Posts Tagged ‘426’

1967- Dodge and Plymouth

October 23, 2012

  The introduction of the Dodge Charger in 1966 was a success for Dodge, so in 1967 it received minor improvements.  The most obvious was the elimination of its full length interior console that gave it seating for only 4 people.  Getting in and out of the rear seat was the “big” complaint that Dodge chose to deal with.  With the optional front seat flip down armrest the Charger could actually seat 6 now.  The exterior now received the Coronets new side indents as well and front fender indicators for the turn signals mounted on the leading edge of the fenders.  The 426 Hemi was added to the option list during the “66” run and continued to be an option.  It added $712 to the Chargers base price of $3128.  Due to the steep price only 117 were ordered with the Hemi.

The 361 was eliminated and in its place the 383 was offered and new to the engine choices as well was the new 440.  Having sold 37,300 Chargers in 1966, the 1967 model was a disappointment as far as sales and only 15,788 were produced.  Clearly the similarity with the AMC Marlin as well as the Chargers overall “puffed up styling” was not winning over the “Performance Crowd”.  Restyling was in order for 1968.

  The Coronet continued with minor changes including the aforementioned side indents.  The executives at Chrysler decided that other than the Charger they would limit the availability of the “Street Hemi 426”.  The official stance was the Hemi would only be available in the “Letter-Series” vehicles.  That meant the R/T series package for the Coronet.  Despite this there were several Coronet Deluxe built with the factory installed Hemi engine as well as at least 1 Coronet 440, 1 Coronet 500 and 55 Super Stock Drag vehicles known as WO23 models.  The 440 and 500 designation were merely trim level packages and had nothing to do with engine choices.  Some people believe since the 440 was an available engine choice that 440 models came with that engine but such was not the case.  The top engine for Coronet was to be the 383 unless the R/T package was ordered, but this was ignored in most cases and many Coronets received the larger engine.  An interesting fact on Dodge and Plymouth vehicles was their use of “fender tags” to indicate options used on their vehicles.  While Ford and GM only listed basic info on theirs Mopar would routinely use 2 or 3 added tags for “loaded” vehicles that help make them the easiest to authenticate even today.

The styling department did a total makeover for the Dodge Dart for 1967.  Now its 4th makeover since the model first came into being, the Dart had gone from Full-size to compact and now into the Pony Car segment.  Standard engine was the 170 slant 6 or optional 225 slant 6 engine.

V8 choices were the 273 small block or if you ordered the GT or GTS you could get the 340 or even the 383 in the model.  The Dart saw an increase in production from 112,900 in 1966 to 154,500 for 1967.

  At Plymouth they had the same engine restrictions on their Belvedere model as Dodge did on the Coronet.  Their Valiant was restyled since it was the “corporate clone” to the Dart.

Sales for the Belvedere/Satellite fell from 189,752 in 1966 to 148,080 in 1967.  Similar to the Coronets fall from 250,900 in 1966 to 184,200 in 1967.  Plymouth still managed to outsell Dodge as far as cars by over 210,000 vehicles.  636,893 compared to 410,088.

  The Plymouth Barracuda got restyled and sales went from 38,029 in 1966 to 62,534 in 1967.  The Barracuda was standard with a slant 6 cylinder engine but options included the 273 as well as the 340 and even the 383 with the right option package.  The “Fish” was clearly trying to take aim at the Mustang but by 1967 there was no way any “Pony Car” was taking the top seller title from the Mustang.  After all Mustang alone counted for 472,121 units built and sold for Ford in 1967.

Davey Boy


1966- The Dodge Charger Is Born

February 13, 2011

 The Plymouth Barracuda with its 273 cubic inch V8 was the Mopar answer to the Ford Mustang.  And technically it was the answer before anyone asked the question, since it came out 2 weeks before the Mustang.  But unlike the Mustang it did not come in coupe, convertible and fastback styles.  Only a fastback was used.  That combined with what was considered a less than attractive fastback body did not help it achieve domination in the area of sales.

It was of course based on the Valiant chassis and as such had limited choices as far as available power.  The Dodge division also wanted a fastback Muscle Car of their own, but Plymouth would not allow them to have one based on the Valiant/Dart chassis because it would be competing with the Barracuda.

The Belvedere for 1966 got fresh sheet metal and the big news was that the 426 Hemi engine had been tamed for street duty and was now available for purchase as an option.  The previous engines used in limited production and full size cars was now suitable for everyday use by anyone who wanted one.

The top of the Belvedere line was the Satellite and it got the Hemi as an option as well.  The 426 with its rated 425 horsepower was the most in a production engine for the 1966 model year.  And it was considered about 50 horsepower underrated.

During the Muscle Car Era this was a common occurrence due to manufacturers wanting to downplay their advantages over one another.  And to keep the watchful eye of Washington regulators off of them as well.  Car manufacturers were not supposed to be involved directly with racing and while GM did a good job of honoring the rule, Ford and Chrysler were still supplying engines and parts to NASCAR race teams as well as other venues such as SCCA.

The Dodge Coronet was the choice for its sponsored teams running NASCAR, but that was to change with the introduction of their newest model.  The new model was the Charger and it was based on the midsize Coronet platform and since the Hemi was available for the Coronet, it was available as an option in the Charger as well.

The Charger had a similar style to the AMC Marlin, but although the Marlin was a new model for 1965, the 1966 Charger was the first Muscle Car created as an actual Muscle Car.  Every previous model in Detroit had been either an option for an existing model or was already a model being produced.  The Marlin was a new model, but lacked the big block engine to claim itself a legitimate Muscle Car.  The Charger was created with the 318 as a base engine and then you could get a 383 big block or the new 1966 street Hemi 426.

While Dodge wanted a competitor for the Mustang, they had went to the far side of the scale and came up with a vehicle that was going to stake a serious claim as the King of Muscle.  The interior offered such options as a full length console which essentially gave you four bucket seats in the interior.  The rear armrest shown was an option and what you see is the “Deluxe” vinyl seating option here.

 The 426 Hemi gave new meaning to the term “big block” as it was the heaviest engine produced at the time or even since as far as gasoline engines are concerned.  The lightest engine was the Ford 427 which tipped the scales at around 650 pounds.  The Chevrolet big block rang up about 685 as a 396 engine.  And the 426 Hemi was overkill at an amazing 843 pounds.  It was called the “elephant” motor not just because of its weight but its size.  The heads were the widest ever seen due to the dual set of rockers for the valvetrain.  And the trademark giveaway and what makes it a hemi; the spark plugs are in the middle of the valve cover as you see in the photo.

Some of the styling similarity with the Marlin can be seen from the rear view of the Charger here.  The full width tail light lens had the “CHARGER” name across the full width lest someone think it was something else.

  The front view however would never remind anyone of the AMC Marlin or any other car.  Not even the Coronet that shared the underneath could match the Charger in the style department.  The grill look has been called the “electric shaver” grill.  Kind of looks like an older model Remington doesn’t it?

  Well, that’s the deal with the 1966 models.  See you soon for more.

 Davey Boy

1965- The Calm Before The Storm

February 5, 2011

 Back to the timeline for the Muscle Car Era.  1965 saw the redesign of the Ford Fairlane.  Despite the previous years Thunderbolt model, the bigwigs at Ford were slow to react to the Muscle Car challenge over at General Motors.  The top engine for the Fairlane remained a 289 small block.  Although it was a high performance version it was still a small block.

  While I do not claim to be psychic, my opinion is that Ford had enough success going on with the introduction of the Mustang and the Ford Galaxie was still the top dog on the NASCAR circuit.  They had won more races in NASCAR than their competition, but that was due to General Motors corporate ban on racing as much as anything.  Their 427 powered Galaxie was responsible for 23 wins in 1963, and 30 wins in 1964.  Ford had developed a new version of the 427 to counter the threat of the Mopar camp’s Hemi engine.  It was what is known as the “cammer” engine.  It used a hemi-style head configuration to develop even more power and had dual chain drives to run dual overhead camshafts.  Despite what Ford felt was a reply to the now legendary Hemi that Dodge and Plymouth were using, NASCAR banned the engine from use.  Ford protested since the reason NASCAR balked at the motor was that it was not a production engine.  After all, Mopar (Dodge and Playmouth) had been using the 426 Hemi even though it was never made available in any production car.  The result was that to be fair, NASCAR banned the Hemi as well.  Mopar promptly pulled out of NASCAR for the 1965 season and told all factory sponsored teams not to race.  To make a long story short attendance was down and interest waned so much that NASCAR relented and late July the Mopars returned to the track.  The damage was done and the Galaxie 427 ended up winning 48 out of the 55 races for the year.

The 1965 Galaxie 500 with a 427 R-code is pictured here.  While GM sat on the sidelines again at the race tracks of America, Ford was capitalizing where they could.  They had Carroll Shelby building enhanced versions of the Mustang to sell to the public.  Shelby had made a name in racing as a driver and an engineer, but his first claim to fame was taking the English AC Cobra and putting the 289 engine in it for racing.  His reasoning was that a reliable high performance American engine in the lightweight English bodied car was the secret to winning.  And by all accounts he was correct.  By 1965 he was making a version of the Cobra with the 427 as well.  The Cobra was dominant as one would expect.

  Shelby and Ford set their sights on the endurance races for 1965 and the Shelby Daytona Coupe was created.  It is not a Muscle Car because it was not a factory production car, even though Shelby Motors could be considered a manufacturer.  The reason it is included here is that this particular Daytona Coupe set the record for the highest price paid for an American car when it sold for $7,250,000.  That is 7 and a quarter million dollars.

This is a 1965 Ford Mustang production Fastback 2+2 in a rare “Coral” color. 

Here is a 1965 Shelby 350 with the 289 High Performance engine.  Shelby used additional upgrades to get even more power out of the 289 than the factory did.  After all if you paid extra for the car, buyers wanted more.

This rarely seen beauty….is a 1965 AMC Rambler Marlin with its 327 cubic inch engine.  You don’t find a lot of these around, as they were not big sellers and they were not on par with most of Detroit’s Muscle Cars.  But they do show that even AMC was starting to pay attention to what the performance market wanted.  After all AMC; or Rambler as they were known; was known for their boxy little economy cars.  The Marlin has been given credit for being the first “hatchback” ever made.  This one needs a paint job I would think.

The Marlin also had another first….it had front disc brakes as standard equipment.  A safety feature that all automobiles would have to have in the years ahead. 

Dodge redesigned the Coronet for 1965 and the yellow beauty here has the 440 CID engine. 

But the beast in the Muscle Car wars for 1965 was the Coronet with the 426 “Wedge” motor.  The engine did not like to idle and was not very suitable for everyday street use.  It was probably the thirstiest engine ever produced and getting 10 MPG meant you were probably driving in neutral down a steep hill.  But the Hemi version of the 426 was up to now only a racing engine because of the expense to build it.  That would change as the year went on and even the hemi engine became available in several models at Dodge.

At Plymouth the “sister” car to the Coronet was the Satellite and it was also available with the “Wedge” and later the Hemi.  Most of the Hemi powered vehicles that were produced in 1965 were actually converted by dealers who saw the potential for the performance market, and the resulting profit.  Anybody who has ever been in the New Car business will tell you that sales is not what drives a “Dealership”… it is the Service Department that pays the bills and makes the profit.  Even in 1965 you could buy the same car at another dealer so pricing was very cut-throat.

The 1965 Dodge Coronet also saw the model known as the 990.  This was a factory built race car just like what Ford had done with it’s Thunderbolt project earlier.  The difference was this had the Hemi 426 and was also available in an altered wheelbase which moved the rear axle several inches forward in the body for the drag strip.  It was one of the reasons why “wheelie-bars” are used on drag cars as the rear bumper would actually drag on the pavement when the vehicle launched if you did not back off the throttle to keep the front end on the ground.

So while 1965 may not have added much to the building Muscle Car Era it did set the stage for what would be coming as the Detroit automakers ratcheted up the street performance game.

So stay tuned for more on the next post.

 Davey Boy

New Investor’s -Here Is My Help On Picking A Car

June 25, 2010

  When I get asked the question of what someone should purchase for a first Muscle Car or investment grade collector car, I apologize to whomever asks the question.  The answer is one that is different for almost everyone and to give a proper answer I would need to ask you about a dozen questions just to get any clue for what would be your ideal car.

How mechanically inclined are you?  If you are a gifted mechanic with a garage full of tools and equipment then a project vehicle to build and put together yourself would be something to consider.  If you cannot change your own oil then you need something totally reliable and simple to operate.  If you are a normal person and fall somewhere in between these extremes then you would be suited for a vehicle that is already in road worthy condition and maybe needs a few finishing touches such as new carpet or seat covers, or maybe some exterior chrome replaced.

Next question would be what have you got to spend?  $20,000 or less and you can get a nice early pony car such as a Mustang.  Pick a straight 6 and you can get a convertible top.  Pick a nice 289 and you may find a fastback but odds are it would be the coupe.  The same money will get you a Cutlass with a 350 but not a 442.  Or a LeMans but not a GTO,  or a Skylark, but not a GS….although I have run across a few GS350’s with bench seats in the $20,000 range.

This 1969 Fury III shown here should also be a car in that price range.  With either a 383 or in this case a 440 for power it moves well for a large car and being a “fringe” Muscle car it is one of the least expensive Mopar models out there.

This 1966 Mustang with a 289 V8 and automatic trans is what the $20,000 can bring to you.

A 1969 Impala convertible with the standard 350 will also get you into a nice classic car but do not expect a SS Impala for $20,000.

So what if your price point is $30,000 ?  You now move into the territory for real choices in Muscle Cars.  A GTO or GS400, Chevelle SS396, Camaro, Mustang Mach I, and an occasional Mustang Shelby 350 with the 289.

Something like this 1965, maybe.  If you find the right-minded seller, that is.  There are also a few Mopars at the $30,000 range.  Cars like the Road Runner or the Charger or the Barracuda (not a ‘Cuda) or a Challenger.  Granted they won’t be Hemi cars and they won’t even be 440 vehicles.  But a 318 or the 340/360 are nice reliable powerplants and the body work is almost the same as their big block brethren, at least to anyone except the die-hard gear heads out there.  And a lot of the “clones” fall into this price point as well as some of the non numbers matching vehicles.

This nice numbers matching Camaro convertible with its 327 is probably in that range as well.  The sister vehicle to it a Firebird 400 would also be in that range.  Don’t expect to find too many SS396 Camaro’s or any early Trans Ams in this price point.

This 1970 Road Runner will probably be $35,000.  For the $40,000 price point you enter the realm of cars like a 442 and can even find convertibles for the money.

This 1971 Oldsmobile 442 convertible is an example of the type of car in the $40,000 range.  The GS 455 is also a great vehicle that can be bought for $40,000.  Certain options and engine combinations may be off your list but for the most part even my beloved Chevelle SS454 can be had.

Since I always have Chevelle in my blog posts I decided to show an interior photo for this one.  It is what the interior of a 1970 SS454 Chevelle would look like.  Buckets are a premium over bench seat and the floor mounted “stapler” shifter is also, but still available in the $40,000 price point.  Working air conditioning or even an air condition equiped model may be harder to find.

Remember that unless you are mechanically inclined you do NOT want to deal with multiple carburetor engines or engines that have been heavily modified for added horsepower.  Sticking with stock power plants also helps keep the cars value.

Speaking of value, the big question people ask is what will be the big value cars to hold onto for the next 5 years ?  The answer is if I knew, I’d have 10 of them sitting in storage right now.  There are several cars that are under valued right now and we can get into those…….in my next blog.

And in case you were wondering, every one of these cars shown in this blog are for sale at the next Mecum Auction in July over in Des Moines, Iowa.

Davey Boy