Dennis spent the next four months tracking a Hemi automatic. He finally found one in Waco, Georgia, sitting, of all places, in a milk house. "I went down there for a Talladega race in the heat of August. I pulled up that first day. He wasn't there. I pulled up the second day. He was in bed and they didn't want to get him up. I stayed the third day and here he came walking out of the house. I told him who I was. He said, 'Oh, yeah.' I said, 'You got a '70 Hemi automatic?' He says, 'Yeah, I think that's what it is.' And I had the part number. He went in the milk house and drug it out. Let it drag on the ground! You know? He dragged it out by the tailshaft and dropped it on the ground and says, 'There it is.' I checked the part number on it and it was correct. I said, 'What have you got to have for it?' He says, 'A hundred and a quarter.' I gave him a hundred and a quarter and I went right to Indiana, traded the guy [with 'my' tranny], and gave him a hundred and a half to boot, 'cause his was rebuilt and mine wasn't."
Plan A was to restore the car, but Dennis still had a '36 Buick coupe in the garage that he bought for the prom in '67. He decided he was not going to get things done, so why should the Road Runner sit and go to waste? He also had a house to build. So, he sold the car to his work buddy, Vince Russo. Russo did some further digging and found out that his metallic Lime Green Hemi Road Runner was on a used car lot in 1973. He contacted the former owner's son who remembered sneaking the car off the lot to drag race on country roads. He bragged about "blowing the doors off" a Yenko Camaro and winning $35. The Hemi had "cut-off" exhausts and snow tires. Originally, it came from a Chevy dealer in Chicago.
In the gas crunch of 1973, the used car dealer had a rough time selling the Hemi. The new buyer ended up selling the engine and transmission for $1,200. Apparently, the car went into storage, taking up residence in a coal bin, "probably about 1975," Russo believes. In 1989, Haldeman stored the Hemi in his pole barn in Randolph, Wisconsin.
Due to the diligence of two good ol' boys at work-actually three, counting the one Haldeman bought the car from-this Hemi is well on its way to becoming whole again. At the '02 Mopar Nats, Vince Russo and his restoration crew presented the Hemi to Larry Shepherd. They feel there is no better Hemi engine builder anywhere.
If you have any information on this or other unusual Mopars, please forward your leads to Jerry Heasley at Mopar2549@aol.com, or write Mopar Muscle, c/o Rare Finds, 3816 Industry Blvd., Lakeland, Florida 33811. Every letter is read with great interest, and remember, there's nothing more thrilling than The Hunt.