This Is Not A Restored Car!
It is, however, a well-preserved survivor with about 80% of its original paint still intact. It retains every original light bulb, the original brakes and even the factory-installed windshield wiper blades.
By Greg Rager, MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Member and automotive journalist for 30+ years
In 1967, working as a mechanic at Leitenberger Chrysler/Plymouth in Johnstown, PA, I fell in love with the new 1968 Plymouth GTX. But, financially I wasn’t able to do anything about it at that point. Plan “B” was to save my money during the coming year and buy a ’69 GTX.
When July 1968 rolled around, I had actually saved some money. Together with what I would get from selling the car I was driving at the time, it would serve as a down payment on my first new car. When I ordered the GTX, Chrysler was still shipping 1968s, but you could no longer order a ’68. The dealer could order a 1969, but we had no pictures, and no one had as yet seen a 1969 – ANYTHING – including me. But I was impatient, since I had a buyer hot for my old car. I ordered this GTX sight unseen; it was the first GTX in town, and the first ’69 Plymouth received by the dealership. Sticker price was $3,820.14 – I paid $3,300.00 (employee discount), plus tax. At the time, I was 22 years old, making minimum wage – $2.25 per hour – and didn’t have to jump through any hoops for the bank to finance it.
The car arrived on a Thursday and, Friday evening after work, I was off to Columbus, OH for the weekend to visit friends and family. I believe in the “highway” method of breaking in a new car – the 250-mile trip would do just that. The only preparation for the trip was draining the factory “break-in” oil and replacing it with Wolf’s Head 30W Racing Oil and a new Mopar filter during the “dealer-prep,” which I personally performed. In Columbus, the car sat at my aunt’s all day Saturday, but Sunday an old Navy buddy and I were at National Trail Raceway and I was beating on it down the quarter-mile. It ran 14.38/98.5, fresh off the trailer. The following summer, after re-jetting the carburetor, modifying the distributor advance curve and bumping the timing 10 degrees over factory spec, it ran a 13.98/99.8 quarter-mile, on street tires. The GTX averaged 14.6 mpg on Sunoco 260 (105-octane) during the break-in trip to Columbus. It was only ever beaten once in a LOT of street races.
Back then, I never had any plan or expectation it would one day be a valued collector car. For the most part, it was just a car. During the first couple years I modified the engine, but never threw any of the original pieces away, enabling me to return it to stock condition in later years. I did not, however, attempt to put it back to 100% concours-correct or showroom-like condition. The fact that it’s seen a mere 17,000 miles in 45 years is more dumb luck than a master plan. I’m pretty lazy when it comes to cleaning a car, so I always had a “beater” to drive when the weather was nasty – and the GTX sat clean in the garage. It’s only been in the rain 4 times. But to this day, it remains a car that I routinely take out, drive (and yes, beat on) rather than a pampered trailer queen.
Today, the car and I have moved to Florida to live out our Golden Years. But neither of us are retired. We still participate in car shows together, often bringing home yet another “dust catcher” to add to the collection. The GTX is a 375 hp, 440 cid, 4-speed with a 3.54:1 Dana 60 rearend. It still runs every bit as well as it did when new. As for me, I’m afraid my performance has fallen off significantly over the years.
I’m often asked why I don’t drive it more and get some enjoyment out of it. I just smile and say, “I use it only for ego trips”.
Jones Garage will be a monthly column by Kevin Jones, President of MIDFLORIDA and certified car guy to talk about his cars and automobilia and the cars of MIDFLORIDA’s members. In addition to his stories, we will feature a different member’s car and story each month. Thanks to member Greg Rager for submitting his story. Please email your car story with a picture of your car to Julie Townsend at jtownsend@MIDFLORIDA.com
A special prize will be awarded if we use your car in an issue of Jones Garage.