Years ago, Southern California's massive blacktop infrastructure was what nurtured the street racing craze that has since blossomed into the performance automotive enthusiast hobby that exists today.
Cypress, California, native Larry Dewees learned how to drive on those streets. Standing well over six feet, he would be intimidating were it not for his persistently warm demeanor. Always ready with a friendly smile and firm handshake, Larry is one of those guys who make you proud to be a fellow Mopar enthusiast. He is a member of the rag-tag band of brothers aptly named the Mopar Knights-a group of Chrysler fans regularly spotted cruising their classic machines, as well as making a presence at several local shows and national events, including Mopars at the Strip and the Mopar Nationals.
Suffering through two 440s...
Suffering through two 440s that refused to keep their oil and water separated, Larry chose to go with a stroked 383, weighing in at 443 ci. Making horsepower well into the 500s, this plant fits nicely in its refurbished engine compartment. The radiator and valve covers were powdercoated aluminum, while the Edlebrock top end is the real McCoy.
It was Larry's affiliation with the knights that gave him the connection to this '66 Plymouth Satellite. He was in search of a reliable daily driver for his teenage son, Christopher. Larry was directed to a nearby neighborhood and met with the then-owner Jeff, who informed Larry the factory 361 had been junked years ago and replaced with a running 440. Since the engine swap, the Plymouth had sat dormant. The original hue was barely visible; the persistent California sun had oxidized it severely. The interior had suffered equally-the carpet, seats, headliner, and dashpad were all worn and weathered.
Christopher gave his father the thumbs up, and the B-Body was driven home for only $3,600 (proof that straight, turnkey Mopars are still available without busting the bank). Looking out for his son's safety and driving record, Larry exchanged the 3.23 gears with a peg-leg 2.76 carrier.
The Satellite survived the the high schooler's lead foot for a year and a half before the 440 gave up the ghost. The mill was pulled within the week. However, a powerplant wasn't returned between the fenders until a new block was located, as the previous 440 was junk-overbored, worn, and leaking water into the oil. A '68 HP block was located, and quickly rebuilt with a new mild cam, headers, and aluminum Weiand intake. The differential was then exchanged for another set of 3.23 gears with a Sure Grip.
Christopher was given the keys for another six month until his youthful inter-ests swayed towards off-road trucks rather than pavement pounders. Larry happily took the Plymouth back and quickly began concocting plans for the Satellite's future. The power steering box was replaced since the original continually leaked. The '76 Volare disc brakes took the place of the original front drums, and the 14-inch Cragar SSTs wheel were replaced with identical 15-inch versions of the classic musclecar rim. The Satellite served as a daily driver, bringing in a best of 10 mpg on Larry's daily 80-mile commute.
Even better than how it left...
Even better than how it left the factory, the firewall was patched, eliminating the factory A/C and heater unit. The wiper motor was also ditched, and its perch patched and smoothed.
With the surmounting wear and tear on the 440, it wasn't long before the engine began to wobble on its legs. More water was found in the oil in December 2003, three years after the Plymouth was purchased. The previous set of 2.76 gears went back in and a more conservative profile camshaft replaced the previous Hemi-grind cam. Since Larry was prepping the car for many more years (and miles) of commuting, he rebuilt the front suspension with larger torsion bars, and added front and rear sway bars.
Converted into a committed cruiser, the Satellite made it all the way to the Midnight at the Oasis Car Show in Yuma, Arizona, the weekly Garden Grove, California, Main Street Show, and even to the Donut Derelicts cruise in Huntington Beach, California.