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2013 Toronto Auto Show: A fitting finish for champion Cuda

Published February 21, 2013

Whitby’s Robert Young was shocked when he was handed the Cruise Nationals first-place trophy at the Canadian International AutoShow.

“I was certainly surprised,” he said. “I didn’t think I’d win. I was hoping to place, but I wasn’t sure. I am ecstatic.”

Having just finished the restoration of his 1971 Plymouth Cuda in July, Young’s wife, Fiona, said the award is a fitting way to celebrate the car’s completion.

“Now he can just go out and drive it and enjoy it,” she said.

Photos: The hottest cars at the Toronto auto show

In many ways for Young, the third try is a charm — his award-winning car is the third Cuda he has owned since he was 16. He purchased a 1973 Cuda while his dad was out of town on vacation.

“I saved my money. He went away on vacation, and I was still working, so when he came home, I had the car in the driveway,” Young recalled.

“He was upset. I worked on it in my parents’ driveway. After it was painted and the motor was in it, my dad was beginning to be proud of it.”

After an accident that totalled the car a few months later, he began to save again. When he turned 18, he bought a 1974 Cuda.

His father told him he should get something more reliable, like a K-car, but he just couldn’t get the Cuda out of his mind.

“I was hooked,” he said. “With a pocketful of money, my eyes were already set on a 1974 Plymouth Cuda 340 cid with a 727 trans. And with my parents gone on vacation, and me staying home because I couldn’t get the time off work, I had my chance.”

Although his dad was angry, he began to accept his son’s love for the powerful car.

“I was 18 and I tore it all apart. I wanted to make it the fastest car on the street,” he said. “I had that for 13 years. I got married and we had our son and decided it wasn’t practical anymore, so we sold it.”

About a year later, Young spotted a 1971 Cuda for sale online, and purchased it in 2008 — his third Cuda.

“It needed restoration and body work,” he said. “A friend told me it would take a year-and-a-half and I decided I’d try it myself. So first thing I did, because the floor was smashed right out, I started the floor and realized it wasn’t that hard.”

Four-and-a-half years later, the car was completed.

The 383 engine has been brought back to life.

“It peaked at 455 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 457 lb.-ft. of torque at 4800 rpm and it got shoved through 1-3/4 headers to 2-1/2 TTI exhaust,” Young said.

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