Through the years, we’ve come to know and love Dave Ferro at Totally Auto as a guy who’s obsessed with details. He’s also obsessed with not losing sight of the fact that this is a hobby and hobbies are meant to be enjoyed. Cars are cars, no matter how valuable they are, so you’re just as likely to find Dave burning rubber in an OEM restored car as you will figuring out exactly where to put all those grease pencil marks and paint splotches. The yellow ‘Cuda convert you’re looking at right now though doesn’t have anything to do with paint splotches, it’s all about attention to detail with the accent on function, performance, and comfort.
Wayne Putts of rural Pennsylvania owns this Curious Yellow flyer, and the twist of fate which brought Wayne and Dave together is beyond Twilight Zone strange. At the 2004 Carlisle event, Dave was mentioning to Rob Wolf (Editor of Mopar Collectors Guide) how much he missed his old Challenger R/T SE (featured MCG April 2005) that he’d sold years before. At that exact moment, the car he was talking about came rumbling along behind him with Wayne Potts behind the wheel. They struck up a deal on the spot, Dave got the orange Challenger back, and Wayne took ownership of a ‘70 Barracuda convertible which was well on its way to being cloned into a Nash Bridges ‘71 Hemicuda look-a-like. Dave had used the 318 powered Barracuda convert as a fair weather driver for a few years, and after finishing with the restoration of the actual Nash Bridges car, he opted to use the leftover parts on the ‘70 convert to make his own personal cruiser version of the car. All that went on the scrap heap to get the R/T SE back, however.
Part of the deal was that Dave and his crew at Totally Auto would finish up the restoration work on the Barracuda, so that Wayne would have a Hemi clone tailor-made to suit his taste. At first, work progressed toward making this one into a stone-stock clone car, which would be finished in the brighter Curious Yellow paint instead of the more sedate yellow used on the Nash Bridges car. With their typical methodic precision, Totally Auto set about fretting over every last nut, bolt, and washer on the convertible. While all this was going on, Dave had gone through the ‘70 Challenger preparing it for the 2005 Hot Rod Magazine Power Tour. Cosmetically and visibly stock, a lot of nifty little tricks went into the Dodge to make it handle better, perform more reliably, and be a comfortable long-distance road car. Since he’d owned the Challenger for years prior to trading it back to Dave, Wayne thought he knew everything there was to know about the orange car. Once he drove his old mount after Dave and the boys had gone through it, all the plans then on the table for the yellow convertible went straight out of the window! He couldn’t believe an E-body could act and handle like a modern car, so he wanted the same for the convert. Literally, he told Dave to "go nuts" with the convertible and pretty much gave Totally Auto a free reign in what to do with the Plymouth. Yes, that takes faith, but then again, if you know Dave Ferro, (or TEAM TOTALLY AUTO) at all, you know he’s going to go over-the-top given such an opportunity. And, he did.
Rob Wolf asked Wayne if he’d be interested in the Barracuda being the Mopar Collectors Guide 2006 Hot Rod Power Tour vehicle, which Wayne quickly agreed to. Once the plan changed into making the ‘Cuda clone into the 2006 Power Tour car, everybody’s enthusiasm was kicked up a few notches. Work on the project accelerated rapidly and ideas for the car poured in from Wayne, Dave, Rob and everybody in the shop. Before long, they’d come up with this state-of-the-art blinding tourer.
For power the boys went with a 525 horsepower 472" crate Hemi topped with an Edelbrock 750 carb. This delivers more-than-ample power, while the hydraulic cam makes spinning a Classic Auto Air a/c compressor trouble free all around. Dave and the boys custom made a Shaker base plate to mate the bubble to the polished carb. Backing up the Hemi is a Bill DeFalco built TorqueFlite which shifts with more authority than any non-manual valve body T-Flite we’ve ever seen. Behind all that is a 8-3/4" rear with 3.55 Sure Grip gears. A full TTI 3" exhaust system moves everything back to the tips, and everything from the headers to the hangers are ceramic coated. Then there’s the sway bars front and rear, the polyurethane bushings, and the homemade, well, shop made, sub-frame connectors that you’d swear were original equipment.
The interior is deceptively stock looking. New white skins were installed, but there’s a lot of creature comforts built into the cockpit. Both front seats feature internal warmers, there’s multiple layers of sound deadening material under the carpet, the doors are sprayed full of sound deadener, and the power windows are activated via switches located conveniently in the console. A Pistol Grip shifter was modified to fit atop a Slap Stick shifter mechanism, a Grant wheel faces the driver, and behind the stock radio face is a modern AM/FM cassette digital job hooked to a six disc CD changer and a half-million watt amplifier. The whole sound system is controlled by a remote control, so the knobs don’t even turn on the stock looking radio face!
As far as the convertible’s overall presence and personality is concerned, obviously this one’s far from subtle. In addition to the blinding Curious Yellow paint with multiple coats of clear on top, the boys opted for the killer white reflective billboards to compliment the white top and interior. To make things a bit more different, Dave opted to paint the grille in dark textured Argent Silver, along with the Shaker bubble and taillight panel, so there’s some fantastic contrast provided to the highly reflective paint. The wheels are huge custom-made 17" Rallyes, which, interestingly use stock Argent painted center caps. These biggie-sized rollers give the convertible a very business-like stance.
Finished up just after the first of the year, Wayne’s curious convertible made its shakedown cruises in the frigid temps of eastern Pennsy in January and February. To everyone’s absolute delight, the convert handles and performs better than anyone dared to expect. The 472" Hemi can boil the tires on demand or it can provide enough power to enable long distance cruising at far above legal highway speeds without breaking a sweat. The ‘Cuda clone handles like it’s on rails, the stereo is capable of making your ears bleed, and at least during this winter, those warming seats are pretty darn useful!
Watch for this bright Hemi mover to be just about everywhere this year, as Wayne and Dave have plans for the car which will literally have it cruising from California to all over the east coast. And don’t look for any trailers, this one’s built to drive and it’s going to be driven - hard! The big event will be the Hot Rod Power Tour, of course, but the ‘Cuda will also be at most major Mopar events this year and will likely be a frequent flyer at those shows in the years to come. Wayne has a number of stock Mopars he shows, but after getting his first taste of how much fun a high-tech muscle car can be, he’s going to keep this one eating up asphalt.
Still, you’ve gotta’ appreciate the irony that Dave Ferro will be doing the Power Tour this year in the car he traded for the car he drove in the 2005 Power Tour - follow that? Truth is indeed stranger than fiction. Congrats to Dave, Carl and the gang at Totally Auto for boldly going where most people fear to tread.