Chris Zieman's 1971 Plymouth Hemi 'Cuda Convertible
(from Volume 16, Issue 178)

Looking at the final product, it is hard to imagine that when Chris Zieman found this car in the hills of Tennessee back in 2000, the owner at the time had it sitting in his back yard with the front clip missing and a bullet hole in the transmission. It is unknown when the car was shot at, but it appeared to be a 30-30 rifle round, which is popular in the area. We’re not sure if it was mistaken for a deer or not, but you never know in moonshine country.

Chris then had the car transported to Aloha Automotive in Port Washington, Wisconsin. It was originally intended to be a Mopar sponsored show car, traveling the show circuit upon completion, and be the basis for a limited production offering from Aloha Automotive after that. Among the many ambitious aspects that were to have been incorporated into the build were a stretched Viper chassis and suspension, 5.7 liter Hemi sporting a Kenne Bell supercharger to produce 750 horsepower, 6-speed transmission, custom steel body panels, and a modern sculpted leather interior. That was in 2003, and after about two years of waiting for the final approval from DaimlerChrysler, which never happened, Chris then decided to take the project in another direction, and gave the go ahead to Aloha Automotive to start work. The build took about a year to finish and for Chris to take delivery. Then he spent the next couple of years working out some bugs, detailing and fine tuning to get it just how he wanted.

Though it is now a 1971 Hemi ‘Cuda convertible, it came from Plymouth with a 383 and automatic transmission. It has a black vinyl convertible top to match the black interior, along with Curious Yellow paint and a long list of upgrades.

Most people’s attention ultimately turns to what resides under the hood. There you’ll find a 511 cubic inch John Arruzza built Hemi, with a Mopar Street Hemi cast iron block which was fully race prepped, and Stage 5 Engineering aluminum heads that have been ported and polished for maximum flow. Inside is a Callies full radius 4.5 inch stroker crankshaft, Eagle premium H-beam connecting rods, Diamond 11:1 compression pistons with full floating pins, and hand file fit Childs and Albert Dura Moly rings. The rotating assembly was balanced on a Hines Electronic machine, and “knife edge balanced” instead of drilling holes to balance the crank. The bump stick is a Comp Cams .572 solid camshaft designed by Herb McCandles, which actuate Smith Brothers chrome moly push rods, double coil valve springs with 10 degree super locks and retainers, Norris stainless steel rocker arms, and Keith Black hard chromed rocker shafts. The engine is topped off with a stage five dual quad intake, and a pair of custom built 785cfm Holley carbs. The whole assembly pumps out about 700 horsepower through a Keisler 5-speed manual transmission with a double disc clutch and a rated scatter shield. Power is applied to the ground through a Dana 60 rear end with 3.54:1 gears and a Power Loc posi unit.

The suspension up front is a Control Freaks fabricated K member with rack and pinion steering, tubular upper and lower control arms and coil over shocks. The rear suspension has had the springs relocated inward to allow clearance for the larger rear tires that now reside on the sure-footed ‘Cuda.

Chris Zieman has been a Mopar guy since the late 60’s, and along with his Hemi ‘Cuda convertible he has an orange 1971 440 Six Pack Cuda - which is known as a “Halloween Car” due to the orange paint and black interior. Chris has also owned many other cool cars over the years, including a rare Plum Crazy 1970 Hemi Challenger R/T S/E Track Pack car, which was one of four built. Obviously all of these cars are hard not to notice, which is why his ‘71 Hemi ‘Cuda grabbed our attention during our recent Beach Blast car show in Cocoa Beach. Once the color gets your interest, the Hemi under the hood seals the deal. CN