The owner of this car, Randy Dahms of Snohomish, Washington, has owned this since he was 25 years old. He bought the car in 1987 in pieces and he rebuilt it from the ground up. “It was a basket case,” he explained. “It was door dinged to death and it had crappy paint.” It also had a race-built 440 cubic-inch engine that didn’t run very well, no top to speak of, and Chevrolet fuel technology on it.
“From the time I was in high school I wanted a ‘Cuda convertible,” Randy told us. “I was a regular reader of Auto-Trader and found this for sale in Edmonds.” So when he saw his dream car for sale not far from home, he jumped on it. He wasn’t concerned about condition, because as long as he had the car, he could work on it.
He fixed it up and drove it around until 2013 when the engine developed an oil leak. He pulled the motor and found that the problem was a little more serious. “The rings were shot,” he described. “So we decided to stroke it out.” It’s now a 418 cubic-inch small-block engine. “I wanted gobbs of low-end power and I wanted to hear the cam. I didn’t ask for 20 miles-per-gallon and I didn’t get it.”
The car was repainted to match the newly built-up drivetrain, but the car has never been nut-and-bolt or frame off restored, and it’s never been down to bare metal. The door jams have never been repainted either and there are quite a few original components on the car that have never been changed—like the nearly flawless factory original door panels.
The 418 cubic-inch engine was built with a Scat crank, Crane full roller camshaft, solid lifters, and Edelbrock performance heads. The fuel system is comprised of an Edelbrock intake and a Quick Fuel 650 cfm double-pumper carburetor. The drivetrain setup puts out and impressive 480 horsepower and 511 lb-ft of torque.
On top of everything else, to add to how cool this car is, it’s one of only 88 convertibles made that year equipped with the 340 cubic-inch engine and a 4-speed manual transmission. This is the kind of car that looks good, has a good story behind it, and is rare as can be. It also doesn’t hurt that it’s got such a high output small-block motor. The drivetrain on this ‘Cuda follows the mantra of American Muscle, and we couldn’t have said it better than Randy when he repeated to us this tried and true statement: “There is no replacement for displacement.”
We really enjoyed getting to take a look at Randy’s convertible ‘Cuda, and we’d love to see what you are driving out there. If you’re proud of it, odds are good that we will like it too, so shoot us an email with a couple pictures and a little information on your ride, you might just see it here as one of our Street Features. Still a work in progress? Now worries, we’re always interested inprojects for our What Are You Working On series.