Story & photo by Cliff Gromer
One of the great things (I think there are six altogether) about the Mopar hobby is the stories. Aside from the ones we make up to amuse you readers, we hear real ones in bench racing sessions and listen to them from Mopar celebrities. But the best are the ones we overhear in the men’s room (or one of five that are gender-specific).
Talking recently to the K-bomb Bros, aka The K Bros, the subject came up on the value of paperwork. One of the bros (they asked me not to use their first names—guess you could call them K-bro the elder <K-e>, and K-bro the younger <K-y>), related the following tale about the window sticker, or Monroney, of the infamous red Hemicuda convertible No. 1.
Some background: back in the day, K the elder handled maintenance on Chrysler’s east coast press fleet cars based on East 44th St. in Manhattan. That was in addition to his day job as high-performance service manager at Rockville Centre Dodge on Long Island. The normal deal was for new press cars to be prepped at a dealer before getting shuffled into the New York press pool deck. For some reason, the Hemicuda was shipped directly to the press fleet garage, and K handled the new car check-in. Dealers typically removed the Moroney as part of their prep, so K did the same, stashing it away in his parents’ basement where it was soon forgotten.
The ‘Cuda then went to Cars magazine for a road test. There, it was flogged by Joe Oldham and others and was returned with a transmission leak. The fleet manager called K-e to fix the leak. He, in turn called K-y to take the subway into Manhattan, pick up the ‘Cuda and check it out, which he did. K-y drove back to Brooklyn, parked the car on the street across from his mother’s house, let the ‘Cuda cool off, and found a loose cooling line. So much for the trans leak.
The K’s sold the house in the early 2000s, and as K-y sifted through a trove of paperwork in the basement, he discovered the ‘Cuda’s Monroney. What to do? The ‘Cuda at the time was seasoning in England. The Ks decided to wait until the car came back to the states and seek out the owner.
When the ‘Cuda did return home, it went to Roger Gibson’s shop where it was restored by ol’ Rog and Frank Badalson. K-y attended the Carlisle Chrysler event in 2010, and brought the Moroney with him. A friend of his pointed out Badalson to him.
K approached Frank and asked it he could show him something. Frank replied, “sure.” K pulled the Moroney out of the envelope and showed it to him. Frank looked at the paperwork, looked at K, looked at the paperwork and looked at K a few times, then asked “what am I looking at?”
“Well, you’re looking at the original Monroney for that red Hemicuda convertible you’re restoring.”
“Who are you and how did you get it?”
K showed Frank copies of magazines that the car had been in where the Ks were involved in the drag tests. He pointed out himself and his brother in the pictures. K explained how they used to handle Chrysler PR cars, and that’s how they wound up with the Monroney. They initially didn’t save it for a future sale but simply as a curiosity item.
“What do you want to do with it?”
“Offer it to the current owner as provenance.”
Frank told him the ‘Cuda’s owner was Bill Wiemann, and K gave Frank his phone number for Bill to call. No one contacted K during the Carlisle weekend, but he said that he heard rumors that the paperwork was the talk of the show amongst the high rollers.
Two weeks after the show, Frank called and asked K if he had heard from Bill. He had not. Frank knew what K was asking for the paper and offered to buy it. K turned him down saying the window sticker only goes to the car’s owner, and if he doesn’t want it, then to any future owner who would.
Two more months go by and Bill calls. He’s interested in the Moroney but not at this time. He gets back some time after, when the restoration is complete, and asks if the price is still the same. It is.
Bill sends a check and K arranges to meet him at Mopar at the Strip 2011. K isn’t comfortable shipping the paper and wants to hand it to Bill in person. K says if Bill is not 100% satisfied, he ‘s prepared to refund him his money on the spot. Bill pulls the Monroney out of the envelope. A big smile creases his face. “Yeah.”
Bill shakes K’s hand and offers him the keys to take the’ Hemicuda for a spin. Four decades ago, the brothers had made countless WOT runs through the gears in the ‘Cuda, but now K turned him down. “I didn’t feel comfortable driving someone else’s 5-million-dollar car.”
So, I guess you’re all wondering, if you’ve been able to get this far, how much did the Ks get for a piece of paper?
Oh yeah, there was a little thing… about a 40-year “storage fee.” So, the total came out to… let’s just say it was more than the original sticker price of the car!