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Mopar History: 1955 Plymouth Belvedere - first Plymouth offered with an available V8

641 Views 1 Reply 2 Participants Last post by  magnuman
1955 was a banner year for the 'All New for 1955 Plymouth', and Belvedere was the top model.

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Back in those years (I am giving up my age) my Dad and most of our friends were Chrysler nuts....56 Plymouth (we called them Pilgrims) Fury, 60 Darts, etc. In the early 60's I conned my Dad into buying a black 57 Dodge Custom Royal D500. It was one of the first "larger" Hemi's (325 cu. in. IRRC) that Chrysler put into a few of their cars. My second choice was a 58 370 cu. in. Pontiac Bonneville with the rare fuel injected V-8. I used to street race the D500 but never did that well because all it would do is light the tires up for the whole race. Never could get it to hook up. When he'd let me have the car, I'd crawl under it and lower the front torsion bar settings and I also had to carry an extra distributor rotor because it had bad motor mounts and sometimes when I got on it, the engine would shift enough so the distributor cap would hit the firewall and break the rotor contact. He never caught onto the rotor, but he did find out about the lowering when I didn't get it back up high enough.

Those were fun times. Also, back then I got hooked on Oldsmobiles when I was working at B & M Automotive (now B & M Performance Products) for Bob Spar (one of the founders of SEMA) and Mort Schuman (the founders of B & M) building race cars and race transmissions (B & M Hydro-Sticks). Most of the stuff we built was either Oldsmobile or Pontiac and a few Chevy's. I had a 53 Olds with a heavily modded 371 cu. in. engine that was bored and stroked to 455 cu. in. using "cast off parts" from Stone Wood and Doug "Cookie" Cook's and Pitman and Edward's 41 Willys A Gas Supercharged racers. (Look them up....a lot of great drag racing history there) My Olds ran in the low/mid 12's at 110 mph (6000 RPM at the lights) and I could actually get the right front wheel off the ground at launch. That was because I ran 10 in. wide American Racing Mag wheels with M & H Slicks and the rear suspension was the same stuff we put on SWC and P and E's Willys cars. It had 1/4 elliptic springs and long track bars underneath that went from the differential to about the middle of the front doors. Theory was that when the differential torqued clockwise (up), the track bars would lift the front end....transfer weight. Best race ever was at Long Beach against a 66 Dodge 426 Ramcharger. I only beat him because I got a hole shot on him. In the first light he was at my back fender, at the center light (the 1/4 mile one) he was at my door and at the 3rd light, I was at his back fender.

A few of the other rides we built were Big John Mazmanian's (all his stuff was candy apple red) 41 Willys, and Corvette (61 or 62, IIRC). We also built the "first" Hemi Under Glass, flipped over backwards on it's first run at Long Beach....with the engine it the back seat it was too light in the front end. Frank Sinatra's and Sammy Davis Jr's. Dual Ghias (Chrysler Hemi's with Hydro-Sticks) who had a competition on who's could win when they raced. The coolest ride was built for a guy in Arizona that liked to cruise and race on the highways over there. It was a big, ugly black 48 Packard and we put a Latham (super efficient axial flow) Supercharged big Olds engine, Hydro-Stick and 3:08 Olds differential in it. What a cool highway racer it turned out to be.

I still really love the old stuff. Wish I had the room, money and time to still mess with them. Bet I could still build a Hydro-Stick too.....if I could find an early 50's GM hydramatic anymore. A little side note on BM hydro's....even Rolls Royce had purchased the rights to use the dual range hydro's in some of their cars.
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