We got our idea from looking at this rig-go to a show, buy a heap and a bunch of parts, an
"We need a Mopar project car." Those words have been tossed around our offices quite a bit lately. And why not? We've been working to shed the Camaro Craft image with Buick engine builds, our '64 Oldsmobile and '67 Mustang project cars, and the CC/Rambler. We'd pretty much have all the bases covered if we had something with a Pentastar on it to thrash on.
With that in mind, we're always on the prowl for a suitable Mopar project car. The problem is, so is everyone else. And when demand exceeds supply, prices go through the roof. Fueled in part by televised musclecar auctions and wealthy, retiring baby boomers looking for ways to spend their children's inheritance, the demand for musclecars in general has never been greater, and the cars most people seem to want wear Plymouth badges.
OK, we couldn't find a shell despite covering every inch of the car corral. The closest th
Hemi 'Cudas are sweet cars, don't get us wrong, but the feeding frenzy they have spawned at auction makes most E-Bodies untouchable to the average dude. Combine that with renewed interest in Chargers, thanks to the dopey Dukes of Hazzard movie remake, and you'll practically need a home equity line of credit to get your hands on Mopar muscle.
Nonetheless, a car show can make you dizzy with desire to spend money you don't have on something you've just gotta get. Eyeing up the rows of gleaming Challengers, Chargers, Road Runners, 'Cudas, Valiants, and Darts in the show car section at the Mopars at the Strip show had us drooling for a new set of wheels. And there were several guys looking to make a deal out in the car corral and swap meet area, which got us thinking: Is it possible to buy a car and all the parts to put it together in the span of three days at a single car show? Well, we set out to do just that. In theory, at least.
Anyone Got A Roller?
Everyone will tell you to start with the best foundation possible. Unfortunately, we were on a tight budget, so even the cars with a little paint left on them cost more than we were willing to spend. Besides, this being Car Craft, we don't mind getting dirty building the car from the ground up. If it has a drivetrain in it, that's just an added bonus-who cares if it runs or not? So we went looking for a shell.
We carefully eyed up our prospective purchase to see what we'd need to make it live again.
We didn't see any good used quarters at the swap meet, but both Goodmark and Year One were in the vendor area selling new reproduction pieces for about $250 each. New front and rear bumpers would total $520. We also spotted lots of brake system and exhaust parts in the swap meet area. So all that was left was to put the car together and paint it. If you've been keeping track, the running total for the car and parts we illustrated is roughly $25,000*. It's a safe bet to factor in an additional $10,000 for wheels, tires, and miscellaneous odds and ends, giving you a complete, rust-free, and running Barracuda for about $35,000-a lot less than what you'd pay for one at an auction. Add about $10,000 more for a paint job, and it's still a bargain compared to auction-house prices. That figure is less than the cost of many new cars, too-plus you can say you built it yourself.
So did we pull it off? Sort of. While we didn't actually buy a car or any parts, we did illustrate that it is possible to go to a show and build a car using what's available on the premises that weekend. And people told us that Mopars at the Strip was one of the medium-sized shows-that Spring Fling and the Mopar show at Carlisle are bigger and have more vendors for new and used parts, so building a car from scratch at one of those shows would be easy. Maybe we'll do it for real next time. End