1967 Hemi GTX Convertible Owner: Harold Sullivan Troy, Michigan
Hemi: aka The Elephant. You gaze upon two of the rarer elephants in captivity, both belonging to Motown Mopar maven, Harold Sullivan (whom you may remember as owner/restorer of Jimmy Addison's beastly Silver Bullet GTX street racer featured on the first of our Collector's Signature Series of posters in your Sept. '98 issue). Let's get right to the heart of the matter: While there is no such thing as a common Hemi model, according to Sullivan (and he should know), our Bright Yellow example is one of only 17 Elephant-equipped '67 GTX convertibles produced. Ten of those had TorqueFlite automatics; the other seven were four-speeds like this one.
Scarcer yet, Harold's Dark Red Metallic '67 Coronet R/T convertible had only one similar sibling optioned with an A833 manual gearbox, and one more with an automatic.
Logically, there's good reason for this scarcity. Plymouth's GTX and the Dodge R/T were introduced in '67 as luxury performers, each lavishly outfitted for the day and featuring a torque-rich, 375hp 440 as standard equipment. The 480lb-ft 440 was ideally suited to the weighty B-Bodies, and also suited the overwhelming majority of R/T and GTX buyers just fine. In just its second year of availability, the much-revered but marginally civilized 425hp Street Hemi was the only optional step up over the 440and it was a steep step at around a $564 premium. That so few Hemis were ordered in the convertible models should really come as no surprise based on price alone. Besides, the average Hemi guy wouldn't normally saddle his Elephant with a heavy (about 4,200 pounds) convertible body. He'd also normally team his Hemi with steep gearing for maximum ballistic effect.
In contrast to this norm, both of Sullivan's two drop-dead drop-tops have 3.54:1 Sure Grip (Track Pak) assemblies in their 9.75-inch Dana 60 housings. Relying on the 7.75x14 tires of the day, we shudder to think of the top speed a 426 Hemi driving through 3.54 gearing was capable of. This trepidation is only amplified by the thought of nothing but a fabric roof overhead and, at best, a lap belt to secure one's fragile bones in place.
This mild gearing and convertible corpulence didn't seem to bother the Coronet's ability to accelerate, however. In the course of its restoration by Jeff Reif, a couple of timeslips from the quarter-mile track at Gainesville, Florida, were found in the glovebox. These revealed the brawny R/T was capable of a 13.60 e.t. at 103.1 mph, proving that it takes more than a little weight and soft gearing to slow a stampeding Elephant.
Sullivan was able to track down and speak with the R/T's original purchaser, Jimmy Piland, as well as its selling dealer, Kelly McCard, in Quitman, Georgia. From these conversations, Harold learned that Mr. Piland entered O'Steen-McCard Motors in late 1966 with just three simple stipulations for the new car he was about to order: First of all I want a four-speed, and then I want the biggest engine I can order, and it has to be a convertible. With the Hemi R/T, he got all three for $4,509.25serious coin for the day.
Less is known about the GTX's history. With its virgin-white top, it looks almost too innocent to pack a menacing Hemi, but option-wise it's a near copy of its Dodge counterpart. In addition to identical powertrains, each of these St. Louis-built twins-under-the-skin was originally optioned with power disc brakes (heavy-duty drums were standard R/T and GTX fare), AM radios (as if they could be heard over the baritone bark of the Hemi), and 5.5-inch wide Road Wheels, though the R/T lacks the GTX's console and tach. Naturally, each has the Hemi suspension consisting of firm-ride shocks, 6-leaf left rear spring with 5+2½ on the right, a .94-inch front sway bar, and .92-inch torsion bars.
Though only a sampling of Sullivan's growing herd of Hemis, these two are particularly fine examples of a rare breed. Some elephants never forget; others are just unforgettable.