As a kid growing up in the '60s, when Darrell Deal would overhear his older brothers talking musclecars, the term GTX was often at the center of those discussions, and Darrell always wanted one of his own. A little over 10 years ago, he finally got the chance. While reading the morning paper one day in November 1992, he was in his favorite section-the antique and classic cars. He saw an ad for a '67 GTX and quickly called the owner and arranged to meet him that afternoon. When Darrell arrived to inspect the car, he found it was intact and drivable, but that was about all.
"It was in need of a lot of TLC," says Darrell, who resides in Lakeland, Florida. "There was a lot of rust in all the usual places: the wheelwells, the floor pans, under the decklid, and so on."
The car spent its first years in West Virginia, enduring the salt and other road hazards. The original interior had been covered with white, rolled and pleated crushed velour, complete with black buttons. Even though it was a long way from being the GTX he dreamed of, Darrell saw it as a diamond in the rough and put down $2,300 for it.
In the rough is exactly where the GTX would remain, sitting in Darrell's garage for the next four years. "Although the car was drivable, it was not reliable, so I drove it home and parked it," he says. "I had a lot of desire, but no time or money."
Eventually, Darrell decided it was time to bring the GTX back to life, and that is when he began making the contacts that would guide him through the process. He put in a request to Galen Govier to look up the car's background, and set off to begin disassembly. Darrell placed all the sub-assemblies in a storage facility for subsequent restoration and began looking for missing pieces.
"Finding parts was tough at times, and some of them were darn near impossible," he says. "I did find many reproduction parts at Year One." Then, while at a car show, Darrell was mingling with the Mopar crowd when two prominent names came up as sources for parts-Jim Drain and Terry Payton. "I was told Terry lived locally and had restored a GTX," Darrell says. "We met, and when I saw his car, it gave me some much-needed motivation. Terry had a lot of parts and a GTX that I could use for reference as I reassembled my car. If Terry didn't have something I needed, my friend Jim Drain did. I was blessed to have such talent around me during the project."
Darrell decided even though this car wasn't highly optioned from the factory, he would install as many factory options as possible, including an N.O.S. Transaudio AM radio (code 421).
He replaced all the rusted metal on the body and shipped it off in March 2001 to Jeff Smith at Jeff's Autobody and Collision in Lakeland. Jeff had to work in the GTX around his usual collision-repair work, so while Darrell was waiting for the body to be finished, he powder-coated the chassis parts and transmission case, and the chrome parts were sent out for replating.
"As luck would have it, my next-door neighbor and good friend, Larry O'Neal, offered to rebuild, balance, and blueprint the engine-one that would be befitting the GTX," Darrell says. Larry runs Larry's Performance Engines, also in Lakeland. Before Larry could cook up a 440 for the GTX, he gave Darrell a shopping list, which included: Edelbrock 6092 aluminum heads; a Torker single-plane aluminum intake; a Holley 850 double-pumper; a Comp 23-741-8 roller cam; solid lifters; Crane Gold race rockers; TRW L2355 pistons; and March Performance serpentine pulleys. Also on the list was a Milodon 7-quart oil pan with pickup; a true roller timing gearset; a Mopar Performance electronic ignition and aluminum water-pump housing; Dynomax headers with Stage 8 lockers; a Fluidamper balancer; and a K&N filter. All this was built around the factory rotating assembly.
"When Larry pulled those brand-spanking-new heads out of the box and commenced to porting and polishing, I thought I'd die," Darrell says. While Larry built the engine, Darrell and his 9-year-old daughter, Danielle, attempted their first transmission rebuild with a B&M TransKit in hand. "The instructions from B&M were clear and concise, so we had no difficulty rebuilding the 727," he says. "And needless to say, the engine turned out beautiful. With the engine on the stand and all the sub-assemblies restored, I waited anxiously for the bodywork."
Finally, Jeff needed a color code. "I wasn't really enthused about the factory [GG1] Dark Forest Green because I wanted the stripes to show well," Darrell says. "I did want to keep the spirit of the green and white factory colors somehow; the car just needed more pizzazz." For that, Darrell turned to his wife, Theresa, who picked out the Jalapeno Green Metallic. Black stripes and Pearl White interior from Legendary would complement the emerald color. Jeff painted the car with PPG basecoat/clearcoat and then wet-sanded and buffed it.
Soon, Darrell had the car back home and sitting on the chassis. After about four months of putting all the subassemblies back on the car, it was time to install the engine. In July 2001, with the help of Larry and Jeff, the 440 went into the engine bay. After everything was hooked up and the fluids were checked, it was time for the moment of truth.
With Larry working the throttle from the outside and Jeff standing by with a fire extinguisher, Darrell turned the key. The instant roar of the 440 was the sound of success. "After a little tweaking here and there, it was on to Step Two," Darrell says. "I put the gearshift into Reverse and held my breath. It worked, much to my amazement, and I backed out into the light of day with my prize."
Although the car has not yet been on the dyno, Larry estimates it is about a 500hp engine. After the glass was installed and the frontend aligned, the GTX was ready to hit the road. In November 2002, Darrell drove the car 120 miles up to Don Garlits' 15th Annual Mopars With Big Daddy show, and it won First Place in the Participants' Choice category. Now, after taking advantage of some great examples of GTX restoration, Darrell finally has a jewel of his own.