Jeff Larsen's dream car is a stretch from reality, which is what dreams are made of. His illusion of musclecar grandeur was the king of musclecars-the Hemi 'Cuda convertible. Maybe his Plymouth won't be factory stock down to the VIN, but Larsen, who lives in Draper, Utah, admitted such a purchase was out of his budget. However, sitting in his garage is his most recent purchase, a '70 'Cuda convertible. It's another one of those classic "found in a barn" stories.
"I have a web page on the Internet, and I buy cars and parts. Part of that web page is a wanted section. I'm always looking for 'Cudas and Challengers-either parts cars or complete cars." Jeff continued, "I was sitting in my easy chair with my feet up, and a guy from southern Idaho called about '72 Duster parts. I didn't have what he wanted."
The guy with the Duster, however, had something Jeff wanted. Jeff recalls, "Just as I was about ready to hang up, he says, 'I see on your web page, you're looking for 'Cudas.' He said that a friend of his had one in his mother's garage." The car was a '70 convertible, which might be for sale. Jeff took down the man's name and number. The following week, he got to thinking he'd better follow up on that 'Cuda. Jeff went to get the paper he had written the phone number on, but by then his wife had cleaned up. The sticky note with the name and phone number was no place to be found. He hunted through the garbage can, but he couldn't find that guy's name or number.
One thing Jeff did recall was the car's location, Gooding, Idaho. That's about a five-hour drive for Jeff. the following Saturday he made the trip to Gooding, figuring he could find the car in the little town of 3,384 people. Usually, when Jeff hits a small town and is looking for "old cars," he'll go into a local parts store and ask the guy at the counter. But there were no parts stores in Gooding. Jeff did find a Kawasaki dealer at the far end of town, and out back were some Model A Fords and other "stuff."
Jeff says, "I went in and talked to [the guy behind the counter] and told him the story about the guy with the '72 Duster. I said I couldn't remember his name, but he lived in Gooding, and somebody he knew in Gooding had a 'Cuda convertible in his mother's garage." The motorcycle dealer drew a blank. The conversation continued, but all the while Jeff figured he had gone on another wild goose chase. Just as Jeff was ready to head back to Utah, the man said the only person who ever had "cars like that" was Bud Farmer. But Bud had moved to Alaska 10-12 years ago. Jeff's ears perked up though when he heard Bud's mother still lived at the homestead, and he really got interested when the friendly motorcycle dealer told him, "I just saw Bud driving down main street in an old Dodge truck with Alaska plates on it."
The dealer drove Jeff to a half-dozen places around town until they found Bud. Yes, he had a '70 'Cuda convertible, and it "might be" for sale. His main concern was avoiding "tire kickers." Jeff recalls, "Bud went out into this old shed and opened it up. All I could see was something underneath an old blue tarp. He had tires and stuff stacked all over the top of it." The two men finally unearthed the Plymouth. Jeff explained, "It's [got a] 383 with a four-barrel and an automatic tranny. It was originally purple with a black interior, elastomeric front bumper, rally dash, and dual exhaust with tips on them."
Even though the original engine was gone, the good news was the body was rust free. It was repainted white, and the interior was kind of screwed up. The body was banged up a little bit, but nothing really serious. The owner had previously rounded up a replacement door, a spare hood, an extra console, and "a ton of spare parts." Jeff's final opinion was this Rare Find was "solid as a rock." According to Jeff, "I looked at him and said, 'well, is this car for sale?'" The owner then told a story about a guy who came through Gooding five or so years ago, and when the owner set the price at ten grand, the guy backed off, saying he had to go home to check with his wife. The pair both laughed. Jeff repeated, "Is the car for sale?" Bud came back with, "You're not a tire kicker are you?" Jeff naturally rebutteled with, "No, I'm not a tire kicker."
As they were finishing up the paper work, the guy with the Duster showed up. To show his gratitude, Jeff offered the man a finder's fee, which turned out to be a '72 Duster parts car.
Jeff returned to Gooding the following week. he brought the Duster on his trailer and hauled his Rare Find home. The lack of an engine fits into his dream plan.
He says, "It just so happens I have a Hemi sitting on the stand in my garage that's all done, so that'll end up in the car."