Canada is a mostly uninhabited land with the occasional booming city and quiet, quaint towns sprinkling the lower half of the country. This "land of the north" is also pummeled every year during the winter, its seasons filled with snow, sleet, and the occasional rainy day. The car culture in Canada is surprisingly akin to that of the states, in spite of the almost mandatory hibernation during the winter days. Canadians are big muscle car junkies, and Lars Skroder may be one of the biggest.
Lars is an air-ambulance operations director who once called Vancouver, British Columbia home but has since moved to Nashville, Tennessee. His passion for Mopars started back in his youth in B.C., and he brought it with him into the States. Like many, Lars and his brother Tor saw the movie Vanishing Point when they were teens in 1987. "We were at our Uncle George's house and were hit with the bug," says Lars. "We were only 16 and 17 and on a limited budget, but we were determined to find a Mopar of our own to build." The brothers searched high and low around B.C. for a car they could get, and were given a lead from a co-worker about a '71 GTX being sold by a friend, Jim Miller.
"We gave Jim a call and arranged to drive over and take a look," recalls Lars. "It was sitting in his grandmother's garage, where it had been resting since 1979 when it was taken off the road." This conscious-minded storage also assisted in its preservation. Much to Lars' and Tor's surprise, the body was in terrific shape-the salt-covered winter roads never had a chance to eat away at the body. The car was all original, sprayed in Curious Yellow on the outside with a coating of white on the inside. But the motor was in pieces and out of the car, and the bucket seats were missing. Still, the body was straight as an arrow and lured the brothers into making a deal with Jim. To their surprise, Jim threw in several NOS parts to sweeten the deal.
The papers were signed in September and Lars and Tor towed the car back to their family farm where they began work on the GTX. With the engine already out of the car, they decided to tackle the front suspension first. With the help of an old neighborhood mechanic, they also began to reassemble the engine. "We worked through the winter and by the following spring we were getting closer to having the car running," says Lars. "We were still missing the front bucket seats, so we used a milk crate as a substitute." The brothers finally found the parts they were looking for when they found a Road Runner to use as a parts car. "It had all the small parts we needed, so we bought it for $300 and a used VCR," he jests.
This engine was the source...
This engine was the source of a lot of frustration-about 20 years of it.
The 440 features all the right...
The 440 features all the right parts and runs considerably better than it did before it was tucked away in the barn with a bent pushrod.
"By the summer of 1989, we were ready to pump fuel through the six barrels and awaken the sleeping 440," Lars says. After a short few seconds they realized something was wrong, and, after some investigation, they discovered a bent pushrod. This was a massive let-down for the brothers who had worked so hard to get it running only to find that they were rolling back down the mountain. They were too discouraged and, with less free time on their hands, they decided to close the doors to the barn. The GTX went back into hibernation for another 20 years.