High school can be one of the most exciting times of your life. It’s when you really come into your own and begin a path toward your future. This is also a time of freedom since each state decides that you, as a teenager, possess the skills needed to operate a motor vehicle. With the power of this plastic photo I.D. you can take on the roads of America in the vehicle of choice. Usually this isn’t anything special--a hand-me-down from the parents or whatever your part-time job could afford you to get--but we all dream. Gail Brown dreamt big and always knew, one day, he would own a Plymouth ’Cuda.
That day came in 2004 when Gail bought not one, but two ’Cudas--a ’72 and a ’74. The plan was to share parts between them and create a complete car out of the pair. "I decided that I would take parts off of the ’72 and add them to the ’74," he says. Over the course of six years, Gail would accumulate all the parts, paint, and labor necessary to materialize his dream with a small twist.
The ’74 was Hemi Orange with a blackout hood, body-colored stripes, and a vinyl top. "I don’t know if the car came this way, or even if it could be ordered this way, but I liked the way it looked," Gail explains. Since the ’74 was in better shape and he enjoyed the looks, he decided to keep it that way. The E-Body was sent over to the experts at SVE Autobody in Broomfield, Colorado, where Butch Powers took the time to align the doors and body panels before sealing the car away in the paint booth to work his magic. The ’Cuda was coated in Hemi Orange, and Butch masked the hood off to throw on a coat of gloss black to accentuate the hoodscoops with the stripes. After paint, the car was sent to Rich Lawrence at Auto Interiors Plus, also in Broomfield. There, the car’s interior was given a helping of new black carpet, cloth seat covers, headliner, and a leather dash. Parts from the ’72 found their way inside to help complete the cabin.
Inside, the E-Body’s black cabin is very welcoming and the red ’Cuda floor mats add some c
Taking a look underneath the tired E-Body, there was some freshening up to do. Several bushings were replaced along with new front torsion bars and rear springs. The rest was left stock with shared parts from the ’72. Original steel Rallye wheels were bolted on with a set of Cooper Cobra Radial T/A tires meeting the road. Lurking underneath the hood is a worked-over 340 transplanted from the ’72. The engine was taken to the experts at Autosport Werks, also in Broomfield. There, Paul Burke punched out the LA block .030-inch over to a 4.070-inch bore along with a 3.58-inch stroke Mopar Performance crank. Final displacement comes out to 373 cubic inches.
Not wanting to deal with the hassle of a carburetor in Colorado--something about elevation changes--Gail decided to go with a comprehensive fuel injection system from Electromotive. The Mopar M1 intake was modified to accept the injectors and fuel rails, while the ignition was converted over to the TEC-II controller that eliminates the need for a distributor. A custom, hydraulic roller cam and supporting valvetrain were installed, and Paul was ready to fire it up and begin tuning.
With the car completed and the fuel injection pumping, Gail now has a hassle-free driver that he and his wife can enjoy. "I built it so my wife and I could cruise around in it," he says. "Now I can finally enjoy the car I dreamt of in high school." He tries to drive it any chance he gets but, like most Colorado muscle cars, he’s restricted by weather from time to time. It took years of waiting and a six-year restoration, but it’s finally complete. The ’Cuda lives up to his dreams and is all he could have wished for.
Upon first glance, this small-block doesn’t look like anything different. Then you notice
’74 Plymouth ’Cuda
Owned by: Gail Brown
- Engine: A ’72 340 was the starting point for the engine build. It was sent to Autosport Werks in his hometown where Paul Burke performed the engine work. The bore size was increased by .030 during machining to 4.070-inches and is filled with DRP flat-top forged pistons. The wristpins tether down a set of 6.100 Childs and Albert I-Beam connecting rods mounted on a Mopar Performance 3.58-inch forged crank. Calculated compression comes out to a healthy 10.5:1 and displacement is 373 cubic inches. For the cam selection, Gail went with a hydraulic roller with Crane hydraulic lifters and Comp pushrods and springs. Paul treated the Mopar W2 heads to a multi-angle valve job before bolting them to the LA block. Mounted on top of the engine is a Mopar Performance M1 intake that was modified to accept an Electromotive Direct Port Fuel Injection system. An Electromotive TEC-II controller controls ignition. The exhaust is a custom 3-inch system from Metal Works and the oiling system is stock.
- Transmission: The original, rebuilt TorqueFlite still handles the shifting.
- Rearend: The original 8-inch rear with a Sure Grip and 4.10 gears.
- Suspension: stock restored
- Brakes: The stock front discs and rear drums have been properly rebuilt and maintained.
- Wheels and Tires: An original set of Rallye wheels feature staggered Cooper Cobra Radial T/A tires, measuring 225/60R15 up front and 255/60R15 out back.
- Paint/Body: Thanks to the donor ’72, there was little bodywork to do, aside from alignment and smoothing. The car was sent to SVE Automotive in Broomfield where Butch Powers performed all the bodywork and paint. The car is sprayed with hemi orange and has a blackout hood with body colored striped down the original ’74 hood.
- Interior: Inside, Rich Lawrence from Auto Interiors Plus freshened things up with new black carpeting, seat covers, headliner, and covered the dash in leather.