It was 1964, and a 24-year-young Jay Passon made the 15-mile drive to the Chrysler and Plymouth dealer (Maff Motors) in Tamaqua, Pennsylvania, searching for a new car. Not wanting to just settle for something off the showroom floor, an order was placed. The car would be a '65 Plymouth Satellite, with one of them new-fangled 426 wedge engines and a four-speed manual tranny. The Sure Grip 831/44 rear would have 3.23 gears, and rolling stock would be 8.25X14 Rayon tires with white walls that would soon be turned into asphalt crayons. No other power-robbing frills were checked on the order sheet. For a grand total of $3,477.30, the paperwork was signed, and the order placed. On November 11, the Satellite arrived and Jay was a happy man. The '65 was only driven in fair weather until 1971. Jay, like any enthusiast of that time, was known to frequent the southeastern Pennsylvania quarter-mile patch of asphalt known as Vargo Drag-o-way in Perkasie, Pennsylvania.
From 1972 until 1978, life and its pursuits relegated the Satellite to spend its time behind a garage door. The only time the car would come out was for the mandatory state vehicle inspection. So, with less than 19,000 miles on the odometer, Jay basically forgot about the car. During this time, he raised his two sons, Jeff and Jamie, with a knowledge of automotive repairs. He would show them how to change oil, fix brakes and whatnot on the family's daily driver (a '71 Fury III and, later, a '74 Valiant). Little did he know how well his boys were paying attention, and the results it would have.
Fast forward to 1990, the car had been resting in a storage garage for 12 years, about 7 miles from home. After getting into a stash of Jay's old Hot Rod magazines, Jeff approached Jamie with a plan for their father's 50th birthday-surprise him with his Satellite. The plan was to make the old girl road-worthy again, without altering it anymore than necessary. You know, make it like it was when dad bought it. So Jeff and Jamie, who were still in high school at the time, would work on the car after school and still get home before dad, so not to arouse his suspicion. Friends of the elder Passon, his wife, and mother were even involved. Progress went on through the summer unnoticed because the car was never "visited" by Jay. The face-lift consisted of removing the engine, freshening the engine bay with a new coat of paint, and detailing the engine while it was out. The outside of the body and the interior are as factory delivered.
Finally, the day for the car's debut arrived. Everybody agreed on the plan. Jay stopped by his mother's house every day, but on this particular day, Jeff and Jay's wife were waiting for him on the porch. They told him his mother was over at a neighbor's house. In reality, Jamie was in the storage garage with his grandmother and the rest of the group. Jeff and his mom then told Jay the owner of the garage had called and said someone had broken into it. There was damage to the vehicles in the garage, but his car was so dirty the garage owner couldn't tell what was damaged. Needless to say, Jay quickly found the garage key and they all hurried to the garage. "I could hear him frantically asking Jeff and my mom questions from a half a block away." Jamie continued, "I heard the key go in the lock, the door unlock, and go up. We had a red bow over the car, and it looked great. The look on his face when he opened the door was priceless. It will forever be burned into my memory."
Since the unveiling, the Passons have added lettering to the rear quarter-windows. a pair of old M&H Racemaster Slicks are bolted on from time to time when the family feels nostalgic. Oh, yeah, the car is now parked at the Passon homestead. So what's in store for the Satellite now? Let's just say it will never again be spending its time sitting in a dirt-floored garage on the other side of town.