When your family has lived on a piece of land since the 1800’s, you tend to collect a few things. Bob Munoa has had an amazingly interesting life not only because he is a Pechanga American Indian, but also because he was a Captain 2 fireman of nearly 30 years for the Los Angeles City Fire Department. He’s seen and done a lot in his life, but knows a lot about something you might not expect – 1960’s Mopars.
Munoa’s compound near Temecula, California (off of I-15 and 60 miles north of the San Diego inland area) benefits from often dry air and not much rain that helps to limit the rust accumulation on his various automotive finds. His collection is vast with a focus on Max Wedge era Mopar metal, his favorite cars built in 1965 despite a love of Road Runners and other Mopars near that decade. But he does not limit his passion for performance to simply classic cars as the 2018 Hellcat Challenger and brand new 2019 B5-Blue Red Eye Challenger that greeted us on arrival will attest.
“You wouldn’t think that 90 more horsepower would make much of a difference,” notes Munoa of the horsepower difference between the Hellcat and Red Eye, “But you can definitely feel it.” He laughs. “I had not planned to buy the Red Eye, but when the opportunity came to buy one at MSRP instead of paying the normal premium on top of MSRP (which is common in the California area) I jumped on it.”
Can you blame him?
Munoa would certainly know a lot about fast car from years of racing and building high performance engines. During our tour of his land and buildings, we witnessed several under-construction restorations and racecars that he has built with his sons and daughters. Case in point is the 1965 Barracuda coupe raced by his daughter, Amanda, at the Muscle Cars at the Strip event last spring in Las Vegas, Nevada. With ‘a 12.15-dial in’ written on the window, the little 410-cid small-block-powered Plymouth is much faster than one might presume on first review. Her first time behind the wheel racing in the Street and Foot-Brake classes in Las Vegas was considered a great success by more than just her proud dad.
But Munoa’s daughter, Amanda, is not alone in her racing exploits. His daughters, Emily and Fran, also having lots of race experience, the latter competing every year at the same Las Vegas event as her sister’s in the family Dodge Charger that runs 13.50’s. Munoa’s son RJ, is an excellent racer, the highlight of his racing career was a win in Nostalgia Super Stock class in Las Vegas in 2009. In addition his nephew, Aaron, drives a very cool ’64 Dodge in competition. With the Munoas, racing is in their blood.
Along with lots of helping hands to sort them out, Bob’s collection of cars and parts is obviously very impressive. Everywhere we looked, the parts bins were filled to overflowing and parts of all kinds lined the shelving. One specific section of note was a line of plastic bins labeled “’63 Max Wedge.” Munoa explained that the parts were from Munoa’s original 19,000-mile Dodge that is undergoing a full restoration.
But rare parts are the norm here including such rare items as push button automatic transmissions, original Carter carbs, classic fuel injector systems, Dana 60 rear ends and much more. Throughout the various barns and warehouses that we visited we witnessed a history of Mopar racing . . . and then we went outside.
“I’ve been collecting original Mopar sheetmetal for a long time,” says Munoa, stating the obvious as we step into the backyard. “I’ve worked to keep the original parts in good shape so that when I build a car, the parts fit together in a factory way. I even figured a way to take original floor pans and slip them into the cars as one piece, rather than having to slice those into two halves like most folks have to do.
Continues Munoa, “Keeping an original sheet metal supply is important, even through the new reproduction Auto Metal Direct parts I have used are really quite good if I don’t have the right part for a build. For guys looking for parts, I do sell to the public but I don’t ship – they have to come here and buy it from me. I’m not a dealer.”
In review there are a few things that are “givens” about the amazing cars and parts in Munoa’s collections. The collection will grow, regardless of how many parts he sells to the many Mopar fans who need his parts and that his family, and their families, will build classic Mopars together for generations to come on their ancestor’s land.
You can count on both for certain.
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