Sometimes, it all boils down to who you know. A simple business acquaintance allowed Tony Tidwell to purchase this '69 Plymouth GTX, an original 440 car.
Tony owns and operates High Tech Transmission in Loganville, Georgia. One of the men who towed a lot of cars into Tony's shop happened to be a Chevy restorer. When he found out about Tony's interest in Mopars, particularly GTXs, he clued him in to a neglected piece of iron in the back of his garage: a '69 GTX.
"I went out to look at it, and it wasn't in bad shape," Tony says. "It was sitting under three feet of dust and boxes, and it was stripped. The owner wanted to restore it, but he was a Chevy man, and it had been in his garage for about seven years. The 440 was gone. Someone had replaced it with a 383, and there were no bumpers. But, it had the original quarters, floorpans, trunk floor, and very little rust. I paid $2,000 for it."
Tony had long been an admirer of the GTX, but now, for the first time, he had one of his own. "I had a friend who had Challengers and Road Runners, and I helped him work on them a lot," he says. But, for his first Mopar, Tony picked a pretty elusive model and found the parts-gathering process full of frustration.
"Restoring the [body] was not fun," he says. "There's not too many parts for the GTX out there. Since I got the car, there are only two grilles that I've seen." Luckily for him, the original Air Grabber hood was with the car, and Tony had it restored. But he also uses a scooped fiberglass lid from Year One to accommodate the Holley Dominator carb.
He chose a custom Hot Rod Red from House of Kolor as the exterior color. It is obviously not a factory shade, but to Tony, hot rods need to be red.
"I do all my custom cars in red," he says. "The car was originally B5 blue, but blue stresses me. I don't know why."
Tony says he has no idea where the original engine might be, but he knew the 383 that had been subbed in was not going to cut it. He sold the 383 to a Dart owner and was able to locate a '69 440 block in Stone Mountain, Georgia. He stroked it to 4.150 inches and bored it .060 over. He then equipped it with an Eagle crankshaft and rods, 13:1 Bill Miller pistons, a Comp roller cam, Erson rocker arms, and Edelbrock aluminum heads, which were ported and polish-flowed.
Even though the original 440 was gone, the original tranny came with the car, and naturally, Tony handled the rebuild himself. He freshened the trans and hooked it up to a B&M shifter, an 11-inch TCI torque converter, and his own custom-built shift kit-all while keeping the citizens of Loganville shifting smoothly. He included a bolt-in sprag and did the manual-shift valvebody himself.
The original seats were still in place when Tony bought the GTX, but otherwise, a lot of replacement pieces were needed. Year One supplied the headliner, armrests, black carpet, door panels, and the black leather for the seats. There is also a stock radio ready to go into the dash. Even though the car was built for racing, all of the electrical systems are functional, including the headlights and turn signals. "Except the gas gauge," Tony adds, "I can't get that thing to work."
Tony also kept a street sense about this race car by leaving the factory suspension components intact. It still has the original torsion bars, and the leaf springs are still in place, as is the Dana 60 rearend. He has replaced the factory front discs with a new setup from Wilwood. "The factory discs had too much drag," Tony adds.
Another interior addition was the half rollcage Tony installed himself. "It does well for a heavy car with original [leafs] and torsion bars," he says. "It's temperamental, but it runs good when it's on. It's a trailer queen, but I do drive it some. When I take it to a show, though, it's either to show or race-not both. I can't stand being out [on the show field] and hearing [the races]. I want to say 'see you later,' and hit the track."
When Tony hit the track at the '02 Bristol Bash, he rung up a 9.8 e.t. at 135 mph. So Tony's GTX is a self-admitted trailer queen with a rollcage that runs 9.8's, but has full interior, working electrical, and factory suspension. Is this a street car? What do you think?