There's a fine line that separates the look of a fully rebuilt Mopar from a car that is just fixed up. Be it a purist's authentic resto or a tastefully and functionally modified car, you can always spot the machine that received the whole nine yards. Everywhere you look, it's quality, clean, and like new or better. To perform the total rebuild, you must go into each component and work the details before moving to the next. You'll find yourself working on components of the car that most guys take for granted. How many late-model Camaro or 5.0 Mustang guys will blueprint the pedals, rework the window mechanism, or, as we do this month, fully rebuild a steering column? Not many, we guess.
The details truly make the difference. Take the oft-neglected steering column. Slip behind the wheel of a nice looking Mopar, and the little things can detract and annoy. These cars are 30-plus years old and show it: The steering wheel begins to growl when turned, the signals won't self-cancel or work at all, and the ignition key has to be wiggled to get the engine to fire. Suddenly, that pretty Mopar acts like a tired old car. By the same token, if the wheel turns as smooth as silk, the controls snap positively like they were made yesterday, and the finish quality looks better than it did leaving Hamtramck, the sense of quality prevails. We had all types of woes brewing in the column of our '71 Challenger R/T: faulty electronics, a junkyard-quality finish, and dried, dirt-encrusted bearings made it anything but a smooth operator. A full cosmetic and functional rebuild set us back a couple of days, but it put us way ahead of the game when it came to a quality resto effort.