Author Topic: 71 Cuda Conv Restoration  (Read 17083 times)

Offline mcemond

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71 Cuda Conv Restoration
« on: August 27, 2013 - 12:31:29 pm »
Hi
There's been several bumps in the road getting to this point but I'd rather just put all that behind me. My truck restoration is completed to my satisfaction so I can now turn my attention to the cuda.

The car is a yellow and black billboard 71 convertible 340 bought from another member here. It needs a ton of work (which I knew getting into it). There is probably not a single large piece below the style line that will not need some type of work. It does not have the original drivetrain and the 340 block that came with it turned out to be no good. With all this in mind, I plan to keep much of the car factory original. Same colors, same hood, keep it a column shift auto, put another 340 in it (once I find a good one), keep the suspension original, keep the rear the same, etc. However I do plan on making some modifications. Primarily, I'm going to stiffen the body, not to race specifications but enough that it won't flex under normal driving conditions. I'm probably going to modify the 340 by boring it and possibly stroking it. Maybe some modern heads, different cams, etc. We'll have to see when we get to that stage but again, trying to make it 'look' closer to original than not. I have a friend that will blueprint the build for me but the engine will be the last stage of the build. I have looked at fuel injection and will probably stick with a carb because I like the sound (and have never had much issue with my other carb'd vehicles) but I'm not opposed to these types of advancements in engine performance/ reliability. My goal isn't to make a street racer though, just something that retains its original style with tweaks here and there to make it better (in my opinion) or just a tiny bit 'meaner' without compromising the original intent. I'm going to put modern disc brakes on the front, it came with all drums. I will likely put an extra spring in the back and a little more aggressive tire size on the rears. Nothing crazy but enough to change its stance.

At this point I am stripping it down so that I can put it on a rotisserie and send it out for blasting... then see how much of it comes back. There is some significant rot at the base of the a-pillars as well as at the connecting sections of the front floor cross member. I currently have shims under the frame to negate the sag it is already experiencing. I have new door hinges on order and once the doors are back in and lined up with the body shimmed to straight I was going to weld in a temporary brace (two square tube bars along each side tacked at the a-pillar, b-pillar and top wheel housing. Then bolt in X braces between them as well as a vertical X brace between the b-pillars.)

I have a few questions starting out...

  • I don't want it twisting on a rotisserie. Its probably over-engineered but wanted to see if anyone thought my bracing plan wasn't enough. Or if there is an already established, preferred method for bracing these convertibles?
  • I'm going to be scanning the site and web for a used rotisserie but if someone close to southern nh had one they wanted to sell I thought I'd put out a feeler here.

A couple things on my mind following media blasting...

  • Does anyone produce a high quality full front floor pan with the cross brace already attached?
  • Is AMD superior to other manufacturers in terms of fit? Are there general concerns with fitting sheet metal from a variety of manufacturers or does one generally stick with one company to minimize fitment issues?
  • I've been looking at frame stiffening kits. XV motorsports has some pretty nice looking components but they seem to always be out of stock, at least of the sub frame rails. Are there others out there that have really worked well for people?
  • I'm going to need a fully detailed factory manual but didn't want to pay the $80+ on ebay. Anyone know a cheap source for these books new or used? I don't use the cd versions.

That's it for now. Trying to not get too far ahead of myself and where the car is at.
Thanks
Mike
Southern NH

I take a lot of photos for personal reference and post them on flickr. My truck resto pics ended up helping a lot of others restoring the same odd-ball truck that doesn't have a lot of documentation and it also documents the build. So I figured I'd start up another one for this cuda if you'd like to follow along...
http://www.flickr.com/photos/15695344@N00/sets/72157635254103467/




Offline CudamanTom

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Re: 71 Cuda Conv Restoration
« Reply #1 on: August 27, 2013 - 12:53:07 pm »
Hey Michael,

I'm in the same boat as you but my convert body is pretty much done except for the door and then minor repaint when all put together.
Mine sits totally stripped of parts just like yours so we both might learn from each other.

I have a black 71 Cuda (convert clone). I have most the parts and just waiting on the weather to cool down before dropping the engine and tranny.

Look forward to seeing your progression.

Tom
1971 Cuda Vert 440-833 - (clone)
1971 Cuda 440-727 - (clone)


Because I like it fast!!!

Offline anlauto

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Re: 71 Cuda Conv Restoration
« Reply #2 on: August 27, 2013 - 01:22:01 pm »
Wish I had a chance to buy that convertible when it was for sale.. :banghead:

Good to see it's going to get a quality restoration. Personally I'd stay away from altering the frame, but that's just me. :2thumbs:
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Offline johns cuda shop

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Re: 71 Cuda Conv Restoration
« Reply #3 on: August 27, 2013 - 01:36:32 pm »
US car Tool has the frame stiffening kit you need .http://store.uscartool.com/mopar-chassis-stiffening.html   Several members here have done it..You will see a big difference in the way the car rides and handles once installed. Its crazy to think the cars left the factory without it.
71 Cuda Gen III Aluminum 426 Hemi T56 6 speed 4.10 8.75 Modified & Lowered RMS coilover suspension Wilwood discs

Offline 'Cuda Hunter

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Re: 71 Cuda Conv Restoration
« Reply #4 on: August 27, 2013 - 11:07:23 pm »
Awesome car! 
Looks like the fender tag is full of options.
 :popcorn: :popcorn: :popcorn:

Your truck is really cool too.  What is it?
Where is the flicker for it?
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Offline daveh

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Re: 71 Cuda Conv Restoration
« Reply #5 on: August 28, 2013 - 09:06:39 am »
I'm in the same boat with my 71 Challenger convertible.  Although my body is in great shape.  Looking forward to seeing the progress.  Good Luck. 

Offline mcemond

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Re: 71 Cuda Conv Restoration
« Reply #6 on: August 28, 2013 - 09:26:15 am »
Thanks for the replies. I am pretty happy to finally be getting to it. I thought the truck was going to keep eating up all my shop time. The truck is a 1947 dodge Wfmx-35. Last year for that war era design. The intention for it was to use it for transporting the cuda whole or in pieces. The car will fit on the bed but I don't trust the brakes enough. It's being sent off this month to get a mid body diesel installed. Here's the Flickr build link
http://m.flickr.com/#/photos/15695344@N00/sets/72157624030628195/

As for the cuda I would have preferred not to have to stiffen the frame but I just wasn't comfortable with the amount of sag I was seeing. In some of the pics you can see I've shimmed up under the car to bring it back to level. Thanks for the tip on which kit to buy. It looks awesome.

Hey Tom its always nice to have company when jumping into the deep end :). Ill look for you build thread here as well.

Mike

Offline crocha617

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Re: 71 Cuda Conv Restoration
« Reply #7 on: August 29, 2013 - 07:25:37 am »
Glad to see you'll be sharing the project with everyone. I was hoping to see this one get done. :popcorn:

Offline mcemond

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Re: 71 Cuda Conv Restoration
« Reply #8 on: September 03, 2013 - 10:38:14 am »
Definitely. Hope you found another project to fill your empty garage space rocha. I didn't mind plunking down the cash for it but there was way too much tied up in it to let it sit in the corner of my barn for too long. Plus my wife was getting on my case (not because she wants it gone, but she wants to start using it! :burnout: )

Because I'm so anal about the body flexing at all while working on it I ended up purchasing the autotwirler pro rotisserie with the under body kit (and I'll still be welding in some temporary bars). It should arrive in a week or two.


Offline anlauto

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Re: 71 Cuda Conv Restoration
« Reply #9 on: September 03, 2013 - 10:45:24 am »
WoW...flexed so much it looks like a Corvette :22yikes:....
Just kidding...Nice product, but a little overkill in my opinion. :2cents:
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Offline crocha617

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Re: 71 Cuda Conv Restoration
« Reply #10 on: September 03, 2013 - 02:10:27 pm »
Yes I have had a couple of other projects. I finally picked up a running / driving 70 barracuda convertible the other night. It definitely needs work but I'm going to try and keep it running while I work on it. That is quite the rotisserie setup for sure I've never seen one of those.

Offline miamivice

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Re: 71 Cuda Conv Restoration
« Reply #11 on: September 03, 2013 - 02:13:03 pm »
Nice project!   We are in the same boat on 71 barracuda vert projects...look forward to seeing your progress :thumbsup:

Offline ragtopdodge

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Re: 71 Cuda Conv Restoration
« Reply #12 on: September 03, 2013 - 03:34:43 pm »
Cross-brace the heck out of it with some good angle iron before you put it on the rotisserie.



'70 318-auto Chally 'vert
'71 383-auto 'Cuda 'vert (sold)
06 300c SRT8
04 2500 QCLB 4x4 HO

Offline ragtopdodge

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Re: 71 Cuda Conv Restoration
« Reply #13 on: September 03, 2013 - 03:44:06 pm »
Since it's a real 'Cuda, and you're not putting down a whole ton of horsepower and/or going to autocross it, I wouldn't put any permanent frame stiffeners on it.

Before I tore it apart, my 318 challenger was a little shaky over bumps like railroad tracks, etc, but other than that, it was very tolerable.

If you absolutely HAD to put something on b/c you can't stand it. then I'd probably get the Hotchkiss frame stiffeners as it seems the easiest to cutoff and touch up the paint if you go to sell it.


For AMD panels, that's the best you're going to get short of NOS.  For a dual exhaust rear valance, find an OEM one or NOS one.  Don't get a repop of those.   Be sure to fit up that OEM valance before you permanetly weld up the quarters.



My $0.02, I think it would not hurt value at all to convert that column shift to floor shift. 
« Last Edit: September 03, 2013 - 03:48:03 pm by ragtopdodge »
'70 318-auto Chally 'vert
'71 383-auto 'Cuda 'vert (sold)
06 300c SRT8
04 2500 QCLB 4x4 HO

Offline mcemond

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Re: 71 Cuda Conv Restoration
« Reply #14 on: September 04, 2013 - 11:08:20 am »
Thanks for the replies. Seems like there's several vert projects going on currently. That's good. Love the pics on the cross bracing. I was planning on doing something similar in addition to the rotisserie but now I have a guide. Thanks. (I said I was anal about it  :) ) That's why when I saw that auto twirler monster I just had to pull the trigger. It should be on a truck now and on its way to me :)

Sooo, frame stiffeners. I do hear you about the frame alterations and how that does permanently alter the car from original. Currently the car sags quite a bit but maybe I'm looking at this problem the wrong way. I do go through mixed emotions about stuff like this. So, I'll ignore the anal part of me mentioned above and save that for once the car is done. If the flex is still causing gaps to close or doors to not shut properly once done, I'll stiffen the frame. But first I'll see if replacing all the bad sheet metal with the AMD panels fixes the problem on its own. I've also heard that rubber undercoating (which it had originally, don't know if they all did) will also help reduce flex. 

I'm also curious now, altering from column to floor auto wouldn't decrease the value? I really like floor shifters but was shy about making a readily visible change like that.

Thanks!
Mike