You've seen 'em. Cars advertised for sale that not only look good from 20 feet, but from an even greater distance-from a picture in an ad (online or print) to your eyeballs. The ad copy lists the year, make, series, body style, and features the car has, at a price that seems nice.
Greg Bolton-built 426 Hemi sports Mopar aluminum heads topped by an Edelbrock intake and t
Maybe there's something missing . . . something you wouldn't know without an up-close look. So it was when Steve Sommers found a '66 Plymouth Satellite convertible via an online ad. He's wanted one of these since high school, one of the 2,759 drop-top Satellites made that year-the second-rarest mid-size Plymouth body style made in 1966, after the Belvedere II convertible. "This was a car that I'd been looking for forever, a car I really wanted," says Steve. "I had been looking for the right one for about ten or fifteen years, and I really thought I'd found the one that I wanted, that was optioned correctly. I wanted a big-block car."
And that's what it was, one with a 383/727 powertrain. Advertised for sale in Maryland, as a "restored" car, Steve had it shipped to his Riverside, California, home after he bought it. He drove it for about a year and then looked into turning his score into a "Hemi tribute."
Custom-fabbed four-link suspension with QA1 coilovers and a Speedway Engineering sway bar
As soon as Steve pulled the 383 out, he started to see what was really inside and under his B-Body. Or, more precisely, what wasn't there. "I'd finished the Hemi and dynoed it, took the existing engine out, and started finding rust," he says. "I just found more and more and more of it." At that point, Steve was referred to Pat McCarthy at PSM Performance in Riverside (by Bob Mazzolini, who was set to build a 727 for the Satellite). After finding even more rust under layers of undercoating and filler, Pat recommended a complete teardown and rebuild. "We put it on a frame machine and got the ride height to where I knew I wanted it," says Steve. "We completely gutted it, cut the entire floor out of the car, and then we built the frame underneath it on the frame machine." That square-tube frame added the structure the Satellite needed, and-thanks to channelling the floorpan over it-the Satellite sits lower than stock, with no trace of the frame visible without lifting the car.
After the rust was cut out, the Satellite needed structure to handle the Hemi's torque-in
Underneath, major changes were in store. At Pat's suggestion, Steve scrapped the OEM front torsion bar/rear leaf suspension system for No Limits' tubular A-arms in front and a four-link rear setup in back with a Strange Engineering-built Dana 60 rearend filled with a 3.73-geared True Track differential. Also included in the chassis hardware: Rack-and-pinion steering, Speedway Engineering sway bars front and rear, QA1 coilovers at each corner, plus a set of Wilwood discs and Toyo-shod Boyd Coddington Classic II wheels.
The underneath is just as clean as the top side, and you can see the Gear Vendors Under/Ov
After all that work by PSM-which included shaving off the stock body trim-the Satellite was just about ready for the Hemi, which patiently awaited its new home during the body-resto process. Instead of a crate engine, Steve had Greg Bolton in Jefferson City, Missouri, build one with an Eagle crankshaft, Manley rods and KB pistons, a Comp Cams solid-lifter camshaft, Mopar aluminum heads, and an Edelbrock dual four-barrel intake wearing a pair of 600-cfm Holleys. To make sure the Hemi has enough lube, the guys at PSM also fabricated a custom oil pan and modified the stock pickup to work with it. Behind it is that Bob Mazzolini-built 727 shifted by a B&M Quik Stick using the original Satellite console shifter stick, and a Gear Vendors Under/Overdrive. Knowing that a factory 22-inch radiator wouldn't cut it, Steve added a Be Cool system to ensure no steam-emitting cruises.