- Jan 31, 2008
1968 Plymouth GTX 440 Six Pack - the original performance wagon
A performance wagon might sound like a relatively new concept, but this bad boy was tearing up the streets with kids and pets in the back seat long before the Audi RS6 Avant and BMW M5 Touring existed. The story goes that a Chicago man with five children purchased a Plymouth Satellite wagon out of necessity, but craved more performance. When the Road Runner 440 Six Pack was introduced, the man called up Mr. Norm's Grand Spaulding Dodge and asked if it was possible to shoehorn the motor into his wagon. They were indeed up to the task, and the GTX 440 Six Pack Wagon was born.
The car eventually found its way to California, where it was converted to a 4-speed and fitted with bucket seats from a GTX. It was ultimately retired and sat in a back yard for nearly a decade, but Larry Weiner of Performance West discovered it and restored it to its former glory. Follow the jump for the full details on the restoration, and check out the gallery of high resolution photos below.
[Source: Performance West Group]
Rumor has it that in 1968, a long time Mopar enthusiast named Herb purchased a new Plymouth Satellite station wagon. Living in suburban Chicago with his wife and five children, a wagon was the vehicle of necessity, rather than choice. But Herb had never lost his enthusiasm for the red hot performance cars he owned in his youth, and he continued to lust for a vehicle with the kind of power that he had once enjoyed.
In 1969, with the release of the Road Runner 440 Six Pack, Herb could stand it no longer. According to the story, Herb called Mr. Norm's Grand Spaulding Dodge, the Mecca for ultimate performance Mopars and asked if there was any way that his nearly new Plymouth could be enhanced with the same 440 Six Pack that made the just released A12 Road Runner and Superbee such street and strip terrors. Herb was assured that his B-Body wagon was a fraternal twin to the Road Runner and could be fitted with the full complement of parts. In fact, the swap was nothing more than a bolt in and all of the parts for the conversion, including the 440 engine, were in stock. Without hesitation, Herb brought the wagon to Mr. Norm's and a week later took delivery of his Plymouth wagon, one that was quite unlike any other.
After a driving his Six Pack Wagon for about a year, Herb's brother in law from California flew in for a visit. Herb took him for a ride in the wild wagon, and his brother in law fell in love with it. Long story short, he made Herb an offer he couldn't refuse and the wagon headed west on Route 66 to Southern California. Once there, the car was further enhanced with a factory Six Pack lift off hood, something that was not practical in Chicago, converted to a four speed and the interior was upgraded with buckets and a console from a GTX.
Fast forward to today. The Plymouth wagon has been found sitting in a back yard in California, where it has been for nearly a decade. While some of the go fast goodies are missing and the car is somewhat neglected, it's rust free, completely intact, and ready to be restored to its former greatness.
Classic design is one of the hallmarks of the late 1960's Plymouth, and the GTX 440 Six Pack Wagon has been carefully restored to maintain its timeless original appearance. In doing so, we have made only the most subtle visual changes, creating a vehicle that is loaded with "treats." While the uninitiated may overlook some of these nuances, true aficionados will find this "phantom" GTX wagon teeming numerous detail improvements that mark this as a vehicle that is not only true to the era from which it came, but one that incorporates many of the latest improvements, making it as contemporary and relevant today as when it was first built.
A prime example of this philosophy is the paint. While the color is reminiscent of the original "B-5 Blue," the brilliant "B-5 Super Blue" Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes Planet Colors hue is a modern interpretation of the original that takes advantage of the latest in paint technology.
The subtle enhancements continue with the choice of the period correct Six Pack Lift Off Hood that signifies the potent Mopar mill that lurks just beneath it. Other items to look for are the classic GTX dual side accent stripes and emblems. Hurst style chrome wheels by Oasis and Pirelli PZero tires work in concert with the lowered suspension, creating the kind of aggressive appearance that makes this such an interesting vehicle.
The interior mirrors the theme of that runs throughout the Plymouth. One of the highlights are the authentic 1968 GTX bucket seats that have been covered with magnificent Katzkin hand sewn white leather, with stitching that remains true to the original pattern, flanking a stock console that frames a Hurst Competition Plus Shifter. Contrasting with the white leather, B-5 Super Blue covers_all of the interior surfaces, resulting in a harmony of classic inspired textures and colors. Auto Custom Carpets provided the original style loop carpeting in blue, adding continuity to the theme. Adding interest and detail to the interior, a complete GTX dashboard and instrument panel replaces the mundane stock dash and cluster.
The GTX 440 Six Pack Wagon accelerates us back to a time when life may have been less complicated, but was more fun and in some ways, far more exciting than today. We cruised the drive-in, stopping to load up on hamburgers and fries, in a time when we could work off the calories with our sheer exuberance.
True to its name, the Plymouth sports a full on 440 Six Pack engine, with a trio of Holley carbs perched on an Edelbrock aluminum intake manifold. Backing up the engine is a bullet proof Hays Clutch that transmits the power to a genuine A833 4 Speed manual transmission armed with a Hurst Competition Plus Shifter.
The stance of the GTX 440 Six Pack Wagon makes no bones about its purpose. Sitting slightly lower than stock, it still stands tall and imposing compared to today's low slung cars. Period perfect Hurst style wheels complement the vintage appearance of the wagon, complemented by Pirelli PZero ultra high performance radial tires. Enhancing handling are Hotchkis Performance sway bars, heavy duty 440 torsion bars and a completely refreshed suspension system, both front and rear that features Eaton Detroit leaf springs and Edelbrock IAS Performer Shock Absorbers. The appearance is nothing less than you would expect, in addition to offering the kind of smooth ride and great handling essential for modern high speed motoring. And filling up the open areas between the spokes on the wheels are Stainless Steel Brakes Corp. Force-10 Tri Power high performance disc brakes at all four corners that look great and insure safe, sure stops from quarter miles blasts or just canyon carving forays.
The Plymouth GTX 440 Six Pack Wagon is a great example of the incredible performance of the late 1960's big block Mopars. And complementing the ground pounding performance is timeless styling that leaves no question what year and brand of vehicle it is, unlike today's generic, appliance like front wheel drive cars.
The Plymouth GTX 440 Six Pack Wagon is the absolute antithesis of these seemingly nameless, faceless commodity vehicles. The GTX 440 Six Pack Wagon beckons you to pack your bags, fill up a large cooler with your favorite refreshments and get ready to go cruisin' in style.
The 1968 Plymouth GTX 440 Six Pack Wagon is a perfect expression of what a confident, exciting time the 1960's were. It makes no pretense or excuses for what it is. One thing is sure; The GTX 440 Six Pack Wagon isn't politically correct. Rather, it's brash and arrogant, confident and ambitious, like the generation of Americans that inspired it and those that appreciate for what it is today.