If you have a Chrysler muscle car in need of restoration, you need to send it to Mark Worman at Graveyard Carz in Springfield, Oregon. Their shop motto is, “It’s Mopar or No Car,” and they are the number one Mopar restorers in the world. Chrysler muscle cars are some of the most collectible (and expensive) in the world, and if the discerning owner does not want to ruin the collectability of classic Mopar, there is no better team than Mark and his crew.
Worman strives to build his customers’ cars as cheaply and accurately as possible, often coming in at half of what other shops will charge for the same job. He says his only goal is to get as many Mopar cars back on the road and in as close to factory condition as possible. The attention to detail at Graveyard Carz is legendary; Mark can spot a fake from a mile away—well maybe not a mile, but if anyone can spot a clone or forgery, it’s him.
That’s why Jim Root, guitarist for Slipknot, brought his numbers-matching 1970 Plymouth ‘Cuda 440 6BBL to Graveyard Carz. The car has already been restored once, but Jim wants it redone by the best in the business. But, before the real work can begin, Mark wants to verify the numbers-matching status.
Verifying the Numbers on a Mopar E-body
As Cousin Dougie disassembles the ’70 ‘Cuda, Worman looks over every panel and number stamp to verify that the car is actually a 440 6BBL from the factory. What is he looking for? The first thing to do is verify that all hidden numbers match the VIN plates. The first set he checks are on the cowl, just below where the hood would be. But it isn’t just a matter of matching the last eight digits of the VIN to the stamping on the cowl. Mark wants to verify that the cowl panel hasn’t been modified or replaced. He checks the backside of the stamping to see if the original stamping is intact. He also looks at the welds and the sealant between the cowl panel and firewall. Next is the stamping on the core support; here, Mark is checking to see that the numbers are in the correct orientation and that the spot welds from the factory are still intact.
There are clues underneath the car as well. The front subframe connector has a very distinct look. There is a reinforcement plate at the junction of the frame rail, rocker panel and cowl extension. It’s not enough that the plate is in the right location, though, a factory ‘Cuda won’t have continuous welds around the reinforcement plate. This a detail some copycats miss; Mark says if he were to see a continuous weld around the plate it would be a big red flag in verifying the status of the car. Hardtop big-block E-body Mopars have another reinforcement plate at the rear of the car, where the leaf-spring hanger bolts to the rear-subframe. Again, the welds here are not continuous, or even nice to look at. All the body details check out on Jim Root’s ’70 ‘Cuda, but now it’s time to look at the engine.
Worman says it’s easy for the experienced forger to sneak a fake engine into a car and call it numbers-matching. For a 440 6BBL, the first detail he checks is the stamping pad at the top of the engine block. Sure, the block is painted the correct Hemi Orange, but does it have the HP or HP2 stamping that proves the engine was a six-barrel from the factory? He’s also checking the casting date on the block—anything cast after August 1, 1969 would mean the engine had been swapped. He even goes as far as measuring the size of the stamped numbers, comparing the font to already verified engine blocks and checking the milling marks on the stamping pad. Chrysler used a 10-inch mill head at their engine plant, so if the milling marks are bigger or smaller, he’ll know someone changed the numbers on the stamping pad.
What’s the verdict on Jim Root’s 1970 Plymouth ‘Cuda 440 6BBL? Will the restoration continue if the numbers don’t add up? You’ll have to tune into MotorTrend and the app to find out!