Salvaging rare original Chrysler quarters for this museum quality resto.
The word “restore” has a lot of different meanings for different people. In the context of restoring classic muscle cars, restore can range from something as simple as basic rust repair and new paint up to what used to be known as a “frame off” restoration.
But there is another level to restoration beyond “returning to like new in appearance and function”. By this definition, collision repair could be considered a form of restoration. Back when these cars were all over the roadways, collision repair was the norm and it served the purpose in quickly getting the cars back on the road. Remember that back when they were new, what we consider classic muscle cars were more than likely just daily drivers or “grocery getters”. Relatively few had any real “muscle” and none of them had any historical significance.
All that of course has changed. While performance versions are more desirable than base models they are all highly collectible today and have been for some time. So much so that it’s becoming very difficult to find an original car that has not already been “restored” at least once and sometimes more.
Muscle Car Restorations sees this quite often. An owner brings in a car that they want restored and a significant part of MCR’s work on the car involves undoing a lot of the previous restoration work in order to make the car factory correct again. The previous work isn’t always “bad” and may be perfectly functional it’s just that it’s not “right”.
That was the case with this particular ’71 Hemi Cuda 4-speed. With only 59 of these produced, it certainly falls into the historically significant class which makes having it restored “right” all the much more important. However it came to MCR as a basket case. The previous shop got it taken down to a bare shell with the quarters and most of the back half removed. It came with a number of supposedly original used factory parts but MCR found that some could not have come from this car and were not useable.
Parts that did get MCR’s attention though were both of the quarters. They had Chrysler part numbers stamped on the inside which would seem to indicate that they were original Chrysler repair panels from back in the day. Problem was that they had already been installed on a car (probably not this one) at some point and the work was in the classic collision repair style, i.e. bad plug welds etc. Whoever removed them from whatever car left the edges in pretty bad shape but otherwise they were in excellent condition.
The current owner desired a museum quality restoration and these original Chrysler panels fit that need but they were unusable as they were with all the attachment points suffering from distorted edges, burn throughs and otherwise being mangled out of shape.
While it would be possible to rebuild all of those edges from scratch, MCR concluded that a more correct solution would be to use AMD panels as donors for the needed areas. They normally would have just installed full AMD quarters as they have found them to extremely correct when it comes to overall fit but given that “correct” Chrysler panels were available, it was decided to use AMD parts to repair the originals. This would make them indistinguishable from original parts and satisfy the museum quality requirement.
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