One day, Chris Picco, who has a web site (www.cudaworld.com), was driving home from a car show with his AAR 'Cuda. Chris was mixing the gears when misfortune strikes. But in this case, it may have been a lucky misfortune.
According to Chris, "As I shifted into fourth, the Hurst shifter fell through the floorboard of my AAR, and it landed on the crossmember. I had to push the clutch in and pull over to the side of the highway." How is this lucky, you ask? Chris continues, "I'm in the middle of nowhere, and my buddy Sam and I are looking at each other thinking, how are we going to get home now?"
The breakdown was in the summer of 2003 in Canada. Chris says, "Then this guy starts walking down the side of the highway and helps us push the car into his driveway. he starts ripping bolts off this little lawn tractor and his Jeep Cherokee to get us going. My buddy Sam is underneath the car trying to "borrow" a couple bolts off my car, like a fender bolt, a hood-hinge bolt, and one of the trunk bolts to see what would fit into the shifter mechanism to get us home.
"The guy mentions he has a car like this, and I heard Sam drop the wrench. I thought to myself, What? You have a car like this 'Cuda? I'm thinking this is unreal. I have a 'Cuda. What's the chance of it breaking down in front of a guy's house that also has a 'Cuda? Then I see the garage doors are open, but there's no car in the garage. so where is this car? he told us it was in an old metal shed at the back of his property." Chris asked if they could see it. "Sure," the man said. The man went into the house to retrieve the keys to the shed, but he couldn't find them.
Chris returned a few days later with a case of beer for thanks, and the man told him that he had found the keys. Chris recalls, "There was so much junk everywhere that you couldn't move. There was a little pathway to another room inside the shed. He opened the door and there she was.
The sight of an orange '71 'Cuda 440 Six Barrel covered with junk was unbelievable. Of course, the car wasn't for sale. The man explained the 'Cuda was his retirement. Then one day, Chris got a call. The owner was ready to sell.
The original carbs were sitting in the trunk, with the intake and the driveshaft. The original radiator was in another room. The one major part missing was the numbers-matching transmission. In the early '70s, a previous owner had replaced the four-speed with a 727 so his wife could drive it.
Chris found three-fourths of a broadcast sheet. "I actually unscrewed the glove box, reached up, peeled off the tape, and pulled it out. Unfortunately, mice had eaten the top quarter. He had another broadcast sheet he had kept out of the car."
Chris was smitten with the H6T7 two-tone tan interior. It's a billboard car, has rear window louvers, vinyl roof, and it's a non-shaker car, so it has the Rallye hood. It's also got Rallye gauges, AM/FM radio, and a tray bolted under the dash for a reel-to-reel recorder.
Chris cleaned it up, and it looks good. For the record, Chris brought in his friend Rick Simpson of Cobourg, Ontario, who bought the car.
Chris has researched production of about 218 domestic Six Barrel '71 'Cuda hardtops. It's a rare Mopar muscle Plymouth. Next time your Mopar Muscle breaks down, look around. It may be steering you towards relatives.
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