(Originally posted by Cookie The Dog's Owner on November 13, 2008.)
Submitted by John Boyle
I bought the car in 1998 and spent two years restoring it while I was living in Abilene, Texas. I had never owned a unique (that's a good word for a Barris car) car before so I went into the restoration with blind faith and a lot of luck. Luckily, I had just finished helping a friend restore my 1977 Jeep CJ-5 Levi's Edition Renegade, so I was much less a "babe in the woods"automotively speaking than I would have been a couple of years before.
We did all the work locally, with the exception of some brass refinishing and overhauling the brass radiator, which I sent to a specialist who restores high-dollar brass cars in California. I was the general contractor and, with my friend Charlie's help, put the car back together. Mechanically, it was sound--the Ford drivetrain really paid off. I changed the generator to a GM “one-wire” alternator, and had the master cylinder and carb rebuilt. I was able to walk into an auto parts store with a wheel cylinder and walk out 45 minutes later with a new set--try that with a real Bearcat! By comparison, I have a friend in the Stutz Club whose '18 Bearcat was off the road for two years while he sourced a starter. No such troubles with mine. (Knock wood.) The body is all metal and required only a repaint. I had new upholstery done and a new instrument panel made with new old-fashioned looking dials. The new wood wheels took a wheelwright in Oklahoma a year to fashion out of solid hickory. They came out great.