Of the endless amount of body styles Ma Mopar produced, the B-Body rides have proven themselves over and over as the ride of choice (at least by the letters we receive). Road Runners, GTXs, Coronets, and Chargers seem to be what most readers are building. Concours restorations still have their coveted place, but often car enthusiasts are building their rides with more personal touches than the factory offered.
Is this a bad thing? Definitely not. The variety of details and personal touches allows us to venture into a car show and get a myriad of new ideas for our cars. The two modified marauders here have likely never met, but they show a diversity of ideas in quality street crafting. The one thing these drop-tops have in common is a cutting edge look at what's possible if you dream.
Class ActDon Schall of Rochester, New York, says the so-called popular muscle platforms are not the only things worth enhancing, and his '65 Coronet is a prime example. From a distance, one would think it's a restored car with a new set of wheels. Closer examination, however, proves this is no ordinary Dodge.
Don started with a shell of a convertible and enlisted the aid of Mike Servas of Five Guys Collision. Servas and crew straightened and replaced the sheetmetal, added new rear framerails, and installed subframe connectors. A new '64/'65 Race Hemi-style scoop from Kramer Automotive was bolted on the hood and everything was painted '98 Intense Blue Pearl. A final touch: all of the missing stainless trim was replaced in airbrushed detail by local craftsman Brian the Brush.
These little features blew our minds. How about the working third brake light mounted in the trunk lid? Another trick feature that makes the nose look a little different is "old school;" notice the single headlights? Don used a grille restored by Special T's that incorporates only one headlight per side ala AFX '65 style, instead of the factory double layout. The front suspension is still torsion bar, but a rack-and-pinion steering system helps cut corners.
Carrying out the "custom" theme meant a custom interior, so the seats of Don's ride were pirated from a '94 Buick Regal, while the console and shifter were removed from a '95 Dodge Intrepid. Carl's Auto Seat in Rochester, New York, covered everything with gray leather. The factory dash was replaced by a custom-built unit housing a full complement of Classic Instruments gauges to monitor what's happening up front. A Ron Francis Wire Works harness was installed to send the electrical signals to items such as the gauges, ignition, and other electronics. It's hard to notice the Vintage Air air conditioning because all the hoses and wires were hidden.
These days it seems the Hemi engine is finding more homes than ever before. Don wanted a Hemi in his ride, but added a twist. For starters, the block was sent to Drake's Engines in New York and opened up .030-inches. The stock crank and rods, although lightened and polished, were reassigned to the task of spinning the Keith Black 10.25:1 pistons in their respective bores. The factory cast heads were then ported and polished and the stock valves were reinstalled. To give his Hemi a new-age flavor, a custom-built EFI unit was mounted in front of a sheetmetal intake. The spent gases exit via a modified set of race-type headers and the 3-inch Jet-Hot coated exhaust. Transferring the power to the 3.23 geared and Sure Grip filled 831/44 housing is a 518-overdrive transmission reprogrammed with a TransGo kit and a 10-inch TCI torque converter.
If you wonder how he stops those big 17x8 Colorado wheels with 215-50-17 Michelin radials up front and the 17x12s with 335-35-17s in back, he's hidden the power brake unit under the dash.
When we met up with Don at the 2001 Chryslers at Carlisle event, he was just starting to clean off the 400-plus miles of road grime he accumulated driving to the event. In Don's own words, "Who needs a trailer?" We were sold. This ride is one of the cleanest resto-mod style buildups we've seen, and whether on the showfield or the highway, it's definitely a class act.
Red Alert-Glen Melby's '64 FuryGlen Melby's automotive dream started in the fall of 1963 while he was exiting Beloit Memorial High School at lunchtime. It was then he saw a Ruby Red '64 Plymouth Sport Fury convertible. Over the years he owned many Mopars, including a white '64 Fury two-door hardtop. It just wasn't his dream car.
In October 1991, while reading Hemming's Motor News, he saw an ad for a "'64 Sport Fury convertible partially restored, California car, no rust, some new chrome, new top, complete car but no engine and trans, for sale or trade." His wife Dianne immediately said, "Get it" (she's a keeper, Glen), and a deal was struck. Without seeing the car, a check was mailed to California and the seller lined up transportation to get the car to Glen. However, when Glen called to confirm this, the transport company said they didn't move unfinished cars. He finally found a trucking company in Florida, RE Auto Transporters, that had a truck in L.A. and would bring the car to its new home.
Though solid, the body was in primer with no top, and was full of boxes. The first order of business was to get it up on a rotisserie and media-blast it at Musclecar Restorations. Next, Glen had the shell acid-dipped. Although he had planned on doing things himself, he ran into Rick Phillips, whose '63 Dodge was then being painted by John Balow's crew at Musclecar Restorations. After checking it out, John came to Glen's home to give him an estimate on the car. Dianne just said, "Send it to him" (we're tellin' ya, Glen, it don't get no better than that).
When the body came back, Glen continued to accumulate parts and installed the rear springs and differential. He says he felt overwhelmed by this first attempt at such a massive project. He learned how to powdercoat in his garage and coated every bracket on the car whether it was visible or not.
The 426 wedge motor came out of a '64 Dodge, and the machine work was done at Power Built Engines in Burlington, Wisconsin. The engine was filled with fully floating Ross pistons hung on the stock rods. It also has a stock forged crank, and the rotating assembly has been balanced; Kent Nelson handled the assembly. Muscle Motors "killer street heads" were installed, and an Edelbrock dual quad manifold with two 500-cfm carbs added the visual finishing touch and performance to the motor. The factory high-performance exhaust manifolds were Jet Hot-coated and mated to a complete 211/44-inch stainless exhaust system exiting through stainless Dynomax mufflers. Mike Koehler in Beloit built the 727 transmission. The case was powdercoated and filled with a mild shift kit and stall converter. The factory shifter was chromed and modified for single-cable shifting, eliminating the factory dual-cable setup. An 831/44 Sure Grip rear from a '65 Dodge was filled with 3.55 Richmond gears and The Driveline Shop Inc. of Springfield, Missouri, furnished the polished aluminum driveshaft.
Glen and friend Kent Olsen restored the interior to its factory red and white hue using parts from Legendary Auto Interiors. The stereo was mounted in the glove box with an infrared repeater installed in the face of the existing AM radio. A remote control operates the Eclipse AM/FM/CD even with the glove box door closed. Remote power door locks and an alarm system with a pager were also installed. It's James Bond all the way, baby.
A Vintage Air heat and air conditioning unit was installed in the original heater box location. The compressor was mounted below the alternator with the lines, made by Tubes and Hoses in Janesville, Wisconsin, hidden in the right-front wheel well.
Stopping the red car in our mod squad are front disc brakes from Master Power Brakes with the rear utilizing 11-inch drums. Bill's Special T's Unlimited of Prospect Heights, Illinois, restored all of the aluminum trim and the dash bezels. A high school friend and artist, Roger Foss of Foss Signs in Beloit, Illinois, repainted all the red/white/blue accents on the trim. So, after approximately 3,000 hours and ten months of labor, he was driving, not trailering, the roarin' '64 from Wisconsin to Columbus, Ohio, for the 2001 Mopar Nats.
This pair of beasts represents the higher end of the hobby; the time, effort, and money are evident from every angle. On the other hand, the ideas that make them stand out from the crowd can also be applied to any project you might be contemplating. Think about it.