Dan and I knew we had to have the car finished for Jake's class' senior year-2002-'03. However, the date was moved ahead when we were invited by Mopar Muscle and the Mopar Nationals to display the 'Cuda as the centerpiece for "Young Guns" at the 2002 Mopar Nationals. Many long, hot days were put in on the 'Cuda, but just one week before the Nats, it was ready. We wanted to put 500 miles on it before driving it to Columbus. It was great having people put their thumbs up and yell out what a great job the boys had done. The car was ready for the Nationals, except for one piece-the chrome headlight bezel trim on the driver's side.
Fellow 'Cuda owners Denny and Lois Foster of Athens, Michigan, actually loaned us the needed piece from their recently restored 'Cuda. Mopar enthusiasts really do come together. We call the Foster's 'Cuda "Brother 'Cuda." It certainly could be the stronger twin sibling, with its 440 power and Lime Light topcoat-just like Jake's.
The Way Jake Wanted It
We've been asked why Lime Light? It's what Jake wanted. Jake's friends dreamed his dream with him. They knew what color, they knew the interior had to be white, and they even knew what kind of tires and wheels Jake had planned for his 'Cuda. We followed the information they offered.
It doesn't matter that Jake's AAR 'Cuda is a replica. It doesn't matter that lime green wasn't necessarily our choice of color. It doesn't matter that the engine isn't a 340 Six Pack as came originally in authentic AARs. What does matter is the 'Cuda is Jake's. It was his dream, and it is a dream come true-perhaps my family's also, as well as the entire Schoolcraft High School Class's of 2003.
A memorial from all to a dear friend lost. Sometimes our hearts ache, and we just don't know how we can go on without him. But then we remember he's happy, and we know he's smiling down on all of us.
The whole town now recognizes this 'Cuda that took only eleven months to restore from start to finish. When Jake's 'Cuda is out around town, people's smiles come not from its color, but from knowing that it's Jake's and that his friends and the small community came together to make his dreams a reality.
When we are asked, "What will you do with Jake's 'Cuda now that it's finished?" our response is, "Drive it!" Jake's 'Cuda was on display at the Mopar Nationals in the Young Guns judging class, where we were honored to award the First Annual Jake Maurer Memorial Trophy to Corey Pant for the top award with his '74 Duster.
One week later, the 'Cuda and Jake's friends were honored at the Kalamazoo Speedway in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The 'Cuda made two commemorative laps behind the pace car. Jake's 'Cuda has already won a beautiful trophy and was taken to Schoolcraft High School's Class of 2003 Picnic in the Park.
Then there's the Best Car of the Class of 2003. The popular vote has been cast and the votes tallied: The winner is Jake's 'Cuda, and the Class of 2003 should take pride in the fact that without them, it could have never been accomplished.
We don't really know what function Jake's friends want the 'Cuda to serve next, but those kids will do everything possible to assure it's where it needs to be. And we're sure Jake will be there with it.
The challenge of restoring, replicating, and modifying a Mopar is what makes Mopar enthusiasts who they are. For more mainstream musclecars, a part number and a checkbook are often all that's needed.
Additionally, the network of Mopar resources can be a challenge. Fortunately, Dan had restored more than just a couple of Mopars and has many available resources for E-Body Mopars.