"I bought the car in October 1996," remembers Fall River, Wisconsin, resident Mark Schumann of his '70 'Cuda. "It was sitting in the showroom of a dealership in Baraboo. The car looked great, but I knew right away that the 383 wasn't enough, so we went to something that would draw attention...a Hemi!"
While some restoration-conscious folks out there may question Mark's reasoning for ditching a conservatively strong 383 in favor of a raucous Hemi V8, you've got to admit that nothing could put quite the same zing in a 'Cuda ragtop.
So Mark tapped Herman's Motor Clinic for the engine buildup. Starting with a new MP 426 casting, the block was bored .030 over, then the crank was fitted with Childs & Albert
I-beam connecting rods topped with 10.25:1 JE pistons. This was followed by the addition of a solid-lifter Crower cam spec'ed at 284/294 duration and .520/.511 lift, and Mopar aluminum heads were chosen for topside duties. These were ported and equipped by Manley Severe Duty valves (2.25 intake and 1.94 exhaust) and Crower springs. Placed between the heads was a Mopar M1 intake topped with a Holley 850 cfm carb. Stout stuff.
For torque transfer duties, Mark chose a New Process 833 Hemi Box four-speed tranny. This is led by a Centerforce clutch disc and pressure plate bolted to a billet aluminum flywheel. By the time this issue goes to press, however, Mark plans to have installed a five-speed overdrive tranny from Keisler Automotive, "So we can cruise all day at 80 mph."
To get the level of perfection they wanted from the pseudo-Hemi drop top, the convertible was sent to Bob Boness and Bruce Brandt of Brandt Autobody for the disassembly and rework, with a basically stock restored appearance in mind.
"We began with the obvious items, such as the K-frame, radiator support, Hemi four-speed, original power brake booster and master cylinder, then moved on to smaller items such as torsion bars, leaf springs, and fuel lines."
Attention was also given to the limited-slip Dana 60 rearend with 3.73 gears, new disc/drum brakes, and gas shocks tacked to the four corners. For the wheel and tire combo, Mark hung with the factory Rallye wheels and opted for Goodyear E-70s up front and G-60s in back.
"One of the biggest obstacles was the Shaker hood. The 383 manifold height is different from the Hemi. After buying a new base unit from Year One and making some modifications to it, the hood fit perfectly. Another big problem was the exhaust manifolds. They were back-ordered forever, but we finally got a set."
In the interim, the Brandt boys wrapped up the bodywork and applied a fresh coat of the original-color Plum Crazy Purple. Inside, Mark went for a black leather interior, also supplied by Year One. The white interior that was in the convertible had begun to turn yellow, Mark explained, so it presented a perfect opportunity to "upgrade" to basic black.
Gradually, the project came together, but not without a few hitches.
"The car didn't come with the lower rocker extensions," says Mark, "so we ordered a set. We just didn't like the quality of the reproduction pieces, so N.O.S. pieces had to be located. I finally found them from a friend of a friend who had a 'Cuda in 1970. The car was in an accident, so when he got the new rocker extensions from the dealership that repaired the car, he decided he liked the car better without them. He stored them in his garage for 28 years-original wrapping and all-right from Plymouth!"
Mark admits that the car had a few glitches once completed, but he was having a blast with it when we shot these photos at the Mopar Nationals last year. Already the perfect highway star, the roar of the Hemi and the cry of the crowd make this 'Cuda one for the road.