1967-1971 Plymouth GTX


The 1967-1971 Plymouth GTX was Plymouth's muscle car warrior. Introduced in 1967, the well-equipped Belvedere boasted plenty of cubes with the 440 Super Commando V-8 and a mighty 426 Hemi.

For the 15 years between 1955 and 1970, Plymouth did mean Performance -- and the capital "P" is intentional. The first Plymouth V-8 arrived for 1955; one year later, a modified version powered the hot, limited-edition Fury.

Classic Cars Image Gallery

1967 Plymouth GTX
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
Exterior styling of the 1967 Plymouth GTX was surprisingly muted, though what was under the hood wasn't. See more classic car pictures.

In the Sixties, Plymouth launched the Barracuda, which eventually mounted a small challenge to Ford's Mustang in the ponycar field; resurrected the famed Hemi V-8, which was simply unchallenged for street performance; and scored big with the Road Runner, America's first "budget" muscle car.

For 1970, Plymouth unleashed the Superbird, a wildly winged Road Runner designed mainly for stock-car racing.

And there's another point: From 1959 through 1972, Plymouth was among the top four makes in the manufacturer point standings in the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR). In 1971, the Superbird gave Plymouth the NASCAR championship, winning 21 of 38 Grand Nationals.

Many street Plymouths in these years could be equally impressive. Off the showroom floor, for relatively little money, you could choose from a whole fleet of hot performers, from nimble Formula S Barracudas to burly bucket-seat, big-inch Sport Furys.

Yet all this had developed very quickly. Don MacDonald, in his test of the new-for-1967 GTX, recalled that only a dozen years earlier, Ford had been the only low-priced car with a V-8: "Plymouth has come a long way from the days when the three sails from the Pilgrim-carrying Mayflower were the symbol of its power and speed."

On the next page, we look at the Plymouth GTX's engine and design.

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Plymouth GTX Engine and Design

The Plymouth GTX engine and design were quintessential muscle car, spun off Plymouth's sportiest mid-sizer -- the relatively light, bucket-seat Satellite -- but equipped with the make's hottest V-8s: the "Super Commando" 440 wedgehead and the already legendary 426 Hemi.

1967 Plymouth GTX Hemi
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
This 1967 Plymouth GTX hardtop has the Hemi with dual Carter AFB carbs (above) and four-speed manual, one of only 313 GTXs so equipped. Another 406 had the Hemi and TorqueFlite.

Born at the height of Plymouth's performance career, the GTX also benefited from an upbeat period in Plymouth styling, when clean, taut lines replaced the tailfins and sci-fi grilles of recent memory.

The GTX's corporate B-body (shared with Dodge) was then but a year old, having debuted at Plymouth for 1966's Belvedere/Satellite line. And incidentally, the official name in 1967 was Belvedere GTX, though hardly anyone, including Plymouth advertising, ever bothered with anything but the initials.

The Super Commando 440 was the usual engine in street GTXs; interestingly, it was too big to qualify for NASCAR or USAC competition, which was where the Hemis mostly played.

Of course, you could also find the 440 in two-ton Chryslers and Imperials after 1965 -- but in the GTX it was tuned for some 25 more horsepower: a rated 375 at 4,600 rpm, plus a thumping 480 pounds/feet of torque peaking at 3,200. With 1,400 fewer pounds to push, the 440 made the GTX go like hell.

However, to make sure you didn't wind up there, Plymouth also included beefed-up front torsion bars, rear leaf springs, and front anti-roll bar, plus Goodyear Red Streak performance tires and heavy-duty dual-circuit brakes. Serving "secondary safety" were seat belts all-around, a padded dash top, and energy-absorbing steering column.

In those days all it took to impress a customer was cubic inches. The GTX wasn't sophisticated in today's automotive sense with rear-wheel steering or four-wheel-drive or turbo-charging or multi-valves.

From the outside it didn't even look that special. Aside from a blacked-out grille, dummy hood scoops, quick-release gas cap, and simulated mag wheel covers, it was pretty much like your everyday Satellite two-door hardtop or convertible.

Still, there were bucket front seats (vinyl, of course -- one reviewer compared their appearance to a Tijuana handbag), and you could order a center "sports" console, an electric tachometer there (poor positioning, that), woodgrain steering wheel, five-spoke road wheels, hood/deck stripes and, maybe best of all, front-disc power brakes and Sure-Grip limited-slip differential.

Most 1967s seem to have had these goodies. On the next page, we delve deeper into the 1967 Plymouth GTX.

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1967, 1968 Plymouth GTX

It was simple to understand what the 1967 Plymouth GTX was really about: Just turn the key and listen to the rumbling dual exhausts (chrome-tipped at no charge).

Even then you had to floor the thing; around town it was as docile as a Slant Six Valiant, all choked up until the secondary throats opened on the Carter AFB four-barrel carburetor. At that point, things started to happen -- fast.

What, exactly? Well, 0-60 took seven seconds flat and the standing-start quarter-mile came up in 15.5 seconds at 95 mph. That was with the moderate 3.23:1 standard rear axle; numerically higher optional ratios would do you even better.

1967 Plymouth GTX
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
For 1967, the GTX was officially listed as a Belvedere GTX. Red-line tires and quick-release gas cap were standard.

And those figures were regularly reproduced with the standard TorqueFlite automatic transmission, though true speed freaks opted for the extra-cost four-on-the-floor. Even so, many testers found that a TorqueFlite GTX could nip the times of a stick Hemi. If any Plymouth was "out to win you over," as the ads said in 1967, the GTX was it.

Of course, the street Hemi was available -- the only engine option, in fact -- and still ludicrously underrated: 425 bhp at 5,000 rpm, 490 lbs/ft at 4,000. It was also still costly to make and thus formidably expensive to buy, adding over $550 to the window sticker.

However, that included a much stouter undercarriage than stock, plus a super-duty Dana rear axle (actually a truck unit), both specified in the interest of longevity against the prodigious torque and inevitable leadfoot driving.

Hemi power ratings were deliberately conservative to keep from arousing the ire of insurance companies. But even the street versions were exempt from Chrysler's usual 5/50 new-car warranty (5-years/50,000-miles) and brochures almost tried to discourage sales with phrases like "not recommended for general highway driving" -- which was fair enough. The Hemi belonged on racetracks and dragstrips.

If the 1967 GTX was less "furnished" than it seemed, it was only so Chrysler could spend money where it counted -- on the performance hardware -- without pricing the car beyond its intended market: a fairly young crowd with shallow pockets.

In the days before Vietnam began claiming so many young men, there were plenty such folks around, and competition for their dollars was intense. Yet, the GTX sold pretty well in its first year out despite fairly hefty prices of $3,178 for the hardtop and $3,418 for the convertible.

Even so, the GTX was a relative bargain even way back then. Production ended up at 11,429 hardtops but just 686 convertibles.

Although Ford outpointed Plymouth in the 1967 NASCAR Manufacturer's Cup, Richard Petty was again the driving king, winning 27 times in 48 starts with his Hemi-powered Satellites. Though these cars were stripped and lightened "silhouette" racers, the GTX was their direct showroom equivalent, and King Richard was a hero to contemporary Plymouth performance fans.

Wrote NASCAR chronicler Greg Fielden: "Although their talented teams and drivers had won half of the 10 oval-track super-speedway events, it was Petty and Plymouth who grabbed virtually all the headlines."

Plymouth's intermediates were rebodied for 1968, which introduced the Road Runner and GTX -- now officially a separate two-model series as one of "The Mid-Size 5." It exchanged four-square looks for smoother, more liquid lines with humped rear fenders.

The grille remained small and purposeful, while the deck was cluttered only by a prominent full-width reflector lens. Appearance overall was very slick.

1968 Plymouth GTX
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
For 1968, the Plymouth GTX adopted curvier styling, especially at the rear flanks. The black-out grille and twin simulated air scoops were new.

Standard and optional equipment stayed basically the same, as did power ratings. But four-speed manual was now a no-cost alternative to TorqueFlite, and the optional tach was finally in the dash, where it belonged.

With Road Runner catering to no-frills buyers, GTX prices were raised a healthy $200: to $3,355 for the hardtop and $3,590 for the convertible. But production also bumped up, and by considerable amounts, reaching 17,914 hardtops and 1,026 convertibles.

Ford had its revenge in stock-car racing that year. David Pearson, driving for Holman & Moody, won the 1968 NASCAR driving crown, with Petty a distant third. Ford also won in points.

At the end of the season, "King Richard" startled everyone by dropping Plymouth to drive for Ford, which he said had "a vast storehouse of knowledge, much more than Chrysler has. The name of the game is money. If I could get a better deal, I'd take it." He would, and he did.

On the next page, read about the 1969 Plymouth GTX.

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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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1970 Plymouth GTX

The 1970 Plymouth GTX came in hardtop only, as Plymouth began dropping convertibles along with other makes (in fear of an outright government ban on ragtops that would never happen).

In addition, buyers began turning away from all muscle cars in the face of rising insurance premiums and escalating gas prices. Inflation was also starting to affect vehicle prices, but the GTX hardtop didn't suffer much, rising to $3,535.

1970 Plymouth GTX
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
For 1970, the Plymouth GTX side trim was altered with twin stripes starting at the very front of the car and running into a fake scoop behind the door.

Styling for the 1970 Plymouth GTX was moderately changed, still clean and handsome from any angle, though a concave back panel, dummy side scoops, and a big loop-type grille were noticeable.

So were some wild new "high impact" paint colors: In-Violet, Lime Light, Vitamin C Orange, Tor-Red, Lemon Twist, and Moulin Rouge. Dodge used the same hues, which cost a little extra, but with different names. (For 1971, the choices were: In-Violet, Tor-Red, Curious Yellow, and Sassy Grass Green.)

But dealers now treated the GTX as a kind of luxury Road Runner without the whimsical beep-beep horn. This did nothing for buyer interest, nor sales, which fell sharply to 7,748 for the model year.

"Plymouth Makes It" was the slogan for 1970, and Plymouth made more of the GTX by throwing in the Track Pak and offering a new power option: a 440 Six-Pack with 390 horses from triple two-barrel carbs.

Six-Pack, sometimes also spelled Six-Pac, was actually Dodge's terminology; Plymouth called the engine "440 6-bbl" in ads, but the big decals on the hood read "440+6."

1970 Plymouth GTX
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
This 1970 GTX shows off its black-out grille. Its shape was neatly carried over to the restyled rear end.

Meanwhile, the regular four-barrel wedge still made 375 bhp despite interim emissions tuning, and the 426 Street Hemi -- now with hydraulic valve lifters -- was still around at a nominal 425 bhp, though it now cost $711.

Hemis and the 440+6 were "recommended for sanctioned events" in brochures, which also advised that neither could be ordered with air conditioning, manual transmission, or speed control. One can understand why you wouldn't want the last, but Lord knows it was easy to get arrested in one of these Plymouths, whatever was under the hood.

This period marked Plymouth's greatest competition performance. With the aerodynamic Superbird, evolved from the 1969 Charger Daytona to dominate NASCAR's long tracks, Richard Petty was lured back to Chrysler after his year's stint with Ford.

Another 'Bird driver, Pete Hamilton, beat the field at the 1970 Daytona 500, averaging nearly 150 mph. Superbirds easily won the season's points competition.

NASCAR changed rules the following year to ban the 'Birds, but not before Plymouth won its first NASCAR Manufacturer's Cup -- and likely the only one it ever will win. Petty, with 21 Grand National victories, was NASCAR champion for the third time in his career.

On the next page, we cover the 1971 Plymouth GTX. Read on.

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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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1967 Plymouth GTX Specifications

A quintessential muscle car, the 1967 Plymouth GTX continues to impress collectors with its speed, power, and cubic inches. Find specifications and prices for the 1967 Plymouth GTX in the following chart.

1967 Plymouth GTX Specifications and Prices

Engine
Type/size ohv V-8, 440 cid
Bore x stroke (in.) 4.32x3.75
Compression ratio 10.1:1
Fuel delivery Carter AFB 4-bbl carb
Horsepower @ rpm 375 @ 4,600 (SAE gross)
Torque (lbs/ft) @ rpm 480 @ 3,200 (SAE gross)

Construction
Integral unit body/chassis

Transmission
TorqueFlite 3-speed automatic (with floorshift)

Final-Drive Ratios
3.23:1 standard; 3.55:1, 2.94:1 available

Suspension, Front
Independent, non-parallel control arms on torsion bars

Suspension, Rear
Live axle on semi-elliptic leaf springs

Steering
Rack-and-sector, 3.5 turns lock-to-lock

Brakes
11.0 × 3.0-in. front drums; 11 × 2.5-in. rear drums; power brakes with 11.0-in front discs opt

Wheels & Tires
14 × 5.5K stamped-steel rims, 7.75 × 14 Goodyear Red Streak nylon tires

Dimensions & Capacities
Wheelbase (in.) 115.0
Overall length (in.) 200.5
Overall width (in.) 76.4
Overall height (in.) 54.1
Track, front (in) 59.5
Track, rear (in.) 58.5
Trunk capacity (cu ft) 21.6
Fuel capacity (gal) 19.0
Curb weight (lbs) 3,545

Base Prices (U.S.)
Hardtop $3,178
Convertible $3,418 (includes 440 V-8, automatic transmission, handling suspension, bucket seats)

Selected Option Prices (U.S.)
426-cid, 2 4-bbl Hemi V-8 (425 bhp) $546
Power brakes $42
Power steering $90
Air conditioning (N/A with Hemi) $340
Sure-Grip differential $38
Power windows $100

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