From the beginning, I knew a Hemi was going under my hood, but when I saw him grabbing those vintage racing parts for it, I could hardly contain myself. He had a 426 block filled with a steel crankshaft, heavy-duty rods, and pistons that would create a 12.5:1compression ratio. He wouldn't tell me what the cam specs were because he said I couldn't keep quiet. Hey, he's the one who had the custom headers made with 211/44-inch tubes and 311/42-inch collectors-you bet I couldn't keep quiet. Anyway, dang it where was I? Oh yeah, on top of that engine was an old NASCAR-style "Bathtub intake" with a Holley carburetor. I always thought that carb felt weird, but I didn't know why. From there, Mr. Hughes added one of them four-speed transmissions. For a rearend-I'm not sure why he did this-he installed a 9-inch Ford rear. He said something about that's the way the NASCAR guys did it, so I didn't put up much of an argument. Anyway, the rear was built by some guy named Currie, and has a floater/torque lock rearend-whatever that means-and 3.70:1 gears.

it was 1985, and I was completed just in time to go to the Mopar Nationals. Let's see, I was traveling all that way with my tach right around 3,200 rpm, and we were doing about 60 mph. I'm sure Mr. and Mrs. Hughes thought it was a long ride, but I didn't care, I was finally on the road again.

The Hughes moved on to other projects in the early '90s, and I changed hands a couple of times. Eventually, I ended up sitting in the Wilson Museum in Chicago, Illinois. While I was there, visitors were told I was an authentic NASCAR race car. I guess Mr. Hughes did a pretty good job of gussyin' me up. I must have dozed off for a while, because the next thing I knew it was 2003, and I was in Florida again. The Florida guy didn't keep me very long, and the next thing I knew I was for sale again. my current owner-Frank Mallory from Yacuipa, California,-saw my ad.

Frank has been a Mopar man since he first started driving in 1974. But he had never driven, much less owned, a Hemi. The pictures he saw of me were, well, uninspirational. The seller had merely backed me out of his garage and snapped a few quick photos in the shade. The kicker was, when Frank asked specifics such as, "What is the compression ratio?" the owner would say, "I don't know, but it's got good oil pressure. It came out of a museum. it's an authentic vintage race car." When I heard him say that, I just kind of chuckled.

I guess that new-fangled thing called the Internet must be wonderful since Frank spends so much time on a web site called Moparts.com. I'm not sure what that's about, but he asked if any of the guys there knew me. Sure enough, several members had seen me over the years, and they even provided contact info for Marvin and Joan Hughes. Frank swung the deal and became a Hemi owner after 29 years of driving other Mopars.

Since I had been through several nonchalant owners, I needed a little TLC when I got to Frank's. I felt fine, but Frank insisted on the freshening. Who was I to argue? My Hemi ran good, but Frank said, "It lacked chrome." The carburetor was vintage all right. It was a '65 Holley 715-a Ford application. Now I know why it felt wrong. Not only was it too small, it was from a Ford. Since the floorboards were only painted metal and not carpeted, they showed 18 years of scratches and scuffs. I'll always remember the look on Frank's face when he looked underneath at my rearend and realized that somewhere along the way, 3-inch lowering blocks had found their way onto my leaf springs. This made it impossible to remove the rear wheels without disassembling the suspension! He said it bothered him! Imagine how I felt. The paint that Marvin applied in 1985 was showing its age,so Frank got busy.