Sometimes all a Mopar needs is a little "freshening." That not only means changes made during a particular vehicle's production history, but also what can happen long after it rolls off the assembly line.
The freshening that Elwood Engel's styling crew gave the '68 Mopar B-Bodies upgraded the look of all mid-sized Dodge and Plymouth lines, especially Plymouth's. Gone was the creased-edge design of '66-'67, replaced with rounded lines and "Coke bottle" contours on the rear quarters.
Plymouth's mid-sized model range got an update for '68, too-not just the Road Runner coupe. The Sport Satellite hardtop, convertible, and woodgrain-sided wagon also debuted at the start of the model year, and the Road Runner hardtop came out at mid-year. Meanwhile, Belvedere was made the base B-Body series, without the previous Roman numeral designations.
That meant the Satellite series, once the top of the mid-sized line in 1966, was now smack-dab in the middle of it-but still a contender in the sales race against Chevy's Chevelle Malibu and Ford's Torino.
383 was the biggest engine...
383 was the biggest engine choice offered in Satellites in 1968, and Joel's has a rebuilt four-barrel-equipped one, under a (repro) air cleaner "pie tin."
Joel Bourdeau's '68 Satellite convertible has some correct-for-'68 additions inside and out. "I had the hood put on because it looks good with that hood," he says of the styling change he made up front by adding the GTX/Road Runner hood. "But the bucket seats were extra (factory options) in 1968."
Those buckets-with-center-armrest front seats, and the Sport Satellite/GTX taillight/rear deck trim panel give Joel's Satellite a look like the "Silver Special" Plymouths that Ma Mopar used to bring out in the mid and late '60s. Those included metallic paint (silver or other colors taken from the big Chrysler color selection), fancier trim inside and out, plus the TorqueFlite automatic was no extra charge.
Are the scoops on the hood...
Are the scoops on the hood functional? Even if they aren't, they look good and provide the ideal location for the "383" badges.
But there's more to this B-Body than just trim. It's powered by a 383, the same size engine the car was built with at St. Louis, Missouri. It also makes Joel's car another one of the less-than-100-ever-built Mopar rarities.Out of 1,771 Satellite convertibles made in 1968, it's one of only 71 built with the optional 383 big-block. (The other 1,700 drop-top '68 Satellites had either the 225-inch Slant Six or the 318-inch LA-series small-block V-8.). The 383 now wears a four-barrel in place of the original two-barrel carburetor, under a correct-for-'68 "un-silenced" air cleaner with a "383 four-barrel" pie tin completing the look. There's plenty of other '68-correct stuff under the hood-hoses, belts, emission sticker-and that 383, says Joel, drives perfectly.
Joel found his Satellite at Auto Trader (a classic-car dealer in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada,) and he made room for it by trading a Shelby-clone Mustang convertible that he had. "I was not a Ford guy from the beginning, and I was looking to trade it," says Joel.
When looking further into this car's history, Joel found that it had been auctioned at Barrett-Jackson's Scottsdale, Arizona, collector-car auction back in 2006, then brought into Canada before he acquired it in June of that year.
Unfortunately, after Joel had owned this B-Body for a while, it took an unscheduled trip-with no one driving. "There was an incident with the steering column bushing. It fell off, and the car ran right into the middle of the Castor River." Fortunately, the Satellite was recovered with less effort than it took to retrieve space-travelling satellites from the oceans, and the car was sent away to A.S.E. Motorsports in Osgood, Ontario, to dry out and have its mechanical and electrical systems restored and/or replaced as needed.
Optional Satellite front buckets...
Optional Satellite front buckets with center armrest/rear benches wear reproduction maroon vinyl seat covers. The driver seat also has a six-way adjust. The dash wears optional 0-8,000-rpm tach and "thumbwheel" AM radio. 1968 was the first year that B-Body cars had A/C outlets in the dash.
That work was finished in the summer of 2008, and we caught up with Joel at Carlisle, where his Satellite was one of the Celebrity Picks at Chryslers at Carlisle. You could not tell that it had an adventure in the river or that it was not originally built at St. Louis with the GTX hood and rear trim.