Tastefully applied, the aftermarket...
Tastefully applied, the aftermarket air conditioning controls don't look too out of place perched on the dashboard. Doug had no desire to sweat his way through the Pennsylvania summers while enjoying his made-to-order Savoy.
Doug wanted to drive this...
Doug wanted to drive this car, and so he does! A '65 RB 413 was rebuilt for mild cruising; though it sports a more-than-mild 440 Six-Pack hydraulic flat-tapped camshaft. Low-compression pistons and free-flowing Hedman headers allow the 413 wedge to rack up the miles per hour with ease thanks to the 2.94 Sure Grip out back.
When Doug McCombs of Volant, Pennsylvania, created this gorgeous '62 Plymouth Savoy 413 wedge out of a four-door Belvedere we had to stop, clean our glasses, and take a closer look.
Some call the early '60s Mopars' looks "so ugly, they have a face only an engineer could love," but it was what was under the skin that made these machines great. Awkward and gaudy, especially when compared to its GM competition, the Darts and Savoys suffered in sales, but it was on the race course these vehicles shined. New torsion bar front suspension and heavy-duty rear leaves made for some of the best handling and responsive suspension platforms available. Situated in between the six-year gap (1958-1964) when the Hemi was absent, the wedge was able to flourish and come into its own-culminating in the Max Wedge 413 and 426.
Though not a Max Wedge 413 clone, per se, the '62 Savoy Doug has fabricated is most impressive, especially given what he had to work with. A connoisseur of early and mid-'60s Mopars, Doug owns three '65 Valiants: two with 273s, one with a 340, one is a convertible; all three are four-speeds, along with a '67 Barracuda 440 four-speed. A professional mechanic by trade, Doug put his skills to use when he took on this project.
The desire to build an early Savoy had been on Doug's mind for quite sometime before he landed the super-straight '62 Belvedere four-door three years ago. Found locally and for a steal of a price, the car's odometer read a mere 32,000 miles. Thinking he would scavenge what parts he could from the Belvedere and apply them to a two-door he had yet to find, Doug set out to find his desired project car. Unfortunately, finding a two-door Savoy turned out to be considerably more difficult than he had imagined. He did know of a two-door sedan that was so corroded it couldn't be considered a feasible car to build. But he finally deciding to purchase the rusting hulk and after getting it home, he realized the potential his newest acquisition had. The doors and forward quarters were salvageable.
Lining up the two Plymouths side by side, Doug began to piece together a perfect plan. The doors were pulled off the four-door, the interior was eviscerated from the body, and the center B-pillar was cut out. Thankfully, the wheelbases of the two vehicles were identical, so Doug did not have to sever the car in two and shorten it. The forward quarter-panel was trimmed and cut to fit the rear door jambs, and additional sheetmetal was placed to fill the gap in the running boards. Hanging doors and getting them to line-up, seal, and swing nicely is tough enough with factory-positioned strikers. Doug clocked hours fitting, aligning, and realigning the doors and the quarter-panels to get them to feel and close smoother than anything that left the factory that year.
Doug says the complete build took less than a year and a half. Once all the metal fabrication was completed at Doug's home garage, the Belvedere-turned-Savoy was sent to Scott Guy of New Castle, Pennsylvania, for a generous helping of paint and bodywork. The sharp crease lines, sculpted fender flares, and signature protruding beltline are razor sharp. After the block-sanding, the Plymouth was coated in Dimensions' Atlantic Blue Pearl.
The Belvedere before its day...
The Belvedere before its day under the knife (well, cutting torch). Luckily, the family sedan shared the same wheelbase as the rusted Savoy or much more cutting would have been needed.
The doors were pulled and...
The doors were pulled and the center B-pillar was cut out. The running boards were cleaned and flattened to receive the new sheetmetal.
The donor Savoy was shaved...
The donor Savoy was shaved of its factory doors and forward quarter-panels. The rest of the car proffered up what little was salvageable for the project, which wasn't much.
After it was back home, Doug began reassembling the shell. Mopar Performance offset spring hangers moved the rear leaves inward allowing for better meats. A Chrysler 831/44 rear was loaded with a leisurely 2.94 Sure Grip differential turning the vintage body-matched steel rims wrapped in BFG radials. The front suspension is all but stock, with factory-style discs bringing the American Racing Torq-Thrusts to a halt. Dutton's Upholstery from Youngstown, Ohio, covered the cabin with blue cloth and vinyl. It's all stock appearing, so the stitches were easy to duplicate. Doug did install a Sony AM/FM cassette deck with a trunk-mounted CD player, and also added air conditioning and cruise control to his freeway flier. But what stands out is the large shifter hump. During the sheetmetal process, Doug opened up the floor and mounted a manual shifter tunnel.
The manual A-833 box is manned by a Hurst shifter arm and rows the gears for a hefty '65 RB 413 wedge built by Doug. Bored .030 over, the block maintains mostly all factory specifications and components, keeping the factory crank and rods. Doug pressed in a set of 9.2:1 pistons and a Mopar Performance hydraulic flat-tappet 440 Six-Pack camshaft. The factory cast heads were sent to Aerohead for a rebuild. They returned with stainless valves and hardened seats with heavy-duty Mopar Performance stamped rockers. An Edelbrock 800-cfm carburetor sits atop the factory intake, while a stock Mopar 440 electronic distributor and orange box (painted black) throws the sparks. Doug slid in a pair of Hedman headers that funnel the fumes through a set of stainless turbo mufflers and full 3-inch tubes.
A little hint of modern technology...
A little hint of modern technology crept in with the addition of this electronically controlled cruise control. Tucked underneath the steering column and perched on the inner fender like part of the aftermarket A/C equipment, many people don't recognize the little gray box until Doug points it out.
"None the wiser" is what Doug...
"None the wiser" is what Doug says when people look at his four-door-turned-two. The interior is all but stock in calm blue cloth and vinyl stitching. The shifter hump was added during the metal work process, and the door jambs hailed from a rotting corpse of a two-door sedan. As a fan of early '60s Mopars, Doug had all the shifter pedals and linkage in his personal collection ready for use.
Doug has racked up 6,000-plus miles on the Savoy since its completion. It fools most who think the car was an original two-door post sedan. Even when they're informed of the Plymouth's massive reconstructive surgery, many still don't believe it. It just goes to prove-if you can't find the car of your dreams, you can just build it yourself.
This is the final placement...
This is the final placement of the donated sheetmetal. Aligning the intricate creases and folds in the panels was daunting. Notice below the forward quarter-panel, a gap was left with the rear door absent.
Doug yanked the interior and...
Doug yanked the interior and installed a manual transmission hump for the impending four-speed gearbox. Doug is a tried-and-true four-speed man; he knows rowing the gears is part of the musclecar experience.
With all the spaces and gaps...
With all the spaces and gaps aligned and filled, the newly-made Savoy is ready for hours of bodywork and paint.
Fast Facts: '62 Plymouth SavoyDoug McCombs 1962 Plymouth Savoy • Originally a four-Door Belvedere • Made from Two Plymouths • RB 413 Wedge • Manual four-Speed 833 Transmission Volant, PA
Engine: A '65 RB 413 wedge bored .030 over, fitted with 9.2:1 pistons, factory crank and connecting rods, a MP hydraulic flat-tappet stock 440 Six-Pack camshaft, cast factory cylinder heads reworked by Aeroheads with stainless valves and hardened seats. A factory dual-plane intake is topped with an 800-cfm Edelbrock carburetor. Hedman headers flow into turbo mufflers and through 3-inch tubes.
Transmission: Nothing but a four-speed 833 manual transmission would do.
Rearend: A stout Chrysler 831/44 rear with a road-easy 2.94 Sure Grip spins the stock axles at leisurely speeds across the town, state, or country with little effort.
Horsepower & Performance: This is a fun cruiser, not a quarter-mile cruncher. since the completion of the project, Doug has loaded up over 6,000 miles on the clock.
Suspension: The torsion bar front suspension made waves in the early '60s, and Doug kept them in place. Only the rear springs have been moved in a la Mopar Performance offset spring hangers. Doug went with stout heavy-duty components, but nothing too crazy. He wanted to enjoy the ride, not rattle the fillings out of his head.
Brakes: Staying with the factory theme, Doug installed factory-style discs mounted up front with big drums in back.
Wheels: Doug blasted a pair of 15-inch steel rims and painted them to match the body for the back, with a pair of 15x6 American Racing wheels up front that look very vintage.
Rubber: Firestone 215/75-15s up front with 275/60-15 BFGoodrichs in back.
Body: Two Plymouths were sewn together to make this Savoy. it started life as a four-door Belvedere in black with red interior. The four doors were yanked along with the center B-pillar and replaced with the longer sedan doors from a rotted-out '62 Savoy. The metal work took most of the build's time-aligning the doors and forward quarter-panels made for some of the gnarliest fabrication Doug had ever undertaken.
Paint: The bodywork, prep, and paint were all tackled by New Castle, Pennsylvania's Scott Guy. Doug wanted to go with something a little different and a good median between the two car's factory colors, and so he chose this deep Atlantic Blue Pearl by Dimensions.
Interior: Doug wanted all factory-appearing coverings for his Savoy. Dutton's Upholstery in Youngstown, Ohio, covered the factory bench seats in blue cloth and vinyl, and replaced the blue headliner, carpet, and factory-appearing door panels. A few modifications add personal flair and are hard to pick out by the untrained eye. Doug slid in a new aftermarket air conditioning system, installed a subdued chrome control panel on the dash, and a trick cruise control's control box is affixed next to the steering column. The underhood portion is mounted to the inner fenderwell on the passenger side. A Sony AM/FM cassette player was installed with a six-disc changer unit mounted in the trunk. It's got all the creature comforts of a new car in an old car that was made from two cars. Pretty cool.