In the '64 season, General Motor's ban on corporate racing left a gaping hole that Ford and Chrysler were happy to fill. The 413 and 426 wedge engines were replaced with the reborn Hemi that year, and Ford stepped up to the line with their 427 Hi-Riser. Places such as the '64 Winternationals became the site of corporate-sponsored grudge matches between the blue oval and Mopar racers. Chrysler refused to be bested and made all the arrangements to win, regardless of the cost.
The advent of the factory lightweight race car caused white caps in an already rippled pool. The '64 Plymouths and Dodges were stripped of unnecessary poundage, such as adjustable seats, heater boxes, air conditioning, and radios. the vehicles' front clips were replaced with aluminum bumpers, supports, fenders, and a hood with a distinguishable scoop. In addition, Plymouth shaved off extra pounds by eliminating the two centermost headlamps from the grille and covering up the holes by splicing two grilles together. Chrysler's aggressive front on the NHRA circuit made an audible thump on the racing and enthusiast world.
It was during that legendary '64 season that Larry Wolfe, a high school student in Wichita, Kansas, would find himself watching the likes of Ted Detar, Merle Yost Plymouth, Harry Baker Motors, Whitey Myers, Tri States Motors, Larry Erickson, and Jim Hall battle it out on the M&N Raceway tarmac just outside of town. The sound of the uncorked Hemi Plymouths resonating over the acres of gray asphalt sent shivers down his spine. the undulating sound of the hearty-cammed Hemi would haunt his automotive enthusiast's mind for years afterwards.
After a bad roller lifter...
After a bad roller lifter chewed up the oil-pump shaft and sapped the elephant dry of oil pressure, the wounded plant was pulled and punched out to 485 cubes via a 4.150 stroker crank and a fresh bore.
Forty years and several other cars would come between Larry and his adolescent automotive fantasy of owning one of those elephant-packing Plymouth B-Bodies. A '32 highboy roadster, a '56 F100, and a '64 Riviera would tickle his fancy, but never quench his desire for the first-generation 426 Hemi.
Five years ago, Larry purchased a clean, two-door post Savoy that had been converted into a 340-powered Pro Street competitor. Even with the Savoy in his garage, Larry kept on the prowl until he stumbled across this '64 Pro Street Belvedere. It wasn't an authentic factory lightweight B-Body, but it looked close enough, plus it already had the right powerplant-the Hemi.
Purchased already tubbed for...
Purchased already tubbed for Pro Street racing, Larry's '64 sports a fuel cell and a differential gear oil cooler replete with its own electric fan. We've seen these on road courses, NASCAR, and dirt track cars before, but never on a Pro Street vehicle-interesting.
Once home, Larry began to notice more and more faults with the altered Belvedere. So much so, he decided it would be best to rebuild the Plymouth himself, with the help and skills of friend and car builder, Galen Frick.
During the drive to Galen's home, a roller lifter shattered, sending debris through the plant, chewing up the oil-pump shaft, and sucking the Hemi dry of oil pressure. Fearing a complete catastrophic engine failure, Larry and Galen yanked the plant and sent it to engine builder Duane Saum at Saum Engineering in Wichita.
The '68 casting block was given the full machine-shop treatment, opened up, cleaned, and stroked to total 485 inches with a 4.150-inch crankshaft. a Bullet camshaft with Crane hydraulic lifters control the stainless Manley valves. The block and heads, iron '68 castings, are the only components that remained the same as when Larry bought it. A Mopar Performance dual-plane aluminum intake was modified slightly for improved flow and port matching. A Holley 1050 Dominator supplies the powerhouse with fuel, while a Joe Hunt distributor and MSD 6AL box supply the fire. Large, coated tti headers flow down underneath the floorboards into a pair of 3-inch Flowmasters supplying very little, if any, sound deadening.
In 1964, Super Stock Plymouths...
In 1964, Super Stock Plymouths required the sacrifice of two original grilles to eliminate the center two headlamps, fabricating a solid grille that retained the outer most headlights. This reduced weight, of course, as well as distinguished the lightweight cars from the grocery getters and family sedans.
The Dana 60 was rebuilt with a 4.11-geared spool spinning bulletproof 35-spline Moser axles. Shortened long before Larry ever purchased the Belvedere, the Dana's relocated perches rest on Eaton Super Stock springs. The gearbox was given to Tim Parks at Neal Chance Racing Transmissions. There, the TorqueFlite would get a Griner valvebody, a trans-brake, and a 3,500-stall torque converter from ATI. A B&M Pro Ratchet shifter with a reverse pattern ensures sharp, precise shifts while under hard launches. All the tin work for the large wheeltubs was done previous to the purchase, and they were in such good condition that Larry felt they were fine.
As the Hemi was under construction at Duane Saum's shop, the body was sent to Dale Henderson in St. Francis, Kansas. He would strip the B-Body down to a shell, repair the needed bodywork, patch the rusty panels, and straighten the skin. Larry, busy scouring the internet and swap meets, landed a pair of N.O.S. shock towers and some other key components. the Belvedere was then painted in original factory '64 Plymouth white.
Except for the Pro Ratchet...
Except for the Pro Ratchet shifter, additional gauges, and electric switches, the rest of the cabin is pretty much stock. The radio and heater-delete add to the Super Stock theme, while the rear seat has been replaced with carpet.
Once painted, the car and its hundreds of parts were returned to Galen's garage for reassembly. thanks to Galen's skills and Larry's parts-hunting skills, two pristine '64 grilles were conjoined into one Super Stock-style grin.
Once the Plymouth was reassembled, the car was turned over to Rick Fisher in Augusta, Kansas, for the interior. Rick custom loomed the brilliant red carpet to run from inside the firewall, all the way over the budging wheeltubs, and into the rear package tray. He would also stitch up the beautiful vinyl seat covers and install Gary Hall reproduction door panels to the all-red cabin. A reconditioned instrument cluster and N.O.S. steering wheel completed the dashboard, while a separate gauge pod with electrical toggles was mounted underneath the dash.
Finished, running, and street worthy, the Plymouth made its way to the old Kansas M&N Raceway grounds for some open-header passes, just like those that inspired teenaged Larry 41 years ago.
All that's needed here is...
All that's needed here is a battery cut-off switch.
Fast Facts: '64 Plymouth Belvedere
Larry Wolfe • Mulvane, KS
Engine: A faulty roller lifter spat chunks that gnarled up the oil pump shaft,which in turn drained the Hemi of all oil pressure. Larry and friend, Galen Frick, pulled the plant and sent it to Duane Saum of Saum Enterprises in Wichita, Kansas, where the factory '68 block was bored and fitted with a 4.150-inch stroke crank. With everything but the block and heads replaced, the 485ci elephant is powered by a new Bullet hydraulic camshaft, Crane hydraulic lifters, and Manley valves. Topped with a M1 dual-plane aluminum Mopar intake and a Holley 1050 Dominator, the plant makes enough punch to take on those Super Stockers that inspired Larry 40 years ago. A Joe Hunt distributor with an MSD 6AL box spits fire, and the spent fumes tunnel through tti headers and 3-inch Flowmasters.
Transmission: The TorqueFlite was dropped off to Tim Parks at Neal Chance Racing Transmissions. There it was treated to a Griner reverse manual valvebody with a trans brake, a 3,500-stall torque converter from ATI, and capped off with a reverse-pattern B&M Pro Ratchet shifter.
Rearend: Previously narrowed for the giant tubs, the Dana 60 is filled with super-strong Moser 35-spline race axles and a stout spool married to a 4.11-gear ring-and-pinion.
Horsepower & Performance: Since the Hemi was never dyno'd, Larry doesn't have any at-the-flywheel horsepower numbers, nor does he have any timeslips from the local track . . . well, not yet.
Suspension: With the perches moved drastically inboard, the rear leafs were replaced with Eaton Super Stock springs. The front remains relatively stock, even using N.O.S. Hemi stock towers.
Taking the place of a rear...
Taking the place of a rear bench seat, the massive wheeltubs are covered in matching red carpet, custom loomed to finish off the super-clean interior.
Brakes: The rear retains the original drums, while the front has been updated with a Stainless Steel Brakes disc-brake conversion.
Wheels: 15x5 pizza cutters are followed by 15x15 welds.
Rubber: Skinnies up front, fatties out back is the maxim here-Moroso Drag Special 7.10x15s at the nose and 22.6x33 at the tail.
Body: While the engine was being repaired, the body was sent to Dale Henderson in St. Francis, Kansas. There, Dale would disassemble the body and interior to replace the rusted panels that were too corroded for repair. A pair of mint-condition grilles were spliced together to form one perfect Super Stock-appearing, single headlamp grille. A Joey Cole reproduction aluminum Hemi Super Stock scoop was added to the hood. Once the paint was applied, the body was sent to Galen Frick for reassembly.
Paint: After the body was straightened, it was repainted in factory-correct '64 Plymouth White by Dale Henderson.
Interior: reassembled after the paint cured, the Plymouth was sent to Rick Fisher in Augusta, Kansas. There, Gary Ball door panels were installed, while Rick stitched up the rest of the bright red vinyl and carpeting. A reconditioned instrument cluster and factory-appearing N.O.S. steering wheel were also installed when Rick blocked off the radio and heater control plates just like the A990 Super Stockers of yesterday.