While stationed in Alaska in 1965 I saw my first A/FX Hemi make a pass down Anchorage Dragway. At that very moment I promised myself that one day I would own a Hemi. On a young airman’s salary (I think it was around $178 a month) it was totally out of the budget. With the addition of a wife and children it totally went on the back burner. In the late 60’s I was assigned to instructor duty at Chanute AFB in Rantoul, IL. I had a part time job at a Mopar recon center where we prepped cars for a dealer auction in Chicago. Most were leases, exec driven, and test cars. Hemi cars were going across the auction block for $2500 to $2800 (this was a Mopar dealer auction only). With the dream back alive I sold my 1968 Super Bee and with money saved had about $3200 in my pocket. I picked out a 1970 Super Bee that we had prepped and hid it in the back of the lot while I lined up my ducks; the biggest one was convincing the local Dodge dealer that he wanted to do this for me. On Sundays before each auction the crew would travel to Chicago to wash the cars before the auction. I thought to help my case and maybe lower the price a little water in the gas tank couldn’t hurt, when it was mine I would just flush it out. The next day the dealer and I headed to the auction. I was armed with my $3200, $200 of which went to the dealer (some convince job huh?) As the car crossed the block I swear the water made that Hemi run better. I don’t remember what happened after the bid went to $3200 as I had gone into a deep depression.
In late May or early June of 1971 a friend of mine who owned the local Sunoco station convinced me to go with him to Mr. Norms in Chicago. He had a '67 Barracuda he was thinking about trading. I’m not sure why but I put my $3200 in my pocket. While at Norm’s, in passing conversation, a salesman found out about it and that I was thinking of buying a 4-speed Hemi. The next thing I remember is that my pocket was empty, I had signed some papers saying I still owed them around $1100, and for the first time I was looking at a red and white Super Bee on the dyno with someone telling me that it was mine. The only part of that I remember was the dyno had a horse power select switch for 200 and 400, as I watched the needle bounce off the peg I suggested to the operator that he select the 400 range to which he replied “it is”. Upon our triumphant return to Rantoul, the gang was getting ready to head to Assumption (the closest drag strip), to which I thought “what a great idea”. It seams that the car ran in the 12.8’s on street tires but that was a 1000 ft. strip. I spent the rest of the summer abusing the car on a portion of I-57 (that was not yet open) beating most comers. Rantoul is a very small town but had a lot of fast cars, In particular I remember a 475 hp 454 chevelle that would stay wheel to wheel until I pulled 3rd gear at which time it would appear that he put on the brakes. By the end of summer the Hemi was not feeling so well and I took it to my friend the dealer who said “no way-no warranty”. I took it to the dodge dealer in Champaign who took it in, said it suffered from too much rpm and had scored cylinder walls. He fixed it and sent the bill to Chrysler. By Christmas it was feeling ill again (some dummies never learn), this time the block needed replaced. He contacted the area rep who was busy with his Christmas stuff so he said “give him a Christmas present but the next one is on him”. By the next summer it was again feeling ill (we’ve passed dumb and gone to JUST PLAIN STUPID) and the quote for a replacement was somewhere around $1100. Since I was having so much fun I had quit my part time job, and the wife, deciding that she wasn’t interested in competing with a Hemi, had moved on to bigger and better things (not sure I like that connotation). With bank accounts totally depleted it was time to bid farewell. My friend the Dodge dealer and I took it to the auction in Chicago where it limped through and was sold to a dealer whom I believe was out of Ohio.