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SEMA 2011 Highlights

Martin Wimberly, Odin, Illinois

Martin Wimberly
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1971 Plymouth HEMI 'Cuda Convertible "Imposter"

The first Mopar "Top Eliminator" of 2011, Martin Wimberly, was picked at the Mopars in the Park car show in Minnesota in June thanks to his 1971 Plymouth HEMI 'Cuda "Imposter." Wimberly's restoration of his Mopar spanned over five years and featured an abundance of Mopar Performance Parts. "I set out to build the closest example I could of a 1971 HEMI 'Cuda convertible, and I have been told by many that I accomplished that goal," said Wimberly. "To be named a Mopar 'Top Eliminator' winner is awesome!"

View full specs on Martin Wimberly's 1971 Plymouth HEMI 'Cuda "Imposter" Did you have previous knowledge about modifying/restoring Mopars before this project, or did you "learn as you go"?

I have been into Mopars all my life. When my dad came home in 1970 with a 1969 Road Runner and honked the horn in the driveway, I was bitten at the age of 6. Through my years growing up, I learned a lot from my dad as he not only taught me how to work on cars in general, he also taught me patience and through patience comes quality work.

What is your favorite feature of your restored/modified ride?

For me, it runs much deeper than one feature. It's the combination of several features together that makes this car package the ultimate muscle car ever produced and it's a Mopar. Take a Shaker-hooded 1971 Cuda Convertible in GB5 True Blue Metallic, black matte billboard, black leather grain top, add a massive 426 HEMI headed dual 4-barrel monster engine, with a console shifted 4-speed manual transmission, Dana 60 differential, black leather bucket seats, rim blow steering, 15 x 7 rallye wheels, with Goodyear tires and it's the most dynamite combination ever built in my eyes.

Why did you choose a Mopar vehicle for your project?

I chose a Mopar because Mopars have always been my passion in the high-performance car area. Mopar muscle cars get the blood pumping and get me excited. In my opinion, there has to be something wrong with a person that doesn't get excited about putting their foot down on the pedal of a HEMI-powered car! I've also raced a 426 HEMI-injected 1970 AAR Cuda and that will really get you going, talk about the hair standing up on the back of your neck, WOW!

What was your reaction to your car being chosen as a Mopar "Top Eliminator" and being included in the Mopar display at SEMA?

It was one of disbelief and amazement at the same time; I just couldn't believe that the Mopar Performance Group picked my car over all the others at a show of over 1,200 cars. Then to be told Mopar was going to include the car in their display at SEMA, "WHAT? COME ON, YOU'RE GOING TO WHAT?!" I attend the SEMA show every year for my job at Radiac Abrasives, Salem, Illinois, and for my car to be there, during my visit there, wow! … my car's going to be in the Mopar display at SEMA and I was just awarded the Mopar Top Eliminator Winner 2011, I had to pinch myself after receiving the award. My son Logan attended the show in Farmington with me and after leaving the fairgrounds in Farmington, I asked him "What just happened??" Because nothing had set in yet, I said "Logan, we just won Mopar Top Eliminator for 2011, and I can't believe it!!!" After all the hard work, we were just recognized by Mopar Corporate for a quality job on the car.

Why did you decide to restore/modify your vehicle?

A 1971 HEMI Cuda Convertible has always been my dream car. I didn't believe I would ever have the opportunity to own an original, so I knew going into this project that I wanted to build the absolute best '71 Hemi Cuda Convertible Imposter built to date. Many people in the Mopar hobby have said I reached my goal by the quality and correctness of the completed car.

The majority of the parts used for the building of my 1971 Hemi Cuda Convertible dream car were original NOS inventory parts. I did use Mopar reproduction parts on items that were unattainable, like brushed 71 trim rings for the wheels, as well as many engine parts, valve covers, pistons, pushrods, cam and lifters, timing set, gaskets, bearings for the engine.

Who assisted you in this project?

My wife's role played the biggest. Jody has the same passion with Mopar muscle cars as I do and her passion for High Performance Mopars runs just as deep as mine. She has always been my biggest supporter. Jeff Campbell and Bobby Mifflin are friends I wanted involved in this project because they were people I basically grew up with and they are also heavily involved in performance cars as well and we all share the same interest, and that is building quality cars.

My best friend John Buchholz played the role of helping me keep my sanity through all the trials and tribulations that happened throughout the build.

Ken Mosier's group Finer Details of Danville, Indiana, for the effort and work they did to help me finish the car's assembly and apply the inspection marks throughout the car.

At what car shows have you displayed your vehicle?

"First show - the 2010 Mopar Nationals, Columbus, Ohio: The car took 1st place in the class. That was a major accomplishment for me because that's what I set out to do. Many people that viewed the car at the show were amazed with the quality of the build and many asked if it was the real thing.

2011 Mopars in the Park, Farmington, Minnesota: I was awarded the Mopar Performance Top Eliminator for 2011 out of approximately 1,200 cars in attendance. It was an overwhelming experience to receive such a high honor from Mopar Performance. Dale, with Mopar, gave me an ultimate compliment. Dale says, "Martin, I've seen and inspected a lot of cars at shows and yours has to be at the top on quality and I don't think I've seen any better." All I could say was, "WOW!!"

2011 Mopar Happening Chicago Show at Belvidere, Illinois: Awarded Top High Points Judged and Best of Show awards. This was another set-me-back-on-my-butt (rear) shows. I was very honored by the reviews and responses of judges and spectators while my family and I attended the show. People were really impressed by the quality of the build and the overall balance and high quality appearance of the car. It was very well received by all that looked at the car and I was thanked many times for bringing it to the show. Bob Ashton, from the National Muscle Car show association, presented me with a special invitation to attend and compete in the Muscle Car Rosemont Center Chicago Land Show, Nov 19th and 20th. This was icing on the cake for an already enjoyable and honored weekend in Belvidere. I kept asking Bob, "are you sure I should attend the Rosemont show? I don't know if I should." Bob stated, "Martin, your car even though it's a clone or imposter, it's such a high quality car it deserves to be there." Many people at the show asked me if it were the real thing. So I asked them, "does it look like it?" and they said, "yes." I told them that I was trying to build the best Imposter '71 Hemi Cuda Convertible ever built.

2011 Monster Mopar Indianapolis: Awarded Best E-Body HEMI car. People really displayed their passion for the car during the show. Many good things were said, from, "that's a beautiful car" to "is that a real Hemi Cuda Convertible?" I have been proud many times during the show season with this car, and the final blow came from Ted Stephens of Stephens Performance. I've known Ted for many years just like many people in the hobby and he and I have become very good friends, at least in my eyes we have. I respect many of Ted's views because I know he and I share the same views on quality and just what quality is. Many people have different thoughts on what is quality. So, Ted, stops by the car to chat and take a break from the rest of the show and during this time, Ted, makes a statement and says, "Martin, I've seen many of these clone Hemi Cuda Convertibles done over the years and your car is by far the best clone that's ever been done." For Ted to make a statement like that means a lot to me because I know coming from him he means every word and I take that as an ultimate compliment of the quality that went into this Hemi Cuda Convertible. The statement Ted made honored me with the happiness of knowing that I was being honored in his eyes as completing my personal quest to build the most correct appearing 1971 Hemi Cuda Convertible Imposter ever built. Thank you, Ted.

Chrysler Power Magazine: I was contacted by Chrysler Power's Editor-in-Chief Roland Osborne after winning the Mopar Top Eliminator Award in Farmington, Minnesota, and Roland wanted to do a photo spread and article on the car for the SEMA Chrysler Power Collector's Edition magazine. It's every man's dream to have their car featured in a magazine, and now that dream has come true. WOW!!

Power Block TV Show: In Late July, the producer saw a photo of my '71 convertible and contacted me about doing TV Show Power Block with the car, which is a RTM Production studio in Franklin, Tennessee, that produces the shows Power Block, Extreme 4 X4, Muscle Car, Horse Power TV and Trucks. I transported the Cuda convertible down to Franklin for a September 29th taping of the show for Power Block. I was interviewed by Courtney Hansen about building the car and why I built the car the way I did. What an enjoyable experience. The show will air Sunday, December 18th on Spike TV. I want to thank my friend Dan Jackson and the people at RTM Productions that made this experience possible.

What sets Mopar vehicles and Mopar fans apart from the rest?

Mopar people in general have a deep passion for life and vehicles. The cars and trucks we drive in our everyday world mean a lot to us and we express ourselves with the different cars and trucks we drive and build. We are VERY BRAND LOYAL people.

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