If you told Jean Hagan that she was driving a man's car, she would probably laugh, mash her foot to the floor, and leave two strips of Red Line tire marks down the pavement. But, technically, you would be right. You see, Plymouth promoted the Belvedere GTX as the Gentleman's muscle car. Sort of a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde mentality: You can go to work and be a proper citizen, but then enjoy a dose of the potent serum that is a 375-horse 440 wrapped in crisp, stunning bodywork. It turns out that its great looks and performance don't just appeal to men, however.
Much like Mr. Hyde's internal conflict of whether to take the serum again, it's highly addictive, and begins to take control. Jean's first encounter with this potent combination came when she was only 14 years old. "My brother, Jerry, picked me up so I could see his new apartment and he was driving his roommate's '67 GTX," she says. "It was a red with black stripes convertible and I was instantly hooked and had to own one." Jerry dipped into the throttle a little and gave Jean a taste of what the Plymouth could do.
Eight years after this first encounter, she was visiting a friend, and a friend of the friend, Brian, stopped by to show off his new demonstrator car they just received at the dealership. "It was a Honda, and I commented on how it was a nice car but it didn't beat my favorite car," she recalls. "He asked me what that was, and I told him it was a '67 Plymouth GTX, and I thought he was going to pass out!"
Brian was thoroughly impressed, and asked her out on a date. The two dated for several weeks before they went to go look at a black Hemi GTX that Brian had purchased. After that, Jean really wanted to get one of her own, and the two began the hunt. They came across this '67 that was in fairly good condition in January 1985. The paint was faded, the air conditioning was missing, but the interior was good. Sure, the carpet was a little faded and the headliner had moth damage, but it ran. It wasn't too far away from home, so they went to meet with the owner. "We negotiated a price and I drove it home." Since it was the heart of winter, Jean wasn't able to enjoy it too much, but she did get a license plate that said "HER GTX," to avoid any confusion.
In 1988, Brian and Jean were married and her dad drove her to the church in the GTX. Jean filled us in that "as several years and many car shows passed, my GTX was now hauling some precious cargo, my two sons."
Well, the years went by and the GTX seemed to be holding up well, but one day in May 2001 she took the car out for a quick spin around the block to get ready for a car show. She hit the brakes and the pedal went straight to the floor. Not good! She limped the B-Body home and called Brian, upset about what happened. When he came home, he assessed the damage and, sure enough, the brakes were shot. He turned to Jean and said "Merry Christmas!" This meant it was time for a full restoration to be performed on the GTX.
That night, Brian began to disassemble the car. Jean couldn't believe that after 16 years of owning the GTX, it was finally going to receive the restoration it always deserved. Once the car was in pieces, the first thing to be sent out was the engine. It was handed off to Bob's Machine Shop in Bristol, Connecticut. Next was the body, which was stripped down to shell form before it was trailered to Ron's Auto Madness in Bristol. "We were told that the ETA for the restoration was about one year, give or take a few months," she recalls.
Next on the agenda was to get the shopping taken care of. Since this was to be a complete restoration, if a part couldn't be fully restored, it was replaced with the correct reproduction piece from YearOne. "Every day seemed like Christmas as box upon box was delivered, filled with shiny chrome, clips, hoses, wheels, seat covers, and cushions. The remaining chrome items were then sent to Baron and Young Metal Finishing in Bristol for replating.
In January 2002, the engine was ready to be picked up. Brian brought it home, covered it, and tucked it into the corner of the garage where it awaited the rest of the car to be finished. He then recushioned and recovered the original seats, put a cover over them, and tucked them away too. All that was left was the body.
"I tried to distract myself with my kids so I wouldn't think about the car all the time," she says. In spite of her best efforts, the curiosity became overbearing and Jean had to take a look at the progress of her B-Body over at Ron's. Much to her surprise, the body was in decent shape and a quick call to Auto Body Specialties had a new fender on its way. The crew at Ron's continued to work away at the car, smoothing out every last dent and ding. "I got a call in early February 2003, telling me that the car was ready for paint. Brian and I went down to see it get painted and that's when it really hit me," she says. "Tears started to well up and a quick hug from my husband made everything better." Overcome with emotions and happiness, they left Ron's and were able to pick the car up a few weeks later.
Brian began putting the car back together piece by piece. "The weeks flew by and my GTX was looking good," she recalls. "The interior was in, chrome was on, and the wheels and tires were installed." The last items to be installed were the engine, transmission, and exhaust. One night in April, the engine was ready to be started. Sadly, Jean was off with the kids at the circus. "I didn't know this was the night that we were going to start the engine, but I made a previous promise to the kids," she says. "As I sat there watching the clowns-[at the circus], I kept my eye on the time. Then my cell phone rang. It was Brian and I could immediately hear my GTX was alive and breathing!"
With just a few more parts, the restoration was complete. Jean recalls the first moment she sat behind the wheel and fired it up after the restoration. The tears of happiness clouded her vision as she shifted the car into drive to head off. It had been almost 25 years since she bought the GTX and her dream car was now a reality. "Every time I look at my car I still have the same feeling I had when I was 14. Only this time, I really own the '67 GTX." Jean has been enjoying her car ever since the restoration as she shows it off and enjoys it on the streets. The 25-year addiction was a habit she hasn't kicked and she doesn't plan to quit.
'67 Plymouth Belvedere GTX
Owned by: Jean Hagan Bristol, Connecticut
- Engine: The original RB was sent off to Bob's Machine Shop in Bristol, Connecticut, to have all the machine work and assembly performed. It was bored .030-over and pumps out 445 cubic inches now. Inside, Keith Black pistons are attached to Eagle rods and a stock Chrysler crankshaft. The original heads received some bowl work to complement the custom Comp Cams .510-inch lift 512-duration hydraulic camshaft. An Edelbrock intake and Holley carburetor take care of the air and fuel as it's ingested through the dual snorkel intake. A factory replacement exhaust sits behind the lightly-modded engine, and it delivers all the sounds she's been looking for since she was 14.
- Transmission: Mated to the 440 is a TorqueFlite built by Economy Transmission with a Dynamic 3,500-stall converter and B&M Shift Kit.
- Rearend: A Dana 9 3/4-inch rear is filled a Sure Grip differential and 4.10 gears.
- Suspension: The front uses the factory torsion bars, and Super Stock springs and a pinion snubber are used in the rear. Stock shocks were retained.
- Brakes: Factory drums.
- Wheels and Tires: Factory Magnum wheels were ordered through YearOne, and a set of F70-14 Red Line tires were mounted for the classic look.
- Paint and Body: Ron's Auto Madness in Bristol performed all the bodywork and paint. A replacement fender from Auto Body Specialties was the only new metal needed before it was sprayed in the original Light Bronze Metallic color.
- Interior: YearOne parts were used inside to bring the cabin back to life. Brian Hagan, her husband, performed all the work.