OCTOBER 15, 2018
A love lost is always a love always remembered.
Or such was the case with Brad Toles and his ‘Cuda obsession.The financial depression of 2007 caused Toles’ love of classic Mopars to reluctantly sell his yet to be finished ’71 ‘Cuda, just to survive. Like so many business owners at that fateful time, it required great resourcefulness to avoid total bankruptcy. With banks failing and stocks on the rocks, his ’71 ‘Cuda was sold just to keep things afloat.
But loves lost have a way to making a mark that sticks with us for many years after the fact. But having weathered the rough years, seven years after the loss of his first ‘Cuda, a new opportunity reared its grille. With his focus on tribute hemi cars becoming a driving force, he uncovered a very nice ’71 ‘Cuda 340 complete with a fender tag denoting the rare billboard-style graphics and a shaker hood. With a terrific head start on this car compared to the one he sold – Toles set his plan in motion with the mindset of not letting this one get away.
Toles is a maniac.
His collection of rare parts its amazing not only for its tremendous size but also for its organization. A chef by vocation, the same style of organization that allows him to make amazing culinary creations, is present with his car builds. When making an amazing dish for his customers, he can’t run out to the grocery store for a missing item. All of the ingredients must be present mise en place as the chefs call it everything in place.
That same style of organization is present in Toles garage where parts are logged, bagged, sorted, and racked for easy access. When he needs a carburetor jet for a classic Carter AFB or the right hose camp for a 1970 GTX, it’s ready to go. In addition, he has stockpiled a collection of original Chrysler sheetmetal just to make sure that when recreating his cars, original sheetmetal is used throughout.
So Toles set out to build his dream Cuda, a 1971 model with Sublime Green exterior, one of his favorite hues for all things Mopar. For the interior he went with the factory black vinyl coverings while retaining the 727 Torqueflite transmission and Slap Stik Mopar shifter with surrounding console. All of the high information, high ‘data” gauges were used to keep track of engine and cooling system operation and a shiny red pull knob under the dash opens the doors within the Shaker Hood to unleash the beast of all 426 cubic inches ramming air through the twin four barrel carbs for combustion
The move to the hemi engine in place of the more than capable original 340cid engine was for a variety of reasons. First, there is nothing cooler than a hemi engine. The powerplant that rewrote the books with regards to not only drag racing competition (the 426 Hemi engine was the template for the most suspension Top Fuel and Funny Car class vehicles) but also made an enormous impact on NASCAR just as Richard Petty.
Another key reason for switching to a hemi engine was simple those who can do. Through his Mopar “Nugget find” Excursions across the US to locate cool and ultra rare parts, Toles has amassed a number of hemi engines and parts. After teaming up with John Shewbert, one of the last of the great engine builders from the 1960’s and 70’s, he had the two key pieces required to build cars of this type the parts and a guy who knows how to put them together. Today Toles has not only a number of hemi-powered cars but also engines assembled by Shewbert that stand ready to find their way between the fender wells of cars he has under construction.
The Sublime Green ’71 Cuda that rolled out if Toles’ shop in Palm Springs is a perfect recreation of what could have been delivered by your local Chrysler/Plymouth dealership in late 1970 or most of 1971 (only 6,228 coupes where made that year in total- only 108 with the Hemi engines), Remember this was the time of the conversion to unleaded fuels nation wide, which basically heralded the end of the muscle car era. The last year of the 426cid hemi engine, Chrysler was to make the 440cid engine the top dog in 1972. For that reason alone, original ’71 Hemi cars have reached stratospheric heights.
Without a doubt these cars were made to go fast. No A/C options on the order blank, these cars featured only go fast upgrades such as power front disc brakes (standard was four wheel drum), shaker hood, Track Pak, Super Track Pak and Performance axle packages were just some of the more notable upgrades. For the fashion conscious, there were options such as body color Elastomeric bumpers and “high performance tape” such as the Billboard “Hemi” body graphics shown on Toles’ Cuda.
Home for Good
So Toles’ Cuda is back safely in his garage for cruising or showing when the urge hits him. The one-year-only body shape is a collectable for certain and one that Toles sees as being recognized in the near future of its true grounding breaking style and amazing performance.
Says Toles, “I see these cars getting recognition at the Pebble Beach Concours and major shows of this caliber in the near future. These cars may not have been assembled by hand in an Italian shop surrounded by wine country but they are striking in their cutting edge exterior design and colorations. Combine that with the legacy of their powertrains which was to rewrite the racing record books, especially their domination of American racing, I believe, makes them concours worthy.”
1971 Plymouth ‘Cuda Tribute 426 Hemi
Brad Toles, Palm Springs, CA
Type: 426cid Hemi 425HP/490 lb. ft.
Bore x stroke: 4.310 (bore) x 3.250 (stroke)
Block: Factory OE 0.030-inch overbore
Rotating assembly: Diamond Forged pistons, Mopar Kellogg crankshaft, street hemi connecting rods
Cylinder heads: Factory original port matched and bowl blended over size 2.19-inch intake and 1.88-inch exhaust
Camshaft: Comp Cams 0.3850/0.3830-inch Lift, 248/255-degree duration, All original valve train throughout
Induction: Edelbrock AFB Carbs for engine break in original Carter AFB’s are ready for installation
Oiling system: Melling oiling system
Exhaust: Stock Hemi exhaust manifolds
Ignition: Factory Mopar original CD ignition 36-degrees timing
Cooling: Factory original radiator and clutch fan
Transmission: Chrysler TorqueFlite 727-B three-speed automatic
Clutch: McLeod clutch system
Shifter: Factory Slap Stik shifter
Driveshaft: stock factory restored to original
Rearend: Dana 60 with 3:55:1 ratio with Sure-Grip
Front suspension: Stock Chrysler
Rear suspension: Stock Chrysler
Steering: stock power steering box
Front brakes: Stock Chrysler Bendix disc brakes
Rear brakes: Stock Chrysler drum brakes
Power Booster: Aftermarket booster shown – Factory unit ready to go
Painter: West Coast Mopar/AACCR
Paint: PPG water-base with two-stage clear X9 Black
Wheels: Factory original steel wheel with button hub caps
Tires: B. F. Goodrich T/A Radials