Begins to Take Shape
Starting out on a car like Project Fighting Fish the owner/builder has a pretty good idea of where he wants to go. Then other Mopar enthusiasts’ ideas and manufacturer opportunities open your eyes to other possibilities and alternatives. So when Zak Hawthorne dug into his '65 Cuda, the wheels in his head started turning and original ideas for paint schemes, transmissions and suspension options made for some great choices, some of which might not be appropriate for high-dollar bidding at a winter Barrett-Jackson Auction.
When the vintage 1974 360 cubic inch engine came out of the frame rails, the block headed down to CARCO Engine and Machine to began the transformation into a stroker 410 cubic-inch screamer. After buying Edelbrock aluminum heads, an Eagle rotating assembly and SRP pistons the performance and horsepower issues were well thought out.
It was time to dismantle and remove parts to get ready. Out came the dashboard, dash pad and steering column - some of which would be used again. The heater, air conditioner, condenser assembly and vents came out, saving quite a bit of weight, and were destined for sale on eBay.
With the engine gone, the big red firewall was right there to see when the shop doors opened, so one recent weekend it was time to dig deeper into the real purpose of the project: making a stout vintage road racer and street machine. The holes left by the departure of all those parts left some gaping views of the interior from the engine compartment, so the patching began. Fabricating sheet metal patches to weld into the factory holes became the next task and the firewall will be ground and sanded smooth before getting some paint.