Often, it's the rarity or color that makes a particular car special. But this '70 AAR replica is special because it's Jake's 'Cuda.
This was a dream of a 16-year-old boy who found his 'Cuda in a neighboring community through a gentleman named Koley New, who sold it to Jake on May 8, 2001. To call it a car was certainly a reach, for it was trailered home without an engine or transmission. It was a rust bucket lacking hard-to-find front fenders and holding a ton of parts that had been thrown inside. However, despite the condition, Jake had a vision-perhaps more of a dream.
Although we had found other deals on Mopars in our effort to make Jake a Mopar man, Jake always told his dad, "I'm going to wait for a 'Cuda." When it was found, bought, and brought home, Jake's next couple of months were spent removing parts and taking inventory. Mostly, the time was spent simply hanging out with friends and dreaming of what his car would look like someday.
Our lives were shattered just two months after Jake bought his 'Cuda, when he was killed in an auto accident.
The morning after his death, we decided to sell it. Then, as the day unfolded, Jake's friends filled our home-the one place they could all be together. Jake's friendly smile had captured many hearts.
That afternoon, his friends came to us and said they wanted to restore Jake's 'Cuda. He had hoped to win a mock election held at school, having his 'Cuda voted "best car" of the Class of 2003. We knew in our hearts that putting Jake's 'Cuda back on the road meant a great deal to his friends, so we agreed to help them bring it back to life.
Our family already had plans to attend the Mopar Nationals in Columbus, Ohio, in August 2001. We make the trip each year and love to share our love of Mopars with our three sons. Jake had been looking forward to shopping the swap meet and had already started his list of things, which two weeks after his death, his father, brothers, and some of his friends went instead to shop for. While there, some very special people found out about our story, and the following week, we were contacted by Mopar Muscle in regards to their role in making our son's dream a reality.
I remember that letter quite well and still have it today. It was that letter that made Jake's dream begin taking form.
The Restoration Begins
We found a great body man in Ken Racine of Comstock, Michigan. He had restored other vehicles and paid close attention to details inside and out. Jake's 'Cuda needed much more metal repair than we thought, but Ken made it come to life.
Little by little, the 'Cuda started taking shape in his garage. Meanwhile, Dan still sought out fenders and a taillight filler panel, and Jake's friends were busy raising funds for the 'Cuda restoration. Congregating at our home, they made posters and placed them in canisters of businesses in our small community of Schoolcraft, Michigan.
Focus on Winning
Jake's friends on the Schoolcraft High School football team dedicated their season in memory of Jake. Their determination was evident when the Eagles traveled to the Pontiac Silverdome to compete and win the State Championship title. A banner, "In Memory of #51 Jake Maurer" rode with them to the top.
Another victory was taking form as Ken Racine completed the body and paint on the 'Cuda. In spring 2002, the 'Cuda came home, and then the work really began for the boys and Dan. As parts shipments arrived almost daily, friends came in and out all day long. Sometimes it was just one that spent the entire day, but they all chipped in.
The days were hot. The work was hard. We set up portable fans in our workshop while parts were being cleaned and polished. We know Jake had to be smiling. His dedicated friends were driven-they had a goal to win the best car of the Class of 2003 for Jake and his 'Cuda.