Project Showcase: A Mopar Enthusiast Shares His Passion And Projects

Cliff “Buckshot” Cake may not be a very popular name, but you may remember when we featured his 1943 Ford Rat Gasser Truck here at Rod Authority. He is now working on some other projects and shared them with us, so we could share them with our readers. No one knows their cars better than their creators, and we’re going to let “Buckshot” tell the tale about his two newest creations while we step aside from the keyboard for a bit.

Many people in the world of muscle cars know what a hassle it is to build Mopars. Unlike Chevys and Fords, parts are scarce and expensive. Being retired, I have the time (even before the COVID panic) to work on projects, but being on a budget makes it even more difficult. Parts are located and deals are made, but at my age, (71) time is working against me. As is my second project; restoring a 1969 Charger with a 440 / 727 engine and transmission combo.

Aiming High With A Dart

Several years ago, a friend was moving out of state and couldn’t take their 1967 Dodge Dart which had been parked as yard art for 15 years due to a cracked block. I bought it sight-unseen and dragged it home to begin its transformation into the “street freak” I’ve wanted since I was a teenager. I remember watching the jacked up ’55 Chevys, Willys, Fords, and others shaking the store windows along the main drag as they rolled past. In 1966, I was 17, broke, and looking at ways to get the nose of my old ’51 Chevy hardtop pointed skyward like my Saturday night heroes. With part-time jobs after school came the realization that in addition to cars, there was this new thing called “girls” and my dreams of a street freak suffered greatly from that point on.

Buckshot’s Dart is well on its way to becoming the “Street Freak” he’s always wanted.

After evicting the mice and spiders, I gutted the car and found the entire car was rust free! I then rebuilt the torsion bar front end and converted it to disc brakes. I’m currently looking for a straight-axle to replace the OEM stuff. I sourced a Ford 8.75 rear end with disc brakes, installed a locker and 3.73 gears, and built four-foot ladder bars and sub-frame connectors. It’s mini-tubbed so 12″ meats fit inside the body.

The engine is a 1974 440 from a motorhome. I had the engine bored .030, balanced, decked, and the rods massaged by Dave’s Performance in Fresno, Ca. It went together with Keith Black 11.0-1 pistons, ARP fasteners, and a Comp Cams bumpstick. Two 600cfm Edelbrock carbs sit on a Weiand tunnel ram and do their best to feed the monster, while an aluminum radiator and electric water pump and fan keep it cool. The trans is a manual valve body 727 with a B&M shifter, but soon, a 5-speed manual will take its place, making it more freeway friendly.

Buckshot's Dart has all the makings of an old-school road warrior, including the dual-fours poking through the hood. A modern concession was the addition of air-conditioning and eventually, a 5-speed transmission.

Moving inside, I made a custom dash, replaced the cracked dash pad, and filled all the unnecessary holes for the radio, ash tray, etc. I removed and paneled the back seat and installed a roll bar along with new carpets, no-name racing seats, and my one concession to comfort, an A/C and heater unit. So far, it’s only been around the block since the wiring is basically just ignition and cooling, but it does MASSIVE burnouts and will be hitting the street soon, shaking store windows like its ancestors did back in my youth.

Buckshot built his own old-school ladder bars and has mini-tubbed the car to fit those tires without issue.

I’m painting it within the next couple of months and having a graphic-artist friend place the name and mascot on it. Its name is “Jail Bait”. The license plates are VC23109; California’s vehicle code for exhibition of speed. Some of the pictures I sent show the original plates, the new ones are black. The car will be silver with garnet red graphics to match the interior.

Fast-Charger

One day, a friend called me and asked if I knew anyone looking for a ’69 Charger. I told him it would be easier to name the ones who weren’t. He gave me a name and address of someone who had one for sale and I went to look at the car expecting a total rust bucket. What I found was a very tired, but very solid car with almost no rust. It had been sitting in a shed for 17 years!

I wasn’t really in the market, but the elderly gent whose wife had owned and loved the car had passed away, and he wanted to be sure that it got restored and not pieced out. A deal was made and it came home with me about six months after I acquired the Dart.

I had to replace a small section behind the driver-side rear wheel but the rest is very solid. I started with a front-end rebuild and disc brake conversion, and then attacked the rear suspension. I pulled out the tired 318 engine and 904 transmission and replaced them with a fresh 440 that was bored .060, balanced, and decked. It has Ross 10.5-1 pistons on stock rebuilt rods and a Crane .504-inch lift/312 duration cam. It’s fed by a 650cfm Edelbrock carb on a Torker high rise intake. After break in, I’ll change to either two-fours or an 850 cfm Holley. The trans is a stock 727 with a shift kit.

The interior is mostly original with just the front seat covers, carpets, and dash pad replaced. The rest of the interior is factory and the Charger is about done except for paint. I had the vinyl top replaced, (the only thing on the car I didn’t do myself) but not sure what color I’m going to paint it yet. Probably charcoal grey, or the factory green.

Stay safe and healthy! Rod it if ya got it and if ya don’t, get it!

Best regards,

Cliff “Buckshot” Cake

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About the author

Andy Bolig

Andy has been intrigued by mechanical things all of his life and enjoys tinkering with cars of all makes and ages. Finding value in style points, he can appreciate cars of all power and performance levels. Andy is an avid railfan and gets his “high” by flying radio-controlled model airplanes when time permits. He keeps his feet firmly grounded by working on his two street rods and his supercharged C4 Corvette. Whether planes, trains, motorcycles, or automobiles, Andy has immersed himself in a world driven by internal combustion.
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