Federal regulations made headrests...
Federal regulations made headrests or suitable head restraints necessary for standard equipment. Chrysler decided to incorporate their headrests into the bucket seats. Legendary Interiors provided all the skin necessary to recover the seats, headliner, door panels, carpet, along with the vinyl top.
Along with all the paint and...
Along with all the paint and bodywork, American Classic Restorations was hired to restore some of the more intricate interior cues, including the woodgrain dash, center console, and door panels. A Tic-Tock-Tach was installed along with a hidden CD player with the controls tucked into the ashtray. Sneaky, very sneaky.
Though totally nonfunctional,...
Though totally nonfunctional, the faux side scoop inlets do help break up the smooth panels that appear to go on for miles. The side stripes were new for 1970, as well as the new grille and taillamps that were shared with its more affordable sibling, the Road Runner.
We like to reminisce about the days when having a car phone was a sign of prestige. Remember those original cell phones-big, cumbersome units that required a bulky battery to keep the phone charged for longer than three hours? For those of us who have been sucked into the modern world of digital communication, there is a slight tinge of envy when we meet someone who has somehow stayed clear of all the computer gadgetry. Don and Tracy Frank are exactly those people. When it came time for us to start working on this article, we realized the only contact information we had was a single home line . . . no cell phone number, no work line, no e-mail address. We had to send Don a copy of our fabled "tech sheet" questionnaire through the U.S. Postal Service and wait for its return. Don and Tracy aren't much interested in fancy frills and high-tech gizmos. That's why their '70 GTX is a zero-BS, all-but-perfect car that doesn't claim to be anything other than what it truly is-a musclecar.
Eight years ago, Don discovered the Plymouth in an Auto Trader advertisement in South Carolina. In rough shape, the original '70 GTX body lacked a motor, transmission, and most everything else. Frank's budget wouldn't allow for the car to be sent to an auto restorer. Rather, the husband and wife team decided it was going to be a hands-on project. Don scoured the swap meets and show fields at the Mopar Nationals and Chryslers at Carlisle events. He purchased several grilles, sets of marker lights, and taillight bezels. Tracy used her sharp eye to help Don find the best deals and parts, making the duo a bargain-hunting pair.
Since the Plymouth was in such dire shape, the Franks thought it was the perfect opportunity to build the GTX the way they wanted. The original fender tag was ignored as they began piecing together their ideal B-Body. Don disassembled the car, bagging and tagging along the way. The stripped shell and major parts were farmed out to be restored since Don had more faith in the body sculpting skills of professionals. Don and Tracy kept up the hunting and gathering duties to get everything the car would need upon assembly.
American Classic Restorations in Uxbridge, Massachusetts, was hired to straighten the body, eradicate any cancerous corrosion eating away the sheetmetal, and prep and paint the B-Body in B3 Ice Blue. After its panels were blocked flat, and the corners and edges sharpened, the GTX was shot with several layers of base and clear. Don had landed an original '70 Air Grabber hood, which was painted and highlighted with the factory-style longitudinal stripe and factory-correct hood pins. After the body was completed, it was returned to the Frank's garage where reassembly would commence. During the time it took for the bodywork and paint to be completed, Don had gathered together nearly everything they would need.
Earlier, the seat tracks and frames had been sent off to be sandblasted and repainted; the frames were wrapped in Legendary black covers and filled with all new seat foam. With the high-back bucket seats finished, new carpet (also from Legendary), door panels, headliner, and vinyl top were installed. the craftsmen at American Classic Restorations restored the dash gauges, added a Tic-Toc-Tach, rechromed the gauge bezels as well as all the metal trim on the dash and center console. New woodgrain labels were adhered to the original interior accents, giving the GTX that classy look that distinguished the model. The last little detail to the interior cabin was the addition of a modern CD player. Yeah, we were a little surprised to see the Franks put a CD player in their '70 GTX, but you can't blame them for wanting to listen to their music in style. The CD changer was hidden in the trunk, and the controller was tucked up in the dash ashtray. The stock-appearing AM radio still resides in its factory position in the dash face with nobody wise to the modern music box hidden from sight.
So what if it's not numbers...
So what if it's not numbers matching? The Franks made this '70 Plymouth into exactly what they wished for. The 440 block is date-correct, along with the 906 heads, intake, and CVS Cater carburetor. Inside is a Comp Cams bumpstick, Keith Black hypereutectic pistons, Manley valves, and Comp springs, retainers, and pushrods. The exhaust is dead on, as is the rest of the car.
A GTX is nothing but a regular old B-Body without the big-block powerplant. Some time earlier, Don had stumbled across a Chrysler E-Series 440 engine block and built the engine himself. He did have all the machine work handled by a local shop, but he took care of the final assembly. The block was bored .030-inch over with a factory 3.750-inch stroke. Keith Black hypereutectic 10.25:1 slugs fill the chambers spun by an internally balanced, stock forged crankshaft. Comp Cams provided a Magnum-series cam and lifters at .470-lift. Chrysler 906 heads were fitted with Manley valves and Comp Cams springs, retainers, locks, adjustable rocker arms, and pushrods. He kept the externally stock appearance with a factory intake and AVS Carter carburetor. Electronic ignition by Mopar Performance, date-coded plug wires, a stock-appearing ignition coil, and a set of Jet Hot-coated factory exhaust manifolds were the sum of the equation. Don and Tracy went with factory-style Hemi mufflers with an H-pipe and stock chrome tips with an aluminized 211/42-inch pipe. The transmission was sent to A&A Transmissions in Camby, Indiana, returning home with an 11-inch, 2,600-stall torque converter and fresh new internals, including a mild shift kit and an option-correct transmission cooler. A 26-inch radiator replaced the absent cooler, and a three-speed wiper motor replaced the broken unit. The Air Grabber scoop and all its mechanisms were meticulously restored and are operated by a pull-tab just like in 1970.
The Air Grabber hoodscoop...
The Air Grabber hoodscoop was new for the '70 model year and made a big splash with new and returning Chrysler loyalists. It took several years of hunting, but Don and Tracy found everything they would need to build a restored GTX performance hood.
Keeping the GTX on all fours is a perfectly restored heavy-duty suspension package with new bushings, super-duty springs, HD power brakes, including front discs and power steering. Four 15-inch Rallyes wrapped in BFG rubber keeps the big B-Body planted at all times, while the stout Chrysler 831/44 rear filled with freeway-friendly 3.55 gears spins the Sure Grip well over the posted speed limit. A Denny's balanced driveshaft ensures drivetrain harmony at any speed.
Though the numbers don't match, the look and performance sure does. The Frank's Plymouth took Second Place in its class at the Chryslers at Carlisle show, as well as Second Place at this year's Mopar Nationals. fitting since it was these events that were instrumental in helping the Franks build their GTX in the first place.
Eight years after Don brought...
Eight years after Don brought the Plymouth home, the Franks were able to enjoy their finished ride. Not too crazy to enjoy on the street, not too tame to shy away from fun sprints around town, Don and Tracy's GTX is the perfect example of the "building it how you want to" philosophy.
Fast Facts: '70 Plymouth GTX
Don and Tracy Frank • Linden, PA
Engine: Starting with an E-Series 440 RB block, Don had a local machine shop bore the block .030-inches over while maintaining the stock stroke. Keith Black 10.25:1 compression hypereutectic pistons mated to stock steel rods are spun by an internally balanced forged factory crank. A Comp Cams Magnum camshaft and lifters make the Manley valves, Comp springs, retainers, locks, pushrods, and rockers dance. A factory dual-plane intake topped with an AVS Carter carburetor feed the big-block plant, while date-coded plug wires and a stock-appearing ignition coil make the spark. Factory exhaust is perfect down to the Jet Hot-coated manifolds and 211/42-inch aluminized tubes funneling the fumes out chrome stock-looking tips.
Transmission: A&A Transmission in Camby, Indiana, rebuilt the 727 TorqueFlite with an 11-inch, 2,600 stall converter and a mild shift kit. A factory-optional, Hemi-grade transmission cooler helps to maintain livable temperatures when the Franks are cruising on summer days.
Rearend: No less than a Chrysler 831/44 would do. Filled with a Sure Grip and 3.55 cruiser gears, the rear is tough and true.
Horsepower & Performance: Don and Tracy haven't clicked off any timeslips, but the GTX has seen some pretty fun cruising and tall highway speeds.
Suspension: Nothing but factory gear here. New bushings and ball joints were pressed in once all the components were meticulously disassembled, cleaned, painted, and reassembled. In keeping with the GTX option, Don went with all heavy duty springs, torsion bars, and sway bars.
Brakes: Power assisted and with discs up front, the GTX was a benchmark for big, intermediate body, musclecar performance in its time.
Wheels: Almost everything Chrysler made in 1970 was available with 15x7 Rallyes, and this Plymouth is no different.
Rubber: BFGoodrich rubber is the same at all four corners (which makes changing a tire easy) with 225/60R15s.
Body: Don and Tracy knew they couldn't do it all themselves, so American Classic Restorations in Uxbridge, Massachusetts, was hired to put the body straight. A correct hood was found and fitted with the signature Air Grabber hoodscoop and appropriate mechanisms along with the typical hood pins. A Go Wing was bolted to the trunk to complete the sporty look.
Paint: Though the fender tag states differently, the Franks chose to paint their GTX in B3 Ice Blue. The look is so striking that Tracy calls the Plymouth, "Iced Lightning." The side stripes, vinyl top, and hood blackout helps to break up the big B-Body's monochromatic paint scheme.
Interior: Legendary shows their worth once again, providing gorgeous reproduction covers for the seats (whose frames and tracks were sandblasted and repainted), carpet, headliner, and perfectly correct '70 GTX door panels. The dash board benefits from American Classics Restorations' magic touch, with new woodgrain wrappings, new chrome on all the metal surfaces, rebuilt gauges, a Tic-Tock-Tach, and hidden controls to the trunk-mounted CD player, while the factory-appearing AM radio still resides in its original place. The woodgrain steering wheel is 100-percent factory original.