For as long as Mitch Klann of Paxton, Illinois, can remember, he has been a fan of Harley Davidson motorcycles. He's had several different bikes and customized them to the limits of what can be done. But, while growing up--and even later in life--all of his friends had muscle cars. As Mitch says, "In the small town where I live here in East Central Illinois, we have a strong following of Mopars. Hence, I knew it was only a matter of time before I [had to get one]." If you own a motorcycle, and have four children that want to go for a ride, that means four separate trips around the block. This realization prompted Mitch to finally get off his steel horse and into a Fish. His dream car has always been a '70 'Cuda. In order to fulfill that dream, he sold the Harley, saved what he could for a while, and then narrowed his search down to a convertible. It took him over a year and a couple thousand miles of travel to finally find that car that was up to his expectations. When he jumped in an airplane, and landed in Fargo, North Dakota, he soon realized this was the end of his journey. He toured the collection of a local gentleman and found his dream car. "It was as close to stock and as perfect as you could get a 340 triple black 'Cuda with a four-speed. He needed to make room, so I took care of his problem," says Mitch.
Looks stock, huh? The rear side-panel speakers, column-mounted tachometer, and the head un
Since he felt this was the car he wanted, he flew back to home, grabbed the family, and truck and trailer, and made a family vacation out of picking the car up. "My wife was impressed; however, she knew I would have to put my [personal] touches on it," continued Mitch. That's exactly what he did. The first thing he thought he wanted to do was replace the 340 with something a little more, shall we say, intimidating? Through some friends, he found out about Muscle Motors in Lansing, Michigan, and decided that Mike and the guys were the ones to build his new engine, and in Mitch's eyes, that engine had to be a Hemi. He started out thinking that a 426-incher would suffice, but then realized there is something to be said about having the number 5 being the first number when talking displacement. So he had a 528-inch Hemi built.
But the engine wasn't the only "upgrade" that he wanted to do. Mitch tells us, "Muscle Motors then led me to Big Hemi Customs who specialize in restoring and modifying muscle cars." He didn't want his car to have totally stock appearance, so the guys at Big Hemi painted the engine and a stock air cleaner black. Because of the limited clearance issues, it took several modifications and test fittings to get it right.
With the engine swap handled, it was time for other modifications. So, new wheels and tires, a floor console, and rim-blow steering wheel were installed. Finally, the car was lowered for a killer stance. With the rather large form of motorvation under the hood, he knew that the stock drum brakes had to go, so Wilwood disc brakes were added on each corner. The last point of business was to slap on the Hemicuda emblem on the hood, followed by a matte black hockey stripe, and the car was completed--for now at least. Mitch says he couldn't be more pleased, especially when the kids all say faster, daddy, faster, and this time they all say it at the same time. mm
18-inch Bonspeed wheels fill the slightly lowered wheelwells just right.
Some guys don't like bigger wheels on their muscle cars, but the way this one looks, there
An all-Hemi tire-frier is capable of turning the rear Nittos into asphalt crayons at will.
'70 Cuda Convertible
Mitch Klann, Paxton, Illinois
- Engine: In 1970, this 'Cuda was shipped with a powerful-enough-for-some 340. Now, however, this one has a too-powerful-for-some Hemi that displaces 528 inches. Muscle Motors accomplished that by utilizing a 4.15-inch bore, and a 4.500-inch stroke crankshaft. Connecting rods are Muscle Motors proprietary pieces measuring 6.86 inches, and are connected to a set of Icon pistons. The Muscle Motors guys had a Comp cams grind a roller to their specs, and the aluminum MP heads feature a good porting and valve job. An MP dual-plane intake supports a Quick Fuel carburetor, and a Firecore distributor sets off the eight individual cylinder explosions. Finally, a set of tti headers and a 3-inch exhaust are mated to a pair of Flowmaster mufflers.
- Transmission: Nothing works as good as a four-speed Hemi box, so that's what is used.
- Rear: It's a basic 8-3/4 with 3.55 highway gears--it works, and makes the 'vert a blast to drive.
- Suspension: Up front, the factory pieces were freshened up and put back in service. A set of replacement leaf springs and shocks round out the suspension. Tying it all together is a custom set of frame connectors by Big Hemi.
- Brakes: Binding everything up is a set of Wilwood disc brakes on all four corners.
- Wheels/Tires: Bonspeed filled the wheel department, and are polished Superstars that measure 18x8 and 18x9 inches respectively. If you need a tire that grips, the Nitto 235/40-18 and 275/40-18s do the trick.
- Paint/Body: When Mitch bought the 'Cuda, Quality Auto body in Fargo, North Dakota, had already covered the metal with a coating of TX9 black.
- Interior: The interior was already restored back to original when Mitch bought the car, but he added the Rimblow steering wheel, and the JVC head unit that features Orion and Phoenix speakers. The trunk-filling sub box houses two 8-inch subs and two amplifiers. Black vinyl and plexiglass finish out the trunk, and was built by Vibez Performance Audio in Champaign, Illinois.