The First Hemi 'Cuda has been found!!! The first Hemi 'Cuda actually has the serial number 003, not 001. Serial numbers 001 and 002 were crushed by Chrysler after each of their individual evaluations. Most prototypes, pre-production, and pilot cars were crushed. These models are built to evaluate assembly procedure, quality control, and option compatibility. Engineers learned all they could from these early models and sent them to the shredder.
The original buyer of Hemi 'Cuda Number One was Mark Evans, who lived in the small town of Waterloo, Indiana. On November 8, 1969, Mr Evans took a drive from Waterloo to Fort Wayne, and pulled up in an old dealership that has been in business since the '30s. Chrysler shipped it out into the country to "dump" it in a quiet rural market. It was a saleable car but, it was still early enough in production for Chrysler to have some questions about its quality. Mr. Evans bought the first Hemi 'Cuda at a pretty cheap price since it was considered a "Company" or "Program" car. Mark had no idea about its collectibility. All he wanted is a Hemi 'Cuda.
Mr. Evans had some health problems and could not continue to operate the car because of the stiff clutch pedal. Mileage stayed very low at around 15,000. Mr. Evans passed away and his family kept it for a while. They needed room in their one-car garage so, in the summer of 1983, his family sold it to Gary Dodane (it's current owner).
The 'Cuda spent the next 14 years parked in Gary's garage. His wife, wasn't excited with this arrangement. When it was time to move into a new house, his wife wanted that 'Cuda to go elsewhere. Gary came up with a plan. His plan was to ship the Mopar off to the National Automotive and Truck Museum of the United States in Auburn, Indiana. Gary got to keep his car!!!!
The Hemi 'Cuda was hand-built on August 1-2, 1969, from an Alpine White Body. It was built in a side room at Detroit's Hamtramck Assembly Plant. The purpose was to be torn down so the information could be used to create the Flat Rate manual (this book tells dealers how to calculate labor charges for all kinds of repairs).
This car was originally constructed as a BP23 Gran Coupe, then later it was reconfigured and tagged as a BS23 Hemi 'Cuda during reassembly process. Chrysler kept this Mopar for three months before it was sold to a dealer. During the three months, certain top Chrysler executives and designers used it for "quick" trips to the store and various places.
This Hemi 'Cuda has its share of stuff that makes it unique compared to all the other 652 'Cuda hardtops. This Hemi 'Cuda was built without the chrome hood pins, road lamps, and "hockey stick" rear-quarter stripes. All these parts were standard equipment on the Hemi 'Cuda model. Left over from it's Gran Coupe days is the overhead consolette. The overhead consolette was standard on the Gran Coupe and optional on the 'Cuda.
This car also has a standard dashboard that did not include a tachometer or a 150mph speedometer. That's odd that a car with so much engine (426ci to be exact) doesn't even have a tach to watch the the revs also, Why would a 426ci Hemi have a 120mph speedometer? Probably from its early days as a Gran Coupe I guess. Hemis came with 150mph speedometer not a 120mph speedometer. This car also has the R22 AM radio with stereo eighttrack tape player.
The first Hemi 'Cuda is unrestored with only 17,720 original mileage! It got a fresh coat of Alpine White a few years ago, but the engine, driveline, and interior are all original. This Hemi 'Cuda went through a lot in its lifetime, but its still here! This awesome Mopar is now getting its' well deserved rest quietly at a museum in Auburn, Indiana.
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