1971 Plymouth GTX

The 1971 Plymouth GTX would prove to be the car's finale. Unfortunately, sterling track performances weren't influencing muscle-car sales.

Plymouth's intermediate body styling was entirely new that year, with two-door coupes and hardtops somewhat different from four-door sedans and wagons. Chrysler said they all had "Fuselage Styling," but two-doors wore it best, helped slightly by a 115-inch wheelbase, an inch trimmer than before.

1971 Plymouth GTX
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
The 1971 Plymouth was completely restyled. Most noticeable was the new "fuselage" styling, which came on an inch-shorter 115-inch wheelbase for two-doors.

Featured were a semi-fastback profile with curved side glass, shapely nose, thick rear quarters, and massive bumpers -- or, as one source described it, "down-swooping curved panels and blending sail panel treatments [with] the impression, created by feature lines, of the mid-body wrapping over the lower body."

The sportiest mid-size 1971s were all two-door hardtops: Satellite Sebring, Sebring-Plus, Road Runner, and GTX. The Sebring was nothing more than a well-trimmed version of a new pillared Satellite coupe, with bright metal accents and foam front seat cushions.

Sebring-Plus added vinyl front buckets or a cloth/vinyl bench with center armrest, plus special wheel covers. Road Runner was priced close to Sebring-Plus and had all-vinyl seats, full carpeting, floorshift, heavy-duty suspension, the "beep-beep" horn (naturally), extra gauges, a "performance hood," standard 383 V-8, and noisy exhausts.

This left GTX again atop the price-and-performance hill -- and at $3,733 its price was loftier. Alas, the standard four-barrel 440 was down five horses and the four-speed was gone completely, but TorqueFlite was again included, along with vinyl or cloth/vinyl buckets, low-restriction dual exhausts with chrome tips, dual horns, heavy-duty suspension and brakes, and raised white-letter tires.

No-charge options ran to whitewall tires, floorshift three-speed manual, and a cloth/vinyl front bench with center armrest. Extras remained plentiful: Air Grabber hood vent, $23; backlight louvers, $68; matte-black "performance hood," $18; hood pins, $17; new "Strobe tape stripes cascading from C-pillars to rear fenders, $30; power door locks, $47, power steering, $111; and power windows, $110.

The Street Hemi, still quoted at 425 bhp but surely a tad weaker, remained available at a tall $747. So too, the 440+6, though it also lost a nominal five horses. Carelessness with the options sheet could boost a 1971 GTX to well over $5,000, though such cars are extremely rare.

1971 Plymouth GTX
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
For the 1971 Plymouth GTX, simulated wood graced the interior and the speedometer and tach were directly in front of the driver.

Collectors understandably gravitate toward earlier GTXs, and convertibles in particular, but the 1971s cannot be ignored. Plymouth built only 2,942 of them, compared to over 14,000 Road Runners and nearly 50,000 Sebrings. (The Sebring-Plus was almost as rare at 3,020.)

So the 1971 GTX must be considered collectible, not only as the last of its line but for scarcity. A GTX package -- which included the 280-bhp four-barrel 440 -- was a Road Runner option in 1972.

In retrospect, it's probably just as well that the GTX story ends when it does. Unlike other muscle machines that were tamed as safety and smog regulations piled up, the GTX always offered undiluted performance, which it surely would have lacked had it continued.

Unless you count the later mid-size Road Runners (which lasted through 1975, when horsepower was down to just 150 net), the GTX was the last truly high-performance Plymouth.

Nowadays, there's nothing remotely like the GTX in Chrysler-Plymouth showrooms. Then again, there is nothing like it in any showroom. Its time is long past.

On the next page, we offer specs on the iconic 1967 Plymouth GTX.

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