Story continues below this advertisement
When you read the name “Hardt Beat” on the 1962 Sport Fury shown here, you think, isn’t that a bowtie commercial? Looking more closely you see that it’s actually a short version of “hard to beat.” And this is true in a lot of ways as we will see on the next few pages.
This story starts with three Austrian car fanatics from the city of Graz who got together under the name “RuWeSt Rods,” They called themselves a community of car tinkers. The name combines the first two letters of the members’ names: Rudolf Wagner, Werner Kreiner and Stefan Kreiner. Besides working on an old Volvo and Lancia, the car tinkers also had experience with American cars. They had previously restored a 1966 Dodge Charger to beautiful condition.
It was 2008 when the group decided to search for an early Mopar as their next project. The threesome agreed on the 1962 Plymouth Fury as their next restoration project. For Rudolf, Werner, and Stefan the car not only had beautiful lines, but it also represented a piece of muscle car history.
Although this era officially started in 1964 with the GTO, the Fury fit perfectly with the muscle car theme when it was equipped with the 413 cubic inch max wedge motor. In July of 1962, Tom Grove was the first to drive this “stock passenger car” in the quarter mile in under 12 seconds. The run had an official ET of 11.93 seconds and a top speed of 118.57 mph. This run marked the start of the era of the Max Wedge wins in the racing world.
As we all know original 1962 Plymouth 413 Max Wedge motors are not easy to find and therefore are extremely expensive. Another disadvantage of the original Max Wedge is that their historical value is so high that it carries an obligation to retain originality. Rare originals have to be kept just that, original. Luckily for the RuWeSt crew, those strict requirements matched with their passionate philosophy.
Of course, since the Max Wedge Sport Fury was the top model in the 1962 Plymouth line, it was the rarest of the rare for a 1962 model, finding one turned out to not be easy. In 2010 it finally happened.
To their utter surprise, the men found an ad on the internet from San Diego that promised a good base for a restoration, not a Max Wedge, but a clean 361” engine car. An ideal foundation to create the dream car was there. Everything happened fast: The pictures checked, phone calls made and the car purchased sight unseen – no risk no fun. A long procedure followed: transport, payment of duty and delivery to Graz (Austria). The team of RUWEST organised everything by itself. After all, they had already transported a Charger over the big pond.
The car really kept its promise. The threesome eagerly started to work on the car. They fully restored the car. It was completely deconstructed for a full “Rotisserie” restoration, sand blasted and then completely restored.At this point it became interesting: Restored, but how? Use the original 361 ci engine or upgrade to the 440” with Max Wedge Heads? A very restoration route because it is relatively affordable and parts are readily available.
A 413 ci block, stroked to 500 inches, was on the short-list. The standard 413 engine which was installed in the big limousines of Chrysler and Imperial were aimed were at comfortable performance. The Max Wedge on the other hand was an ambitious sports engine which Plymouth sold under the name “Super Stock 413.” Among its goodies it had forged high compression pistons, exhaust manifold with a better flow, heads with bigger ports and valves, modified camshaft, and two 4-Barrel carburettors on the characteristic crossram intake manifold. Getting a 413” Big Block from a 1962 Imperial, Chrysler 300 or New Yorker with the casting number 1852029 should not be too hard. At least that is what the threesome thought.
Hundred of emails and many phone calls later the illusion came apart. Many short “No’s” in answer to enquiries were not pleasing. And the junkyard employee who laughed at the threesome almost destroyed the last hope. All the more unreal than seemed the email of Bob Mazzolini which found its way into the RUWEST mailbox a few weeks later.