We've said it before: one of the most neglected areas during a car restoration is often the engine and engine bay of the vehicle. There are countless Mopars that would be show winners, and featured here in the pages of Mopar Muscle, if only the engine and engine bay were properly restored. By properly restored, we mean clean, painted, presentable, and matching the theme of the car. If the car is a stock restoration, the engine should be painted like it was from the factory. If the car is modified, modifications to the engine and engine bay are certainly acceptable as well. This month we'll show you how to restore your engine's appearance to factory specs, and also show you some tips to make the engine bay look better than it was when the car was new.

When our Mopars were built, they were constructed by regular people working shifts on an assembly line in one of the many Chrysler factories. The automotive industry was in a growth period during the late '60s, so all of the factories were hiring new employees on a regular basis. Like most auto manufacturers, Chrysler would put new employees in entry-level positions, and they would work their way toward more challenging jobs and better pay. For painters, entry level meant painting the engine bay of the vehicle, and perhaps the inside of the trunk and inner body. For this reason, the engine bays of the majority of Mopars we've seen have at least one flaw, and often many, right from the factory.

The same goes for the engine of your Mopar. After being built at the Mound Road Engine Plant (or Chrysler's Marine & Industrial engine plant in the case of 426 Hemis), it was painted the appropriate color with a spray gun just like the car, and the guy painting it may have never painted anything before in his life. He quite likely just got the job at the engine plant and was doing his time painting engines and waiting to be promoted. Knowing this explains the vast discrepancies we've seen in the way factory engines were painted. In some cases, nearly the entire negative battery cable was the color of the engine; in others, just the end of the cable. Some engines got soaked in paint, causing runs, and others just got a light coat, leaving bare cast iron exposed. It simply depended on the painter's attention to detail, or lack thereof.

So, if you want to restore the engine and engine bay of your Mopar back to the way it was from the factory, you need to decide whether to document all of the defects and reproduce them, or to do it better than the factory did. For uniquely-optioned Mopars, or cars attempting to achieve OE Gold status, reproducing the engine and engine bay the way it came from the factory is generally considered the appropriate method of restoration, but for most of our mass-produced Mopars, spending a little extra time using modern products and restoration techniques can have your engine and engine bay looking far better than when it rolled off Chrysler's assembly line.

When we build the engine for our Mopar, most of us take advantage of modern lightweight components inside, and modern gasket and seal technology to keep the engine dry and leak-free. Technology has come a long way in the past four decades, and it's generally accepted that even a stock restoration isn't necessarily required to remain stock internally. And although a little bigger cam, lighter forged pistons, and roller rocker arms can't be seen without some disassembly, items like gaskets can, so if you want a factory look, the visible gaskets should be of the appropriate material, like cork for the valve covers and oil pan. If you're not keeping your car completely factory, however, we suggest that you take advantage of modern rubber and coated gasket technology, as the performance will be much better.