Paul Emiro's '69 Plymouth...
Paul Emiro's '69 Plymouth Sport Satellite convertible is built to cruise, with a 340-inch Magnum small-block that gets over 20 mpg on the highway-on 87-octane gas!
Mention the name "Frankenstein" and most people either think of Mary Shelley's classic novel or the 1931 feature film version of it that made Boris Karloff a big star or Mel Brooks' 1975 parody, Young Frankenstein. But mention that name to Lutz, Florida's Paul Emiro, and he'll show you a Mopar that doesn't look freakish, doesn't sound (too) brutish, and is a very comfortable in-town and long-distance cruiser.
Paul's "Project Frankenstein" started with one of the rarest '69 Plymouths ever made, per Galen Govier. But it's not one of the sixteen 426 Hemi-powered '69 GTX convertibles or twelve '69 Road Runner drop-tops built with the Hemi. Instead, Paul's project began life as a Sport Satellite convertible, with a two-barrel-equipped 318 under the hood and a three-on-the-tree manual transmission. Galen says that just 14 Sport Satellite convertibles rolled out of St. Louis Assembly so equipped, but Paul says that he doesn't know if his car was ordered that way by its first owner, or was a "Sales Bank" car that resulted from an order-computer hiccup that also gave the world some '69 Chrysler New Yorkers with three-on-the-tree and CHP steering and brakes (i.e., nonpower) that year.
Listed for sale on eBay, the Sport Satellite had about 133,000 original miles on it when Paul found it in a barn in Lynchburg, Virginia. The rarity of this model/option/body style combo didn't stop Paul from wanting to build something out of it. But instead of going the GTX or Road Runner clone/tribute route, he kept it a Sport Satellite-one keeping true to its regular-gas-fueled roots. "It was in planning for about a year, and then it took about a year and a half to get everything found so we could go on the '06 Hot Rod Power Tour," Paul says. "The car's still got little 'funnies' and things, so we're still trying to get them worked out."
Back in 1969, the Sport Satellite was the top trim level among Plymouth's non-high-performance B-Bodies, with a four-door sedan joining the hardtop, convertible, and wagon that year. In the sales brochure, a two-page spread featured a Sport Satellite hardtop parked next to a vintage gas pump-a vintage regular gas pump, emphasizing the line's style-to-fit-your-budget nature.
This 340 Magnum was done "the...
This 340 Magnum was done "the hard way," starting with an '00 5.2L Magnum block and cam. The combination of mildly ported Magnum heads and an ACCEL GEN III fuel-injection system gives this car great all-around performance.
That combination of style and performance on regular gas eventually came together for Paul, but not until the as-found car was first taken apart down to its original unibody. Larry Sampson at Tampa, Florida's Zambito Auto Body handled the bodywork, and also added structural mods and upgrades, such as subframe connectors, new seat mounts on the floors, and a new transmission tunnel and crossmember. Sampson also sprayed on the Silver Frost paint (a recent Lincoln hue), while the Bumper Boyz restored the front and rear bumpers before replating them. The hood is a fiberglass repop of the "flat" non-GTX/Road Runner '68-'69 Belvedere/Satellite hood by AAR Fiberglass-in fact, this is the first one of its kind made by AAR.
Under that hood is a 340 Magnum that Paul says was "done the hard way"-and is a work of mechanical art, one with 10:1 compression. "The fellow who's built all my engines for the past 40 years and I spent a year designing this engine," says Paul.
Starting with an '00 5.2L Magnum block and camshaft, Paul increased its displacement. He says, "It's bored out to 3.925 inches, which is actually the same bore size as Pontiac's 326, and aftermarket Manley 6-inch connecting rods with 2-inch rod journals." With those additions, the Magnum's displacement came out to just about 340 ci.