After getting it home, I immediately began researching it with the Motor Vehicle Department and found the car was still registered to the original owner at an Orlando address. I went there to see if he might still have the title, fearful he might also decide he wanted the car back! As it was, the owner was still there and told me what had happened.
He had been in the orchestra at Walt Disney World but got fired for being intoxicated on the job. Out of work for months, he left the car at the farmhouse where he was staying in lieu of the back rent; the lady who owned the farm had made the trade to the man I bought it from for tractor work. That was the last time he had seen the car. Though his license had been permanently revoked due to his drinking problems, he agreed he would help me get a new title. We applied for a new title, which came in his name but also had a $3,000 bank lien attached to it! However, that bank was out of business. I sent a registered letter to the banking chain that had bought it, and they in turn sent me a statement that the car was free from the lien. That out of the way, the original owner signed the title to me as he had promised. I offered to pay him for his troubles, but he declined and told me to just enjoy the car.
As built, the car is a numbers-matching 340, and though it was sitting for 10 years, the only thing missing was the carb and air cleaner. I had a Hemi engine that I had bought from Steve Seigel (a former Mopar Muscle staff member), and decided to build a Hemi clone. The magazine had used this engine for a story and it was a stock rebuild. This is mated to a 727 Torqueflite and a 3.23-filled 8.75 Sure Grip rearend.
I cleaned up the rusty stuff and did the bodywork myself, then had a friend, Dale Dinse of Orange City, Florida, spray the body Lemon Twist Yellow. I also redid the interior using parts from Legendary Interiors. The factory 15x7 Rallyes use BFGoodrich tires.
This is a great car to own, but I have to give credit to one very important person in doing this, my 71-year-old mother. Because I am confined to a wheelchair, she had been a very big help in having car restoration as a hobby. In the disassembly, cleaning, bead-blasting, painting, or re-assembly, she helped all the way through the process of redoing this car, whether handing me tools or helping me set the motor mounts up. She loves the car as much as I do, and I have to thank her for her help and inspiration.
The cars are much alike in so many ways, yet each is a unique and wonderful individual. Based on what has happened already, we think these guys will continue treating them well.