The year 1966 was a very significant one for motor heads. That year marked the first 426 Hemi to hit the streets in a production car. We're sure there were some prowling the streets that slipped out the back door of Chrysler's R&D skunk works, but, officially, the Hemi became an option in 1966. But 1994 was an even more significant year for Ray Dupuis when he took delivery of this '66 Hemi Belvedere I-as a trade.
You see, ten years ago Ray helped his buddy put his car together. He also supplied his good friend with a Hemi for his project car. One act of generosity was rewarded with another, and, in return, his good friend gave him the Belvedere. Oddly enough, of the two Hemi Belvederes sold by his local Ottowa dealership, Ray has owned them both! Anyhow, back to the topic at hand. Ray got the B-body in trade. it was a shell of its former self, but that didn't matter to Ray, as he knew what he had in his possession, and the significance a '66 Hemi car held in the annals of the Detroit musclecar wars.
Ray located straight and relatively rust-free body panels from Jim Drane of Clearwater, Florida, and got busy straightening out the sheetmetal in preparation for paint, after which it was liberally slathered in the original Bronze Poly Metallic hue.
The interior presented a different case entirely. Seems a previous owner liked '67 GTX interiors better than the one offered in the '66 Belvedere I. But it didn't stop there, as the door panels and seats were covered in that rare Naugahyde material in a diamond-tuck pattern. Give it a rest-it was the '70s after all. Finding the original bronze vinyl was the most difficult portion of the restoration, but Ray is quite resourceful and managed to scrounge some up.
Don McCallum of Vankleek, Ontario, was commissioned to rebuild the Hemi to stock specs, but added a Bullet Racing Cams solid flat-tappet cam of his own secret specifications to the mix. A Chrysler electronic ignition was chosen for reliable spark production, and the 30-year-old 211/48-inch headers were maintained to allow the Hemi to breath a bit better. The exhaust system is otherwise stock. Some guys have more fun than others; this applies particularly to those whose cars have a manual transmission. Ray is one of those lucky guys and rows his own with the original 833 Hemi box. Oddly enough, Ray had purchased the Dana out of this particular car 30 years prior and had given it to the friend who gave him the Plymouth in trade. He got it back with the car, replete with a 3.54 Sure Grip housed in the massive carrier.
Ray drags the old Plymouth out to car shows and cruises whenever the weather permits. Even though he won't admit it, we're sure that he shows the occasional lowered import foolish enough to mess with the bronze boxcar the significance of a '66 Belvedere - that is, a '66 Hemi Belvedere. Puts a smile on our face just thinking about it.