1967, 1968 Plymouth GTX
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.
©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.
©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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