Thursday, September 20, 2012

Staked On Silver

Dave App’s ’65 Belvedere Goes All Out

Story by Geoff Stunkard

The 1960s produced many, if not most, of the Mopars that car enthusiasts still desire and search out.

In terms of rarity and reputation, at the top of that pantheon of power were the limited-edition Super Stock packages.
Between 1963 and 1968, Chrysler created special race-only vehicles that were modified with hotter hardware than anything that could be found on the showroom floor. Many of these cars paid dividends over the course of decades in actual racing action and a handful even ended up on the street. For Union, Ohio, car aficionado Dave App, the solution to having such a vehicle, though, was to build one from scratch.

“I had a ’70 Dart 340, but my wife didn’t like it because it had no power steering or power brakes,” he recalls. “I was looking for a ’63 Plymouth post coupe as a project, but met Clay Kossuth at the Mopar Nationals back in 2001, and that was how this car’s change began.”

At that time, Kossuth, who is a very active nostalgia racer, had over 500 earlier Mopars at his Missouri-based resale and parts business, Clay & Sons LLC. One was a very clean 1965 Plymouth Belvedere. As sold off of the new car lot, the car was built with a 225-cid “leaning tower of power” Slant Six and a three-speed column-shift manual transmission. Dave realized the solid car would be a terrific beginning. He drove 1,200 round-trip miles to the Show-Me State to bring the vintage Belvedere to its new home.

The original six-cylinder headed out into the parts pile. In its place, Dave went big, choosing 528 inches of Mopar Performance Hemi crate motor to go between the fenders. He also selected a Keisler five-speed Perfect FIT TKO600 kit to back it up and a Dana 60 out back with a 3.54 gear. This was turned over to a build shop who, Dave now recalls, was probably not his best choice. Let’s just say it was an expensive learning curve.

“This guy frankly was overwhelmed by what needed to be done, and it took longer than planned,” he says. “So, when he finished up the work I had agreed to have him do and I finally went to get it, he gave me a bill for an additional $3,000 and told me he would hide my car unless I paid up. My brother was with me when all of this happened and witnessed it. In the end, I paid it, but I do not think he deserves credit for this job because the way he handled it.”

After that not-so-cheap trick, the Plymouth went on to find a much brighter future, literally. The bodywork was handled by Ben Wolf, who added a circa-’65 replacement hood scoop and covered the metal with Mercedes 01 Brilliant Silver paint. The appearance is augmented by American Racing “Rev”-type wheels and Indy 500 brand tires. The suspension was upgraded by Richard Doane with new torsion bars from Mancini Racing, a new steering box from Steer & Gear, and slotted rotor disc brakes on all four corners supplied by The Right Stuff. The rear suspension remains basically stock, with air shocks for ride control.

Inside, the car was outfitted with a Super Stock-style interior, plus a LeCarra steering wheel, the Keisler floor shift, and Auto Meter tach and gauges. A dash-mounted switch activates the very cool Quick Time Performance exhaust cutouts that were spliced into the full tti exhaust system. The car has not been down a racetrack, since Dave prefers to leave it as a mechanical bazooka that he carries down to the ice cream store on weekends.

He has had the car for 10 years now, and the money and effort expended during the three-year build clearly shows when he displays the car. For the most part, however, it’s not just about looks. Dave has been able to enjoy driving this tribute to the “roaring ’65s” on both boulevard and highway, thanks to the overdrive package.

In mining, staking a claim requires proof and purity. Dave’s silver gamble resulted in something that would be treasured by whoever owned it.

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