“Uncle” helps build this ’Cuda with 20 years of tax refunds.
Story • Al Dente • PHOTOS • TheBruntBros
You can’t see him but there’s always someone riding
shotgun with Greg Glinski in his ’71 Cuda.
It’s his silent partner—Uncle Sam who provided
the dough for Greg’s project with 20 years of tax
refunds. ’Course, Greg had to sweat for the money in the first
place, sending Uncle his fair share. The ’Cuda itself has been
a 22-year project with Greg poking at it whenever he had the
scratch—which usually was around tax refund time.
The whole deal started with Greg answered an ad in Auto
Trader—a 383 automatic ’71 ’Cuda located in New Mexico. The
seller agreed to drive it up to Detroit where Greg lived. On the
way, the ’Cuda lost a rear wheel when the studs snapped. Tore
up the quarter pretty good, too. But that wasn’t all, the seller
was a slick dude who wasn’t beyond pulling a fast one—like
substituting ’72 fenders with holes punched for the missing
gills. On the plus side, the car was rust-free and in decent overall
shape. Greg didn’t think the fenders were a big deal until he
started pricing them, like 4 grand for a set—way beyond Greg’s
budget at the time. The ’Cuda remained fender-challenged until
AMD started repopping them at an affordable price.
Greg’s original plan was to install a 400
big block with a 440 crank hooked to an
automatic. Eager to get started, Greg took
the ’Cuda completely apart. In hindsight,
he said he should have attacked the fish
a piece at a time so he could have at least
enjoyed it on the road. As it was, the car sat
in pieces for 10 years in his Detroit garage.
One reason was that Greg had to wait for
his next tax refund to buy needed parts.
Another was Detroit itself. Greg’s garage
opened to an alley, and Greg didn’t want
to be under the car or have his back to the
alley with people walking by and stealing
his stuff. Detroit is an open carry city for
handguns, and Greg made it his business
to have his gun on his hip whenever he
took out the garbage or cut his lawn.
I’ll tell you how bad it was. Greg witnessed
an attempted car jacking and
shooting in his driveway/alley, a drive-by
shooting on a neighbor’s house across the
street, a police swat team raiding the house
next to his, hookers doing their thing in cars
in front of his house till he chased them off
with a shotgun, two of his cars were stolen
but he caught the thief the third time … you
get the idea. When Greg finally moved to a
Detroit suburb, he and his brother Jerry, did
all the work on the ’Cuda, except for the roll
bar and paint, in a 2-car garage. So Greg
didn’t get to work on the car very much.
The 400 motor idea was canned on account of a rainstorm. It hit at the Nats a couple of years ago. Greg ducked
under the nearest tent for shelter.
When he turned around he came
face to fan with a ’6.1 Hemi out of
a wrecked ’09 Grand Cherokee for
sale in the back of a pickup. The
seller also was from Michigan and
agreed to hold the motor if no takers
stepped up before Greg pocketed
his next tax refund. A subsequent
refund went for an aftermarket front
end that we’re not too fond of but
did ease the Hemi install. The refund
after that went for a rotisserie and a
welder. Another check was dropped
on a T-56 6-speed. Then body parts
from AMD and on and on.
Getting into the project with his
brother, Greg had to tear out the
trans tunnel to fit the 6-speed, then
fab a new one (higher and wider). Not a
big deal for brother Jerry, as he worked
for Chrysler as a metal fabricator in the
prototype dep’t before moving to the clay
modeling area. Greg went with frame connectors
and added bracing to the front end
because of Ehrenberg’s concerns about
the aftermarket front end. The brothers
stitch-welded all the body panels including
the AMD-supplied fenders and quarter.
Greg also replaced the and front valence, as Greg says “everybody like to Baja their old Mopars” (at least this one.)
Greg didn’t want to go far astray from
the original interior. The stock console was
out of the question because of the new tunnel
and the position of the T-56 shifter, so
the one in there is custom.
The Dash-is pretty much stock but filled
with Speedhut gauges. Greg wanted factory
seats with lumbar and lateral support
as he plans to hit the autocross tracks. That idea went south after
Greg priced them
out. He shopped a
set out of the Summit
catalog and fit them
with a 5-point RJS
harness. The 6-point
roll bar has a swing
out behind the driver’s seat in case he
wants to host backseat drivers.
Greg says he drives the car “everywhere”
and has rolled up 3300 miles since
the car’s recent completion. He hasn’t
taken it down the track yet but that is on
his “to do” (or bucket) list. The battery
has been relocated to the trunk, but Greg
needs a tail panel-mounted cutoff switch
to pass tech. That will come when Uncle
opens his wallet.