The E-Body has reached "exotic" status in the Mopar family. Their prices are soaring, and the cars are in high demand. In recent times, shops have been pumping out some crazy modified Challengers and 'Cudas. One look at Bill Ewell's '70 'Cuda and you might assume that it's just another shop car. But when you find out that his hands were involved in every part of the build and that most of the work was done in his driveway, you'll know you assumed wrong.
Bill has owned many A- and B-Bodies since he was in high school. he was never really a fan of the E-Body, but they eventually grew on him over the years. In early 1998, he began looking for an E-Body. He searched from California to New Jersey, but nothing came up. Then a coworker told him about one stored in his neighbor's garage. Bill remembered seeing the white 'Cuda around town a few times, but it wasn't for sale, so he just continued to drive his '69 340 Swinger. Several months went by, and he heard from a friend that there was a white '70 'Cuda for sale. He knew there was only one white one in town, so he called his coworker to get the scoop. It turned out the 'Cuda was now for sale, so Bill went and purchased it that day. It was clean, numbers-matching, and powered by a 383 backed by a four-speed.
The ride height was lowered but the body was left untouched. Bill feels that Plymouth hit
Bill drove the 'Cuda for about a year until the clutch started slipping. Being the gearhead that he is, he knew this was a great time to do a full restoration. Every car starts with a dream or a vision, and he was dreaming big. He felt that Plymouth hit the nail on the head with the looks of the 'Cuda, and he wanted his car to have the same look with just some minor cosmetic changes.
"I wanted to lower it, put modern wheels on it, and go over the top with performance," Bill says.
After some debate about what color to paint the car, a friend suggested black. "What's better than a triple-black 'Cuda? Nothing!" Bill exclaims. From that day on, the car was known as Black Betty. That name choice took on an eerie element because almost every time they worked on the car, that song, performed by Ram Jam, would play on the radio.
The interior was left unmolested except for a few upgrades. With all the custom, crazy int
Well, you can't make a car look evil unless you match those looks by putting in an equally menacing powerplant under the hood. The latest trend was to install a new fuel-injected Hemi, but Bill wanted to be different. Shortly after getting started on his project, the opportunity to buy a 451 stroker came up. His buddy, Bobby Reese, had a 451 short-block sitting in his shop for one of his race cars. Bill persuaded Bobby to sell him the engine so he could put it in his 'Cuda. Together, they built the engine into a total screamer and put a Tremec TKO five-speed behind it.
For the body, Bill enlisted the help of his friend Zeke Ballinger, who had restored several cars and was up to the task of paint and bodywork. For several years, they worked on the car in Bill's driveway, getting all the little things fixed and attaching the car to a rotisserie. Zeke sprayed it down with PPG and U-Tech basecoat and clearcoat, which was followed by 65 hours of wet sanding and polishing by Bill. "I have learned so much about paint since doing this project. there's nothing like learning on a black car," says Bill.
After the paint was finished, things slowed down while Bill went through a divorce. He feared the car might have to go, and he would never be able to finish it. But, thankfully, he was able to keep the car and complete his project.
One of the first things people notice are the different colored wheels. Bill liked the red
With the shaker scoop removed, it's still hard to tell the 383 was replaced with a 451. A