Believe it or not, I actually started out my gearhead life as a Chevy man. At the influential age of fourteen, I was privileged to live across the street from Featherlight Modified Champion Bob Polverari when he was starting up his successful hobby of driving modifieds. I learned the workings of a small block Chevy and how to build the old coupe modifieds back in 1969. He still races today in the Northeast at the age of 65 and is a close friend to this day.
Well, in 1973 it came time to talk the parental concerns into buying my first car. I immediately went to used Chevelle SS's, but my dad would have nothing of it from a private party. He was strictly a dealership man wanting warranties and service. I did have an uncle, at that time, that was a mechanic for a large Chevy dealer but we always ended up with my cousin who was a salesman for the local Chrysler/Plymouth. PLYMOUTHS! GAD! My parents drive Plymouths! Please don't make me drive a Plymouth, I'll be embarrassed!
Well anyway, under protest and hiding my face so my friends couldn't see me, we ended up at the dealership. My cousin understood my dilemma, thinking my dad wanted me in something practical-like a 4-door Valiant. But he brought out a used 1969 Road Runner. It was B5 blue with a white vinyl top, white and blue bucket seat interior (six-way seat also), air grabber with black-out stripes, magnum wheels and most importantly, a warranty. It looked good, ran good, and $1,200 later, I took it home and became a Mopar man.
[As a side bar, my cousin was the salesman for the only SuperBird sold at that dealership and he remembers who he sold it to. So if you happen to know your blue SuperBird came from West Springfield Chrysler/Plymouth in West Springfield, Mass., I know who your original salesman was and who bought it originally. He also said that it sat on the lot a long time and the owner of the dealership, Ted Milton, offered a steak dinner to the salesman and his family-at the best restaurant-to whoever sells that "eyesore on the lot"! Well, it went for almost cost and he says he can't remember ever getting the steak dinner.]
I owned numerous Mopar muscle cars through the years, but gave up on cars around the 1980's, when resto parts were nil and hoarding of parts was the norm. Although, to this day, I regret letting go of my last muscle car then. It was a 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T SE, 440+6 4-speed, 1 of 135 built and I used to show it extensively with my close friend Harland Avezzie, who had a twin to mine in the Hemi version, 1 of 23 made. Bad move, but life goes on.
In 1999, I decided to get back to muscle cars, seeing how the parts supply of resto parts were growing by leaps and bounds. I always wanted to get back into a '69 B-Body, still feeling bad about trashing that Road Runner back in high school. I can't believe I threw out that big ugly air cleaner for that cool Cal Custom chrome one, not to mention those ugly exhaust manifolds, clutch fan, wheels, etc., all in the name of cool. (Don't laugh, you know we've all been there!) So anyway, being well established in life and career, I felt I could afford the big boy Plymouth B-Bodies-the GTX-and started scouring the country for my new ride.
My quest took me to Red Wing, Minnesota where I was informed of a clean red and black '69 GTX that was used only in the summer and to go to shows and cruises. I contacted the owner, Pete Carrol, and he kindly sent me all the pics and info on his ride, including a copy of the fender tag. Decoding it to see if it matched the pics, I informed him that it should have a white vinyl top, which was now black, and some sort of pewter interior, which was also now black. But it was R6 Scorch Red and in very good shape for the price range and, after a weekend trip up there from Florida for a road test and closer verification, I had it loaded on a trailer and sent to Florida-done deal.
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Further research on the tag with Galen Govier told me that this vehicle was a pretty rare combination with the seldom used pewter interior, and consequently took Legendary Interiors six weeks to even get the material to remake it. As of this writing, Galen has documented that this is the only known GTX with this combination, although there is a 1969 1/2 Road Runner and a 1969 Road Runner known to have a pewter interior in R4 and R6 red cars, respectively, neither of which has a white vinyl top. It was more common to see it in silver or black cars and is a 1969 option only.
The car turned out to be a tranny-matching car only, with a 1970 440 installed after the original motor got ventilated years ago. Diligence has traced the vehicle back six owners to roughly 1982 where the trail dries up. One owner, Jerry Ator of Oquawka, Illinois, bought the car off a bulletin board at the F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming while he was stationed there. He thought the guy was from Texas but the trail went cold. So if anyone you know was stationed at the F.E. Warren AFB in Wyoming around 1980-1983, and remembers an owner of a 1969 red GTX with a white vinyl top and a pewter interior, or probably faded to yellow by then, please contact me with any leads.
I stayed in contact with Jerry Ator, hoping he might find some info on it since he insisted that he usually kept info on such things. He did come up with an old license plate he thought was on the car, but after tracing it back with the DMV in Wyoming, it was found to be off a 1972 Challenger he once had. Dead-end again. After about six months of calls to Jim just checking to see if anything came up, something did. He found a build sheet he thought belonged to my car and after checking the VIN, it was! All was forgiven to this man for being the dead end on the trail when he produced that build sheet. Before he sent it to me, I had him copy it in case the original got lost. A smart move anyone should do before having someone send an important document such as this, but it arrived safely and was in pristine condition.
All equipment was confirmed original to the car except that it seemed to be missing the fender-mounted turn signals that were coded L31 on both the tag and the build sheet. The fenders were obviously changed some time in it's life and they were never put back on at that point. A new set was purchased from Dennis Mullen at Kruisin Moons (814) 255-7993 and I am now in the process of spotting them in the proper location.
One code that stood out on the build sheet, and probably answered the question of the weird color scheme, was the Y13 build code. This car was one of 28 non-air-conditioned 1969 GTX's made as a Dealer Demonstrator. Another call to Galen confirmed that this was not only the only pewter and red GTX known, it was the only Dealer Demonstrator GTX known! This car continues to become more rare every time someone looks at it and I must thank Marty Wadell of Illinois for being the man to hide this color combination for all those years. You see, he painted the car around 1987 and also dyed the interior black and installed a new black vinyl top on it. Since most of us weren't into the numbers game thirteen years ago as we are today, its unusual history and combination have stayed hidden until now.
I'm sure there are plenty of other Mopar muscle cars around that when you start to decode them you'll find a whole 'nuther animal under the skin! I see them everyday at car shows and never know which one might be a rare color combination or code such as this one. Another code that is peculiar to this vehicle is the V68 code for the stripe. It's deleted! Someone actually deleted a N/C stripe! It was free! Very strange. And it probably would have looked nice with the original white stripe tires also coded for this car. I did put the stripes on before I found the build sheet and really didn't want to take them off since it makes the car look much better. I simply felt, at that time, since they were free it must have had them. Silly me, I should have known never say "musta been" with a Mopar.
This car, according to Galen, is 1 of 1,068 to have a clock installed instead of a tach or blank. Fairly low numbers to the 14,048 built. Niceties included Rallye steering wheel, magnum 500 wheels and light package. That was about it. This model didn't even include the low-end performance package so popular with this model which included 3.55 gears, 26" radiator and clutch fan. Very common stuff for a basic GTX but not this one. We've concluded that they wanted a performance car that mom wouldn't have totally thought was one, and with no air grabber or stripes and whitewalls, they might have gotten away with it with this one.
The car now resides in Titusville, FL and is used for occasional cruising and showing in the more prominent shows in FL such as Morosso and Don Garlits'. It was American Collector's Insurance car of the week on the Internet back in July and is the car chosen to be the #1 car for a new muscle car collector card series due out soon called Red Line. It's also used as an option on bank checks through www.checksyourway.com if you want a cool car on your checks, or you can send in a pic of your own. Rob Wolfe at Mopar Collector's Guide also raised an eyebrow on this car and would possibly like to do a feature on it at some time.
As with all of our cars, it's still always undergoing a resto on some area. I chose to do the car as a restification for longevity and the fact that it's driven often. The chassis was completely rebuilt using PST bushings everywhere front to rear and a one-step up .960 torsion bar set up was put on from Mopar Performance. Mancini Racing supplied the 6-quart oil pan and pickup, as well as the deep steel Mopar trans pan. Exhaust was supplied by Accurate LTD front to rear and I was more than pleased with their work. Their 14-gauge "H" pipe weighs a ton and lets no noise out forward and the fit was excellent. The recommended Magnaglow mufflers sound fantastic and are very distinct and different to the usual Hi-Po Flowmaster sound we all hear.
Stainless tips are also from Mancini. Every nut and bolt under this car that is not a specialty specific-use bolt has been changed to stainless steel. All of them, bar none! Fine Lines came through with the stainless fuel, brake and engine lines. Other companies used extensively were Year One, Paddock, Totally Auto, Kruisin Moons, Legendary Auto Interiors, Randy's Ring and Pinion, and a big thanks to our own Dave Patik and Performance Car Graphics. If you haven't used this company for your Mopar resto, you're not done with your interior by any stretch. Their heater control and dash work is second to none.
Mobil 1 synthetic is used throughout the engine, trans and rear, as well as in the power steering and brakes. The usual modern upgrades have also been used throughout including green axle bearings, Petronix ignition in the stock dual point (another excellent kit), electronic voltage regulator hidden under the factory cover, quartz clock, K&N filter and MP purple shaft cam. All nice upgrades without losing that factory look at the shows.
The broadcast sheet breaks down like this:
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