A final note on Care and Preservation: Real Race Cars
When someone digs up an old race Mopar, it can be in any condition. On rare occasions, they may be like Carroll Fink’s old machines, which Carroll parked back in the day and never touched again once he quit racing. Or Kenny Montgomery’s 1968 Hurst Barracuda, which Ken ran in Super Stock, Pro Stock and A/Modified Production before putting it away
in the same condition basic condition it was in on the last pass it made, a true survivor of that era. However, as I mentioned, this is pretty rare.
In the worst cases, the only thing really left is rumor and memory. Multiple upgrades to keep up with safety and technology have rendered most of the car ‘replaced.’ Only the barest fingerprints remain, and restoration is really replication; many serious collectors will look at this and walk away. From there are cars that actually crashed or were stripped to almost nothing, like upgraded NASCAR machines, meaning what is left and identifiable will need to be seriously supplanted with the correct stuff (yeah, we call it rebody-ing). The next stage is cars that have been upgraded into a more modern condition, though not so removed from their days of fame that the problems cannot be reversed
(or even left intact if need be). Minitubs, springs-into-frame-rail movement, and bolt-on fiberglass body panel replacement are the big ones in this form. The next step, below survivor racing machines like Fink’s and Montogomery’s, would be paint, wheel and engine changes, very typical of any race car not in the hands of the original campaigner and items that are fairly easy to replace.
In most cases, most of us are not in the financial condition to search and properly restore these cars. Aluminum Hemi car parts, rare Pro Stock equipment, and correct body ‘restoration’ can get very expensive, particularly in cars that were acid-dipped or radically altered after the fact. Even paint on these cars can reach literally into the tens of thousands of dollars to do correctly. Start trying to find things like the proper numbers-correct carburetors (or NOS Dominators), and money will not be as important as luck in the search. A race car is only ‘right’ one way; just as in a street car restoration, change a few things here and there and pretty soon it will start appearing not so right…
Moreover, in my opinion, most of us would be better off leaving the high dollar stuff to the high dollar guys. There is a certain very famous Pro Stock Barracuda that is literally rotting away because the enthusiast who owns it cannot afford the restoration and also will not sell the car without very restrictive stipulations. Sure, we all dream of having something real and unique, but to let a car fall apart and disappear because we can’t fix it is wrong. This is just like the proverbial little old man with the Hemi Daytona rusting away in his backyard because ‘I’m gonna fix ‘er up one day.’ Here in east Tennessee, this is not as uncommon as you think, and if you poke around more than you should, bullets may come flying your way!