If you have ever “lost” something you’ll know what I’m talking about. I parked my pickup in the driveway one night and didn’t go out again until the morning. As I walked out to where I thought I had parked my truck I became confused, it wasn’t where I thought I left it. I turned and looked around at other places I sometimes left it but no, it wasn’t parked elsewhere either. I stopped and thought for a few seconds. . . what had I done, did I drive something else and forget?
One day I came home from somewhere and as I was parking my car I noticed the front door of my house was ajar. It wasn’t closed. I hadn’t been gone a long time, had I forgotten to close it completely? In both of these incidences, as reality started to set in, I began to be overcome with a sinking feeling, a very scary vulnerable feeling. I was at first confused, then in denial, then angry, then afraid, “What if the burglar is still here?” “What if I never get my truck back?” I didn’t like what was going on nor did I like being victimized.
In March 1970 Rick White went to Westway Chrysler-Plymouth Inc. in Beaverton, Oregon to order his new car. He didn’t pick one off the lot he wanted it equipped the way ‘he’ wanted it, he wanted it to be special. What he ordered was a 1970 Plymouth, Barracuda or ‘Cuda. This car was to have a 440 cubic inch engine with three 2 barrel carburetors, a “Super track Pak package, a 4 speed transmission with a Hurst shifter, a console, a Dana 60 posi-traction rear end. Spoked road wheels, a Shaker hood package, a full lighting group etc. It was just the way Rick wanted it. The car arrived at the dealership in April 1970 and Rick picked it up.
Over the years he met and married Jackie, started a family, worked in the construction business and as a family and with a partner they drove and raced the ‘Cuda at PIR and Woodburn Drag Strips. When the expense of racing got too much for him the car was stored many years until it was retro-fitted back to its stock configuration so it could be driven on the street. Rick registered the ‘Cuda in his and his sons name because he never intended to sell it, it was always going to remain in the family.
On April 18th 2001 Rick experienced that sinking feeling I described above when he discovered the garage door where the car was stored had been extensively damage and the ‘Cuda was GONE! Unfortunately Rick did not have the car insured for theft because it was safely tucked away out of sight in a garage. They reported it stolen, ran ads offering rewards, passed out flyers, literally went looking for the car but it had completely vanished. His beloved Factory Ordered, one owner Muscle car was apparently gone forever. Years passed with nothing surfacing on the ‘Cuda.
Fast forward to June 14, 2014 they receive a letter from a lien company saying a local towing/storage company was going to hold lien auction for one Plymouth ‘Cuda for accumulated storage fees amounting to four thousand plus dollars. Rick and Jackie received the lien auction notice because the registration was apparently still in the glove box where Rick had put it years before and it had his name and address on it. This was their missing/stolen 1970 Plymouth ‘ Cuda. Missing for more than 13 years. Very odd. Where had it been for all those years?
Rick contacted the lien company who told Rick the name of the local towing company that had the car. Rick call the towing company and was told yes the car was there, yes it was in pretty fair shape and together with towing company representative confirmed the license number and descriptive information via the phone. Rick informed the towing company that it was his car, and that it was stolen, and that he, Rick had the title and file full of proof it was his car. Rick told them not to do anything with the car that he was going to contact the police and send them there to see about the car. Rick called the police and an officer responded to his house to verify the paperwork and proof of ownership of the car. Rick showed them the title, original order forms, keys etc. The officer called the towing company only hours after Rick had talked to them and was informed that the storage fees had been paid and the towing company had delivered the car to the man that had paid the fees. The officer got the contact info for that person and called him saying he was coming to see the car and was he going to cooperate. The policeman was told ‘Yes’ the man who had the car now, would cooperate.
From this point onward the story takes many turns. KATU Channel 2’s Kerry Tomlinson picked up the story and did several prime time news reports on what had transpired. If you go to their web site you can learn more. (Visit www.katu.com/news/problemsolvers/ and search White’s Cuda Story for more info.) Lars Larson from KXL Radio, here in Portland picked up the story, talked to the man who had the car on his live radio program, asking qu-estions like “Where and when did you get the car?” “Did you get the title?” “The car was reported stolen, twice.” “Shouldn’t you give him his car back?”
The police said the statute of limitations had expired on the original stolen car report so Rick filed a new stolen car report hoping the police would be able to impound the car. As time always does, it marched on and the car didn’t get it impounded until July and when they went to pick it up it was completely dismantled. Many of the parts were “missing,” They got some of the parts back over time but it took quite a bit of time. Some parts are specific to this model as originally built and many of those parts remain missing. Because they are specific they are rare, hard to find and very expensive.
Rick finally got the car and parts back from the sheriff’s impound on November 14, 2014, 13 years, 210 days after it first vanished. Because the story had received wide spread coverage, a number of people locally and worldwide had gotten involved sending money, volunteering to help with the reassembly of the ‘Cuda. Mopar/restoration experts stepped up to help the Whites, who are now retired and simply can’t afford the cost of repair and reassembly of the car.
Dave Lentz spear headed the rebuild which began on November 15th when he picked it up on his old “Rat Roddish” tow truck. Rod Hardison and Dave co-directed the rebuild with the help of Chris Border and Dan Wendland making up the mechanical crew. Other Technical assistance was provided by Steve Canton, Randy Emery-Bad Boy Toys, (@13635 SE Division, Portland, OR. 503-477-4347) Ralph Albrich, and Sean Machado. Parts and services were donated by:
Get Bent Mandrel Bending, 10315 SE Highway 212, Clackamas, OR. 503-607-0443
Finishline Coatings, 2889 SE Silversprings Rd. Portland, OR. 503-659-4278
Totally Auto-Shaker paint
Advanced Letterpress-Bill Washburn
Craig & Brenda Satalick
Other Donations; George Denson, Dyre Vaa, David Annin, Vitamins N Things, Bob Land, Christopher Okeefe, Steve Canton, Robert Rice, Tom Nolen, John Lindback, Timothy Hatley-Smith, Scott Luinshi, Kenneth Mutschink, Angela & Ken Jones, Charlie Keel, Michael, Foster, Michael Brinkman, Kirsten Miller, Dave Pilcher, Mike Spooner, Mike Boyce, Mike Foster, Bill Brown, Gary Wade, Jeff Currie, Reed Herring, Stan Ochs, Rian Hamby, Dan Osborne and Bruce Gibson.
These kind and generous folks rebuilt/reassembled the White’s ‘Cuda and it runs, drives, and sits at home in their garage because of their generosity. The White Family thanks all of those involved for their time, work and aid in the ‘Cuda Project.