The Graveyard Carz crew takes wrecked muscle cars and restores them to assembly line condition. Check out season 10, episode 13 to watch them work some serious magic on this rare Coronet survivor. Subscribe to the MotorTrend App for $2 per month to start watching today!
It’s no secret that having a Hemi under the hood of a car, like say a 1970 Dodge Coronet R/T convertible, usually means big money in today’s collector car world. But wasn’t always like that. By the early 1970s most muscle cars were not only expendable, but also frowned upon, which included anything with a Hemi. The gas crunch and high insurance rates were the primary culprits that brought about the demise of these big cube gas-guzzlers. As a result, many ended up in local junkyards because most people weren’t dialed in yet to their rarity.
That said, in the Mopar world back then there were a few folks scattered throughout the country who did have an idea early on that Hemi-powered cars were quite rare and they slowly started to acquire and restore them. Some of these cars, like the 1970 Hemi Coronet R/T Hemi convertible that currently sits in the Brett Torino Collection after being restored by the crew at Graveyard Carz, now serve as rolling testaments to the early efforts of those select few. This particular Coronet R/T is one of only two convertibles produced in 1970 with a 426 Hemi. One was built with a 727 Torqueflite transmission, while this one was optioned with a 4-speed.
Coronet Canadian Junkyard Find
Brett’s car was originally found sitting in a Canadian junkyard in the late 1970s. The individual that found it was clearly savvy enough to know that the “R” in the VIN denoted a Hemi, and found it worthwhile to save. Unfortunately for him, it was already missing its drivetrain. The Hemi and A833 4-speed were a distant memory, along with some of the exterior and interior pieces. That didn’t prevent him from pulling the rusty Dodge out of the yard and eventually restoring it back to its former glory.
Restoration of these cars today can be a challenge because there aren’t as many parts being reproduced for B-Bodies like the Coronet as there are for some of the more popular Mopar models. But when the car was initially put back together, you could still walk into a dealership and buy NOS parts, the junkyards were still filled with their lowly siblings, and running cars could be bought up for a few hundred bucks. In the early 1980s, this particular Coronet R/T convertible began to show up at North East Hemi Owners meets in the Tri-State area and could be spotted at least twice a year during their holiday events. It had been given a 1980s level restoration, right down to the day-two Cragar wheels.
Eventually, the R/T convertible made its way into Brett’s over-the-top collection of rare Detroit iron. It was still wearing the respray applied back then and was starting to show some wear, with the most obvious eyesore being a dent in the front fender. But what really pushed things to another level was when it was started up and the Hemi began to make internal noises and had a drop in oil pressure. At that point he picked up the phone and called Mark Worman at Graveyard Carz, who had already done a couple of restorations on other vehicles in Brett’s collection.
1970 Dodge Coronet R/T Convertible Restoration
After it was sent up to Mark, it ended up sitting for a number of years until work was started. Eventually the guys at the shop got the restoration moving and did their usual routine of a complete teardown to get the R/T ready for an acid bath. Since the car looked like it was in really good condition, and complete, the plan was to use as many of the good parts as possible when it was put back together. Brett actually wanted to try and keep some parts in their unrestored state, like the bumpers, to preserve some of the car’s originality. After the Coronet R/T convertible returned from its acid dip, the sins under the skin were exposed. The biggest issue the restoration team faced were the rear quarters. When the car was restored after its junkyard escape, replacement panels were hung over portions of the original quarters and then finished off with an ample amount of Bondo. When they reached this point in the restoration, the options were few. At the time no one was reproducing quarters, so they were faced with either finding another set, or using the ones that had been hung—they opted for the ones on the car. They were removed and properly rehung. The car eventually made its way to the paint stage and was sprayed in a Deep Burnt Orange Metallic, which apparently isn’t a very popular color so it had to be custom mixed. They eventually laid down the base coat/clear coat PPG paint.
The Hemi Coronet was also sent out for a complete refresh. This particular engine, which was the one installed when the car was first put back together, actually has no serial number on the block. According to Mark, it was a 426 replacement block that you could buy over the counter back in 1972. The A833 and Dana rear were also given a full rebuild. The restoration was slow to start but when things started to move, it all came together, and along with seeing this car in its restored state, those who want to understand the whole process a little better should pull up the MotorTrend App and watch season 10, episode 13 of Graveyard Carz to see what was done to it.
1970 Dodge Coronet R/T Convertible Build Information
- Engine type: 1972 426 cubic-inch big block
- Bore x stroke: 4.255 (bore) x 3.750 (stroke) inches
- Block: 1972, 426 cast-iron replacement block
- Rotating assembly: Stock forged crank, stock forged connecting rods, aluminum pistons
- Cylinder heads: 1970 cast iron
- Camshaft: Stock Chrysler
- Compression: 10.25:1
- Induction: Stock Chrysler cast iron manifold, dual Carter AFB carburetors, factory Ramcharger hood
- Electronics: Stock Chrysler distributor
- Oiling system: Stock oil pan, high volume oil pump
- Exhaust: Stock cast iron exhaust manifolds, stock pipes, stock mufflers
- Cooling: Stock 26-inch radiator
- Transmission: A833 18-spline heavy duty 4-speed
- Shifter: Factory 4-speed Pistol Grip shifter
- Driveshaft: Stock Chrysler
- Rearend: Stock Dana 60 posi with 4.10:1 gears
- Front suspension: Factory original torsion bars,(restored), stock shocks
- Rear suspension: Factory original leaf springs (restored), stock shocks
- Steering: Factory original power steering box (restored)
- Front brakes: Chrysler original 10.5-inch discs
- Rear brakes: Chrysler original 11-inch drums
- Sheetmetal: Original sheetmetal
- Paint: PPG 2-stage Deep Burnt Orange Metallic
- Stripe: Reproduction from Phoenix Graphics
- Convertible top: 1970 Crush Grain reproduction
- Paint and bodywork performed by: Graveyard Carz
- Instrumentation: Original Chrysler instrumentation
- Dash: Original dash
- Steering wheel: Original steering wheel
- Upholstery: Original seats with reproduction covers, reproduction carpet
- Audio: AM 8-track radio
- Wheels: Chrysler Rallye Wheels 15 x 7 (front and rear)
- Tires: Goodyear Polyglas GT F60-15 (front and rear)