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A Multi-Millionaire through old Mopars

Two guys from Nimmons, ArkansasMany years ago students attended three room schools for grades one through eight. In the northeast corner of Arkansas one tried to contain Marion Todd and Ray Alexander. Marion is the subject of this article and Ray is the writer. Marion was a year behind me, which was of little impact during grade school, but tended to separate us in high school.

This area of Arkansas was farm country. It was a perfectly good swamp before being drained. Because we helped with the planting and harvesting, we attended school during July and August. During those warm months the school building was adding absolutely nothing to the carbon footprint. In winter, there was a coal-fired stove in each room for heat. In this environment, students actually failed and were forced to repeat a year or three. Grades one and two were in one room, three, four and five in another and six, seven and eight in that desperately sought-after third room.

The family car was not intended to transport students; we walked to grade school and for high school they had nifty yellow busses with numbers on them. Our ride was ten miles over the roughest roads you could imagine. After that ride we were very much awake.

1964 Plymouth seats

Marion retired from school in the eleventh grade and went to Phoenix starting work as a carpenter. Later, he went to the L. A. area and became a union carpenter. “I went to Pascagoula, MS and went to work for a company building houses. I was never called a carpenter, I was the material man. It had nothing to do with Madona. This job did not suit me. Since I was facing a mandatory draft, I joined the U.S. Navy. There I received electronics training that served me well.”

1964 Plymouth

Marion returned to Arkansas in the seventies and tried his hand at farming. There he began to dabble in old Mopars. Farming is a tough game especially for the small operator and about 1990 Marion decided to give it up. He sold all of his Mopars, built a cabinet shop at a different location and moved. He bought enough acreage to begin collecting in earnest. In one acquisition he paid $100,000 for three loads of “junk”, this “junk’’ yielded 95% of a 1964 Dodge hemi car. He has two identical 1964 Plymouth hemis, he put Hooiser slicks on one and M H on the other so he could tell them apart.

hemi and super stock engine


The doors on the one in his home garage shut with unbelievable precision. He said, “You would not believe what I go through to achieve alignment of body parts.”

About three years ago we reestablished contact. I had a 2006 Dodge Charger SRT8 and he had a SRT8 Challenger on order. His Challenger has a crack in the windshield. He bought a replacement from the factory for collector correctness. If you buy his car and do not seek a remedy for the windshield, he will keep the new one.


During a conversation about drag racing, I commented that I wish manual transmissions in cars were constant mesh like motorcycles. This design allows one to up shift under full power without using the clutch. Marion countered with, “If you grind half the teeth off the syncros, the transmission will shift fairly well under power, but you need to hold the shift lever when you back off or it will jump out of gear.”



I think I have him talked into coming to “Mopars at the Strip” next year. He doesn’t know what car he will bring; it will not be the Challenger. He claims the Challenger is the slowest car that he owns.

In his shop there are ten engines ready for build. These are either hemis or max wedges, not a small block in the bunch. Forged cranks are in these bins. Original Mopar super stock parts are everywhere. Wait a damn minute, how did this 455 Buick engine get in here?

golden lion

He also has hemi drag boat engines. In his paint shop there is a rotisserie for frame off restorations. At first glance one might question organization, but he knows where everything is. It helps to look at this as four separate shops: body restoration/paint; engine build; seats/windows/trim; and final assembly.

“When Richard Petty was busy winning 200 NASCAR races he switched between the Hemi and the wedge. When restrictions became too tight on one he switched to the other. Why is NASCAR still using carbureted engines?”

river house

Marion is currently building a new house on the river. He thinks the garage will hold five cars, I think it will hold more. The garage also has a storm cellar. He is working 6 am to noon on the house, he is anxious to get back to the shop, the shop has A/C. He has one guy helping him build the house. He certainly does not live as if he knows the value of his possessions. He plans to complete his life fishing and working on cars.

the river

Marion is going to begin selling some of his collection. So if you see something you want you can contact me at [email protected]. Don’t ask about the AMC Javelin, if he doesn’t restore it, I want it.


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