The cars we loved.
Casual MOPAR fans know all about the Charger, Challenger and Cuda, but many often overlook the cars that Chrysler sold as base model sleepers with performance parts hidden underneath sedate sedan or coupe bodies. The Plymouth GTX was one such car. Starting with a plane Jane Plymouth Belvidere (or Satellite), enough performance parts were available to make any Belvidere a stop light drag star. Available years before the muscle car craze of the late 60’s, performance parts for the Belvidere had established it as a kind of sleeper, if you checked the right options.
When the muscle car trend of the 1960’s began to accelerate, Chrysler was late to considering the Belvidere as an all-out performance car. When it did finally in 1967, the Plymouth GTX and its twin the Road Runner was born. The Road Runner was a more stripped down twin of the GTX and was based on the Satellite. Although a little late to the game, the GTX offered something the bigger Chargers and Challengers, didn’t: more luxury in a smaller lighter body shell. At 3,400lbs. a GTX was lighter and smaller than most muscle cars. With a skilled driver, 0 to 60 could be reached in 6 seconds with the HEMI. It was the first Plymouth designed to go and look fast, shaking up the once sleepy bare bones entry level brand. Two potent V8 engines were available, a Magnum 440 (375hp) and a 426 Street HEMI (425hp). By today’s standard’s the drum brakes and standard three speed TorqueFlite automatic transmission may have seemed rather crude for a car with so much power, but they were durable and got the job done. While most other cars were designed to go fast in a straight line, the GTX was designed to handle well on twisty roads due to a heavy duty performance tuned suspension. All GTX cars came with 14 inch wheels and special GTX tires.
Depending on the options (and there were a lot), a four speed manual transmission was available with a console shifter, as opposed to the column based auto shift. One major option separating the GTX from the Road Runner was the convertible option. Later the Road Runner would have a topless option by 1969, hurting GTX sales.
In playing along to Chrysler’s intention to sell the GTX as a ‘gentleman’s muscle car’, the elegant roof line was completely out of step with Chryslers more brute offerings. The Road Runner, while similar and slightly better performing, aimed for the stripper market. The GTX aimed upmarket. Its business like interior, although sporty, suggested elegance with its vinyl bucket seats and large chrome ringed steering wheel. Interiors came in one of four colors that included red, copper, black and white.
1967 was the first and only year the elegant squared look. Future models grew larger and heavier while resembling the curves of Chargers with the ‘coke bottle look’. In the four short model years between 1967 and 1971, there were no less than three major redesigns, an astounding fact considering todays cars keep the same look for four or more years. The GTX gave way to the Road Runner and was by 1974 merely an option package of mostly luxury and appearance items.