Crazy Old Stuff

saw in one of the Mopar magazines that a 1967 Hemi Belvedere was discovered recently in far away Finland. While that’s cool enough, the car in question happens to be one of the four door Street Hemis the factory never built. Okay, by now we all know better than to say the word never when it comes to Hemi cars; or cars of any type really. But along with the handful of documented four door Street Hemis built in 1966 – one of which resides in Big Daddy Don Gartlits’ Florida Museum of Drag Racing, these oddball combinations are among my favorite Mopars of all time.

Looking over the magazine article photos of that light blue Hemi car I was reminded of some of the odd Mopars I’ve stumbled across over the years. No, I’ve never found anything as wild as a four door Street Hemi, but I’ve had my mind blown several times by far more mundane stuff. Here are some of the highlights.

I love junkyards. Especially those located in southern California where a steady flow of fifties and sixties Mopars are still making their way onto the self-serve auto wrecking circuit. At the Ontario Pick-A-Part I once saw a ’63 Chrysler Newport four door with a 361 2-barrel mill and three-speed manual transmission. The thing that surprised me was the shift wasn’t a column-mounted affair but rather it was on the floor…and this was a low-line bench seat car, not a glitzy 300 with bucket seats. I remember being stopped in my tracks when I saw the spindly chrome shift handle poking up from a factory-issue floor hump and rubber floor mat. This wasn’t some Hurst Indy swap either; it was all factory-legit.

I felt sad for the faded and worn – but rust free - stick shifted Newport and began conjuring ways to save it. In the end, I left it behind knowing that I was probably the only guy who would care and I already had enough money pits and unfinished projects to last for years.

Sadly when I returned a week later on another parts hunt, somebody had removed the transmission, big block bell housing and flywheel and chopped the floor hump out of the car along with the factory clutch-brake pedal unit. But remember, this car had a Borg Warner T-85 three-speed… the same transmission used in 1962-’63 manual transmission Max Wedge applications. Somebody likely knew this and scored the gearbox for resale to a Max Wedge collector – for a healthy profit. I just wonder if the big C-body takes a different extension shaft and housing than a B-body piece. Anybody know?

I’d imagine a good T-85 would have to be a $300 to $500 item, right? At a purchase price of under $100 (the flat rate charged by Pick-A-Part for a transmission) the scavenger had a pretty good pay day – at the expense of this rare, unmolested (until now) old Chrysler. As for the unique floor hump, it was a C-body specific stamping so I’d bet the market for such an odd item would be far more limited. Well, at least these goodies were spared. The car was unceremoniously crushed a few weeks later.