We know the factory built some pretty nasty machinery, but being motorheads, we still ask ourselves, "What if..." For Bob Kudirka of Ellicott City, Maryland, the question might have been, "What if Chrysler had built some of those '68 Hurst Super Stock cars as convertibles?" But rather than just guessing, Bob worked out this hypothesis himself.
The base was a '69 Barracuda convertible he purchased about nine years ago. Needing some attention, the car went to a (shhh) Mustang enthusiast in Baltimore named John Wilson. Wilson worked his magic to create slippery fish panels (better 'n horse skinning, eh, John), then covered them with smooth-as-silk B6 Blue. With the body finished, attention turned to the interior. Legendary Auto Interiors came up with fresh components such as the door panels and seat hides as well as a new convertible top and boot, all of which were applied by Roy Barnes of Annapolis, Maryland. The factory dash still houses the needed engine-monitoring gauges, and even the factory AM radio is in place, while the drop-top's floor is covered by dark blue carpet from Auto Custom Carpets.
With the comfort chores handled, speed was now the name of the game. Since Bob has his own auto repair and machine shop, it's easy to see how he handled the entire engine machining and building portion by himself. Have you ever heard somebody talk about his brother-in-law's "440 Wedge/Hemi?" Well, Bob's Hemi-headed engine began life as a '69 440 mill. Opened up to 446 cubic inches, custom Arias 10.5:1 pistons built the compression with the help of a steel 440 crank and 440hp rods, and a Mopar Performance street Hemi hydraulic cam went into the middle. On top of this, he installed a pair of Mopar Performance Stage V aluminum wedge-to-Hemi design conversion heads. This seldom-seen adaptation allows Hemi heads and intakes to bolt up to a standard RB block. Perched atop the heads is a reproduction crossram by Rick Allison of Camby, Indiana, supporting the duo of Holley carbs ala the Super Stock era. A tight squeeze in the A-Body engine bay, Bob fabricated his own headers by redesigning a set of 440 units (one side actually winds forward of the steering box), which were then Jet-Hot coated and bolt to a 3-inch tti exhaust.
Transferring the power out back is a 727-transmission built by A&A Transmissions-another business owned by Rick Allison-utilizing a 2,800-stall torque converter. From there, the rubber-burning energy ends up at the 3.91 Sure Grip-filled 831/44 rear. For nostalgic-looking "sneakers," Bob chose American racing wheels measuring 14x6 inches in front and 15x8 in the rear, all wrapped in BFGoodrich rubber.
There will always by "what if" questions about the musclecar era; thanks to Bob, we now know the answer to one of them. On America's dragstrips, this thing would have been diabolical!