To start off, I want people to know this
This website and the stuff that I post is about a journey I had thru life. not meant to be about me or boasting about my life. I feel very lucky to have been able to use muscle cars to grow my life and to experience life. there was nothing easy about any of it. hunting cars , learning how to build cars with little to no parts or having to restore every part before you can use it. Older men taught me this and that’s what the site is about. How there was a time you couldn’t look up on the net and buy a new part. the men that I grew up with and where around built things from scratch. This is my way of honoring the men that had passion to get the job done or teach someone else how to get it done. The beginning of hot rods race cars and muscle cars , it was not easy to rebuild these cars and find parts for them. I myself spend months and months looking for parts to finish a job.
The things I plan to post and videos I plan to share are about that hunt and about meeting those men.
The Cuda Bill Story
My beginning with cars started when I was about 7 or 8 years old. It was when my father was re-building a Model A at our home in Dover, Delaware; I picked up a hammer for the first time and told my father that I wanted to help. Little did I know that I would end that day with my front tooth being chipped and at that time I had no idea that hammers could actually bounce back after hitting a floor pan. My father laughed and said, “Son, if you’re going to be a mechanic you best expect to get hurt now and then”. So much to my surprise within no time flat, I was learning to work on old cars.
Now in this same time from of the early seventies, my mother started taking me to NASCAR races. When the races where over we would always wait till the track was clear and the pit gates opened. Then we would walk down to the pits and hang out with a friend of my moms. Seams my mom was good friend with Glen Wood. She was born and raised in Critz VA. The town next to Stuart VA was one of the most recognized NASCAR race team was born (the wood brothers). It was in this same time frame that mom became friends with a group of people from those two little towns in the mountains that love cars and racing as mom would say it (there wasn’t much else to do, It was the late fifties) It happened that glen wood would go on to build a race team and become a member of the NASCAR hall of fame. Of coarse, I did not know this while I only 8 or 9 yrs old at the time. But for me, I was running up and down the pits climbing on David Persons and the wood brother car and checking out all the early drivers of NASCAR. In those days kids could do anything and drivers and teams enjoyed it. I got to meet Richard Petty many times and Cale Yarborough. Also anytime we went to critz to visit grandmom we would drive by the wood brothers shop further up the mountain to see what they where building and of coarse for mom to see old friends.
This was probably the beginning of my need for speed. To me at the time these cars where badass and just really fast and I loved them. We spent every summer twice a year at Dover downs watching the race and then going to the pits to see the wood brother
After my grandfather (in delaware)pasted away in 1977, we moved to the old family home in Smyrna, Delaware. That’s where my father and I began building an M38 a1 Military Jeep. I was now at the age of 12 learning how to “ Sand Blast “ parts, paint parts and also fight rusty old car parts by using good ol’ Coke A Cola. My father eventually found me a 1946 Willys CJ 3-B. I worked on that jeep day and night. I couldn’t get enough of the satisfaction that I felt after I accomplished each task. I kept telling myself that if I worked on this Jeep every chance I get I could hopefully have it up and running by the time I was 16. This way I would have a vehicle I could call my own and something to drive. I loved that old Willys Jeep. I drove it everywhere.
That was the beginning of “ CUDA BILL” all my bumps, bruises, scratches and everything else that goes along with turning/cranking a wrench with dad and going to the races with mom. I didn’t know it at the time but my course in life was set.
I eventually learned that my long awaited CJ 3-B Willys and that old f head 4 cyl. Motor topped out at a top speed of 55, and that was really working that long stroke motor. Plus all my friends at school had muscle cars. So that day came, my no-good luck day came. I wanted to go faster and I pushed the RPM’s on my Jeep and blew up that old F head. I was forced to park the Willys.
Hard lesson learned.
It was after that I was walking home with a friend of mine one day after school to help him work on his 65 Chevy 2. As we took a short cut to his house where it was my fate, my lust, my beauty A roached out 1971 Big Block Plymouth Cuda hiding in a back yard with flat tires and cooked paint job, it was a triple black car, (black exterior, black interior and a black vinyl top with a big block and a automatic trans. And the widest Cragar rims I had ever seen.
From there what can I say, I was hooked. I begged my mother and father to let me sell my Jeep so I could purchase the Cuda
From here on out this is where it really all began and my love for Mopar’s and Real Muscle Cars.
I began to start street racing. Of course blowing up the motors and having to re-build it. Then the Trans went. By then I became pretty good at building and taking apart engines. Especially on old cars, cars that wanted or needed more speed or as I like to say “Muscle”. So you could almost faithfully find me on a Friday or Saturday night somewhere on route 9 racing. That is where I truly earned the name “Cuda Bill”.
I had no idea at this point in my young life where all this was heading. I always had the urge to do more to the car and the urge to re-build engines to make them faster but at the same time make that engine sparkle and stand out all on its own. I was lucky enough to meet a lot of guys and some females around Smyrna that pitched in and helped me make things bigger and better. At that time I was the only “Mopar muscle car in high school, as a kid. For some reason I was always up against Fords and Chevy’s with just a little success on the very little money I had at the time.
My two biggest passions in high school where Photography and Old muscle cars. many weekend where spent at the track either racing or taking pictures of racecars.
After graduating high school in 1983, I worked various odd jobs wrenching on vehicles and made a few attempts working at car dealerships. The only thing I got out of working at dealerships was my ASE certs. Plus working on new vehicles wasn’t a challenge for me. I needed more, I wanted more; there was more inside me that needed to come out. I spent all my down time building the Cuda to get ready to go to the local race tracks. I really didn’t have much luck with that. But I can say I gave it my all (well what I thought was my all) at that time and it just wasn’t enough.
I decide to branch out on my own and see what I could do. I knew I wanted to build, re-build motors and transmissions. That’s where I saw my dollar signs. Through out all this time I was collecting and stocking up on all types of Cuda parts and really any type of Mopar part I could get my hands on everything and anything.
In 1987 my at that time girlfriend, which eventually became my wife, became pregnant. So now this is where the rubber hit the road and I had to become more serious about things. Not only was I working for myself and girlfriend, I now had to put a unborn child into the mix. I learned fast how to juggle becoming “Cuda Bill” the mechanic and “Cuda Bill” the father.
I heard of a car show in Englishtown, NJ. That was the first ever Mopar Nationals East, at Old Bridge Township also known as NHRA Englishtown Raceway Park. It was a swap meet and racing all in one on the weekends. I threw everything I needed into a truck and took off to NJ. That weekend, after everything, I came home with $6000.00 after selling Mopar parts and of course Cuda parts. “I WAS HOOKED” it was from that moment on I knew what I had to do. Seeing that there were old Mopar’s all over Delaware, which at the time people considered junk, well those old car parts became my fortune. Just like the old saying “One man’s junk is another man’s dream”. I started buying every muscle car part I could find. Learning how to strip cars to sell and how to take the best of stuff and re-build cars for sale..
I started out as “Bill’s Muscle Cars & Parts” in 1988.I got my first real shop in Clayton,De. I was doing body work to motor jobs or other things people needed done. With Clayton being such a small town the ones that had lived there for years looked at my little shop as a junk yard. They didn’t see or understand the process of re-building cars. They just saw old junk cars and parts. Not seeing what becomes. Eventually I got kicked out of Clayton.
From there I moved to a bigger place out on a highway. I was in that shop for about 3 years. The rent was outrageous and had me working 7 days and it felt like 24 hours a day. Being on the highway did generate business for me. People could see what I was doing from the highway and they became curious so that led them to stopping in and asking questions. A lot of men thought it was a cool idea working on muscle cars and trying to bring them back. During that time I met a lot of Mopar guys and learned even more. I was lucky enough to get an old school teaching from the men that raced and drove them the way they were meant to.
Eventually I had to re-locate again. This time I found an old pickle plant. That was turned into a mini storage center. With this I would now the space. I was finally able to take all my learning and abilities learned and really put them to use. I began collecting more car parts. Everything I could get my hands on. This was it; this was the space I needed. In 1991 I opened “Muscle Cars Inc.” This was a full restoration shop. By this time the internet was taking over so I began to advertise the business for “Muscle Car Restorations & Mopar Parts”. Needlessly to say from there I was swamped in work. The next few years of my life just ran all together. I had Mopar’s and Cuda’s everywhere and with more parts then I really needed. I was doing at least 8 car shows/swap meets a year. Running a 13 car restoration house and at any giving time having 4 to 6 cars going on at one time, my life was busy. Remind you all the while I was running a business and by then now a father of 3 daughters and on my second marriage. My little ladies became my little helpers around the shop. They all also became really good at working on the old car with me.
The “CUDA CRAZE” hit in the early 1998’s, and I was doing pretty well selling Cuda clones into projects thru E-Bay. And that’s when things started to become out of control, so to speak. I couldn’t find enough restoration mechanics with talent. I was doing both, running the office and also doing cars. At one point I had 9 e bodies being restored at one time. This was no easy task.
My girls were all hitting their teenage years, which required more of my time. It was as if I wasn’t ever home long enough to help them with their problems. So yep, you guessed it … everything comes to an end. After years of long hours and not being at the house enough in 2003 I ended up getting my second divorce. That threw me into a major bankruptcy and so was the end of the big restoration house.
So again it was time to start over. I went to work for the state fixing and repairing buses. where I ended up damaging a knee badly. after surgery and covid. I am now semi retired and plan to put all my passions into enjoy some of the best parts of my life growing up,. and that was car shows, racing, exploring the car world again in todays culture and having kick ass conversations with the men and women that enjoyed the early days of hot rods and muscle cars
I am a open book, and I tell you all this because I always get asked
“WHAT HAPPENED” Now you can read what happened and although there is so much more that happened between the lines. this tells it in a nut shell.
I don’t regret one thing. What does not kill us , makes us stronger. Recently someone said to me
“dam you kind of did it the hard way didn’t ya“
all i can do it laugh at that. we didn’t know another way back then. I was a small town guy with a high school education and well I had to make money and wanted to do what I loved.