1969 Plymouth GTX

Though Ford dominated the 1969 NASCAR season. The 1969 Plymouth GTX remained a popular street machine, probably because the 1969 edition was the best yet. "Reverent racing men have long called it The Boss," blared a brochure headline. "This year it'll be 'Boss, sir.'"

1969 Plymouth GTX
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
The 1969 Plymouth GTX featured a new grille design.

Styling was tidied up in detail, and the basic Road Runner package of heavy-duty suspension/brakes/shocks, chrome engine parts, and unsilenced air cleaner was retained. GTX added heavy-duty battery, bright exhaust tips, red or white reflective stripes, foam bucket front seats in an all-vinyl interior-and, of course, the big 440.

Customers willing to wrestle with the options list had more choices than ever for 1969. For example, there was a new $55 item called the "Air Grabber." Contrary to many descriptions, this was not a hood scoop but an air vent.

Worked by an interior lever, it lay flush with the hood when closed, so as not to obstruct vision; opened, it admitted outside air, but could also feed underhood air if desired. Properly employed, the Air Grabber improved engine efficiency and performance.

As long as we're on the hood, optional flat-black paint returned from 1968, though rearranged to cover more square footage. Of greater interest was a $143 "Track Pak" comprising a manual four-speed with Hurst shifter, 3.54:1 heavy-duty rear axle, seven-blade viscous-drive fan, dual-breaker distributor, and Sure-Grip.

For the truly determined, a Super Track Pak ($256) gave you all that plus disc brakes and 4.10:1 rear axle. Drag racers loved it.

Prices were hiked again for 1969, though not as much as the year before, with the hardtop starting at $3,416, the ragtop at $3,635. Despite that, and the Road Runner's high popularity, GTX production remained stable. Convertibles were few, however: only 700 against 14,902 hardtops.

Three years of development had definitely improved the breed, which was good to begin with. Plymouth's late-Sixties mid-sizers were always relatively tight, well-built cars in an era not generally known for quality control. And they could be mighty fast, sometimes running away from formidable competition.

In a six-car comparison with the Ford Cobra 428CJ, Pontiac GTO 400, Chevelle SS 396, Buick GS 400, and Dodge Charger R/T 440, test driver Bill Sanders declared GTX "the flat-out best qualifier of all.

A 13.7-second, 102.8-mph quarter-mile, and 0-to-60 in 5.8 seconds testify to the super performance. . . . It turned in the best performance times in every category: acceleration, passing and quarter-mile acceleration. . . .

"Besides going great in a straight line," Sanders went on, "the GTX also handles tolerably. The built-in understeer is slight on normally twisting roads and becomes pronounced [only] in extremely tight maneuvering."

But the stiff suspension had its penalties, as it usually did on big American cars. Sanders said it "created a tendency for the GTX to hop around corners, rather than taking tight turns flat and level."

His tester also had the super-short 4.10:1 axle-"rather low for extended freeway or open highway driving, turning the engine at 4500-5000 rpm at 65-70 mph." Low indeed! It also contributed to poor gas mileage: about nine miles for every 30-cent gallon of premium.

On the next page, we detail the 1970 Plymouth GTX.

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