Monday, October 1, 2007

Mopar's "Top Eliminator" Awards Showcase Guardians of Classic Muscle-Car Spirit

Date posted: 09-27-2007

CENTER LINE, Michigan — In the run-up to the 2007 Specialty Equipment Market Association show in Las Vegas, Mopar showed off the winners of its Top Eliminator awards, citing them for "passionate and skilled" restoration of classic muscle cars.

The winners include Mike Ege of Cornelius, North Carolina, who poured more than $100,000 into the restoration of a 1969 Dodge Dart Swinger 340 that had languished in storage from 1989-2003. The vehicle, painted R4/bright red, won Best of Show at the 2006 Mopar Nationals in Columbus, Ohio. The interior is stock and includes factory floor mats and plastic bags covering the seatbelts.

Mark Halbach of Janesville, Iowa, was honored for his work on a 430-horsepower 1970 Plymouth Hemi 340 'Cuda, which he transformed into a "HEMICudzter." The modifications included addition of a 6.1-liter Hemi mated to a Tremec five-speed transmission and the building of a removable, rubber-sealed roadster hardtop. So meticulous was Halbach that he even sprayed clearcoat on the car's undercarriage.

A rare 1971 Plymouth 'Cuda 440-6BBL is the work of George Sergakis of Grand Island, New York, another winner in the Top Eliminator contest. It took Sergakis more than three years to restore the car to exact factory/assembly line specifications. Details include a Hurst pistol-grip shifter with console, a Rimblow steering wheel and a Rallye instrument cluster. The 'Cuda is outfitted with the 385-hp original 440-cid engine mated to a manual four-speed A-833 transmission.

Robert Motz of Holland, Ohio, restored a 1970 Dodge Challenger RT to round out the slate of winners. He painted "550 Hemi" in a variegated "old school" golf leaf on the side of the head and on the body lines. The 810-hp engine is a Keith Black aluminum block with Mopar Performance aluminum heads, and a crane roller cam and valvetrain components. The restoration took nearly five years.

The 2007 SEMA Show, which is not open to the general public, runs October 30-November 2.

What this means to you: These will be on anyone's list of must-see vehicles at this year's SEMA show

Mopar gave its Top Eliminator awards to dedicated muscle-car customizers and restorers. Among the winners was Mike Ege, a North Carolinian who brought this '69 Dodge Dart Swinger 340 roaring back to life. (Photo courtesy of Mopar Performance Parts/Chrysler LLC)
Another winner was Mark Halbach, an Iowan who turned a '70 Plymouth Hemi 340 'Cuda into this "HEMICudzter" with a removable hardtop. (Photo courtesy of Mopar Performance Parts/Chrysler LLC)
Another dedicated soul rewarded: Robert Motz of Ohio, who spent five years restoring a '70 Dodge Challenger RT with, among many other ingredients, gold leaf. (Photo courtesy of Mopar Performance Parts/Chrysler LLC)

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