To make room for the Hemi,...
To make room for the Hemi, you gotta pull the little stuff.
A few years ago at the Barrett-Jackson Auction, a '65 Dodge A-990 clone drove up on the auction block, and people took notice. One of those people was former football star and professional wrestler, Bill Goldberg. As good as the car looked, there were two things wrong with it in Goldberg's eye. One, it was red. And two, when the hammer dropped, it was expensive. Mr. Goldberg (yeah, he's big enough, we'll call him Mister) has always liked and wanted a '65 Super Stock car, so when he found a low mileage, one-owner Coronet on Craigslist.com he jumped on it. Sure, it's not an A-990 car . . . yet, but that's where having connections and the ability to build the car of your dreams comes in handy.
Although Goldberg does not profess to be an expert automotive restoration hand, he decided it was time to get more intimately involved with the restoration process of this car, and the relative simplicity of this project would make that easier.
Mechanic Ralph Straesser was...
Mechanic Ralph Straesser was a big help during teardown, and his roll is just beginning. With the exception of the windshield, all of the glass was in excellent shape and will be reinstalled.
As with any project, a plan must be laid out in advance. What is the end result going to look like, and what will it take to get there? Goldberg's car had to have the look and performance of a '65 Super Stock Dodge, but he must be able to drive it on the street. The look includes the Super Stock hoodscoop, single headlight grille, and a killer nose-high stance accented by five-spoke "Mag" wheels. The interior should conform to '65 standards with a pair of Dodge van bucket seats trimmed in the original-style light tan vinyl and no back seat. Under the hood will be-of course-a Hemi.
The Coronet that Goldberg found was equipped with a TorqueFlite from the factory, and he seriously considered changing to a manual shift. But after some thought, he decided to reduce the complexity of changing to a manual transmission and stick with the automatic. Another choice Mopar owners have to make is between an 8-3/4 or Dana rearend. The original A-990 cars came with an 8-3/4 rearend, but the Dana rearends are bulletproof. The 8-3/4 offers a drop-out center section and parts are available to beef them up, but Danas are bulletproof!
With the fuel tank removed,...
With the fuel tank removed, the extent of the trunk pan rust could be determined. Here Goldberg measures the largest of the holes with his finger.
No matter what kind of car you are building, it's always good to get advice from experts. One of Goldberg's first visits was to the shop of Joe McCaron. It was a McCaron-built '65 Dodge Coronet that sold for top dollar at Barrett-Jackson and graced the pages of Mopar Muscle a few years ago. McCaron has built three '65 A-990 clones and has done work on many others. The second stop was at Bob Mosher's shop. Mosher has built dozens of these cars and has restored originals. Both of these experts answered questions and helped Goldberg see what he was getting himself into.
One of the first things that Goldberg realized was that to do this kind of build meant a full frame-off restoration (as we all know, frame-off is a relative term when talking about a unitized body vehicle). There would be no shortcuts-the entire car would have to be disassembled right down to the bare body in white.
Taking a car apart can be fun if there's not too much grease or rust, and Goldberg's car is amazingly rust-free. Care had to be taken with the few emblems that would be put back on the car, but the original side moldings would be removed and the holes filled. With the help of his mechanic, Ralph Straesser, and a couple friends, the car was disassembled down to a bare rolling body in a mere five days. Everything was bagged and tagged for future use. The original bench seats were put on eBay and sold quickly. The sweet running original 273 engine and transmission quickly found a home with a member of the local Mopar club. with no seats, and no engine or transmission, there was no turning back.