The DripI had opened the hood on this 'Cuda hundreds of times and never noticed it, but this eagle-eyed fellow Mopar-fanatic saw a large paint drip located on the driver's side of the upper firewall. Once he brought it to my attention, I remember saying, "Yea, those factory workers got a little sloppy sometimes." But Jim was not disappointed with this factory flaw.

After the deal was made, and the classic E-body was sent by enclosed trailer to Canada, Jim stripped the 'Cuda down and fully documented all the particular details, taking hundreds of photos and making numerous notes and drawings along the way. His e-mails to me were titled "Save the Fish" and that became the theme of this spectacular restoration.

"Over the top" describes how Jim went about the restoration of this Plymouth ponycar. After he had disassembled it and made the commitment to go the distance with a full re-do of the vehicle, he researched the professional restoration community and chose Roger Gibson Restorations in Scott City, Missouri, to tackle the rest of the project. Roger has a long and colorful history of restoring some of the world's rarest Mopars. The work done at his facility is excellent in terms of total accuracy, without the over-restoration that often happens with these types of car. With Roger and his crew working tirelessly to bring this 'Cuda back to the very condition it was the day it rolled down the assembly line, and with Jim chasing down rare date-coded NOS (New Old Stock) parts needed, the classic musclecar received nearly three full years of attention. A great deal of hard work went into the project with the end result a truly fantastic muscle-machine artifact.

What it took to win OE Gold at the 2003 Mopar Nationals was diligent attention to details, documented factory paint dabs and markings, correct underside paint application, re-produced sound deadener over-spray, and color-correct Cosmoline treatment on front suspension components. Also, things like original E60-15 Goodyear tires (not reproduction), and textured Argent paint (with factory uniformity), plus the previously mentioned date-coded parts, are just some of what it takes to re-create a factory-fresh Plymouth.

According to Roger, "The 'Cuda is painted with Sikkens single-stage acrylic urethane, Autocryl, with two coats of Autoclear III topping it off. I over-reduce the paint with atomizer, and spray the car like we used to spray lacquer or enamel with several thin coats, instead of two or three thick coats like recommended. This is done to match the orange peel that the old acrylic enamel had, especially under the hood and in the door jams. I try to lay the paint on the car as close to the finish and texture that we want, so the car does not have to be sanded and buffed hard. The proper gravity feed guns are very important with the new generation of urethane paints, as they are so thick the old siphon-type guns do not lay the paint down properly. The paint was matched to the old color starting from the crossover color recommended by Sikkens. Paint match is very important in restoration work, whether it is on the body, motor or rear axle housing. The primer used was Sikkens Colorbuild. This primer was tinted to match the old red and gray colors. Red was used on the body panels, and the dark gray was used on the floor pan to match the dipping process."