auto in Phoenix, and his lead mechanic, Ed Riley, helped them get the car back together. Midway through the buildup, the car was brought back to Robert's house and Ed continued to come over and help him. For the interior, Stephens Performance out of Anderson, Alabama, was a great help in finding some rare, hard-to-find pieces. YearOne and Summit Racing were used for the other items. Everything was brought to Chuck Booth in Phoenix to be installed and carefully restored.
The suspension was rebuilt back to stock, and a new rear was selected for the car. "Houser's Rearend Service in Pennsylvania supplied me with a SureGrip Dana 60 with 3.54 gears. Sadly, Art Houser passed away in a car accident shortly after I received the rear," recalls Robert. As the project pressed on, safety couldn't be overlooked. The drum brakes were tossed aside, and a disc brake conversion from SSBC was installed for the front. To hold Robert into the car, purple four-point RCI harnesses were put in, in place of the original seatbelts.