Refined RideThe AAR 'Cuda and its Dodge counterpart, the T/A Challenger, were built mainly for homologation purposes, to make them legal to race in Trans Am competitions. a dealer's flyer dated late 1969 touted that Chrysler was going Trans Am racing, and the effort was spearheaded by Dan Gurney. Dan was only planning to build four or so cars, but you could either buy your very own Dan Gurney-prepped All American Racer 'Cuda race car for the then hefty sum of $18,000, or you could go to the nearest Chrysler dealer, plunk down $4,000, plus the cost of destination charges, state and local taxes, optional equipment, and equipment required by state law, and own a factory-built AAR.
Tom Myers, who now resides in Knoxville, Illinois, was one of the lucky 2,700 or so that took advantage of the AAR program. Tom was home on Christmas leave from the Army when he decided to take a drive in his '67 Mustang and peruse the local car dealerships. When he hit Gottenborg Chrysler/Plymouth in Galesburg, Illinois, he found his car. After a deal was struck, a grand total of 18 payments of $101.87 each would need to be made to the bank. Tom got to drive his new car for a week and then had to return to duty. Tom has fond memories of driving his girlfriend Deb to her senior prom in 1971 in the 'Cuda, and then driving the same Deb to their honeymoon location after their wedding in 1972.
Fast forward to November 2000, the kids are now raised, and Tom decides it's time to get the 'Cuda out of the garage. Yep, Tom kept the AAR in storage all those years. With the help of Rich Watters, the AAR became the recipient of a partial restoration. We say "partial" since Tom owned the car all its life, he knew how well it had been taken care of.
The engine was given to Wayne Palmer of Galesburg Machine where the cylinder walls were honed, new rings placed on the stock pistons, and new bearings and camshaft installed. The transmission was given to Dave Whittaker, also in Galesburg, for the required "freshening." For the next six months, Tom and Rich spent countless hours in the home garage disassembling the car and documenting everything. Luckily, Tom has an understanding wife because any spare room in the house was filled with restored parts waiting for reassembly. With the car disassembled, it was given to friend, Larry Lynch. Larry runs Carr Street Custom paint and body, and he spent the next 18 months working with Tom to make sure the restoration was correct for this car. Finally, in February 2003, the final coat of paint was applied. Since all of the parts had either been restored or replaced, the assembly could begin. Then in the late summer of 2003, it was finally finished.
A lot of the pieces used in the "restoration" are the very pieces that were on the car from the factory. Items like the rear tires, (albeit a little thin in the tread department), the exhaust system, belts and hoses, even most of the light bulbs are the factory-installed pieces.