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RTTTTed On November - 20 - 2010

A friend of mine, Archie Kieswetter, told me of a ’69 GTX that he’d found and being in the same financial situation as me, he decided that he couldn’t afford the measly $200 he’d agreed to pay for it.  He said that since he couldn’t afford it he’d like the #1 Mopar guy to get it. 

The Strangest GTX

                                                                                           by Ted Hlokoff    

My life was at a low point, I was broke and living in my Workshop.  I was offered “the deal of a lifetime” on a ’69 GTX. 

“It needs some work before it can be driven and it’s a little rough,” Archie said, “But it’s worth a lot more than $200.”

I thanked him and talked to my shopmate, Dave Hennessey, to see if he had the money to buy the car.  He did so we went over to check out the car.  The 80 year old that owned the car had parked it because he hit a telephone pole and holed the rad.  I had all the necessary parts to fix it, so we bought the car as a co-operative effort.   Dave paid for the car and I supplied the parts to fix it.  A few hours later we drove the GTX out of the parking lot.  It ran OK, but after sitting for two years it needed some TLC. 

I spent two weeks massaging dents, cut polishing the Black paint and tuning the car.  I threw away the front bumper and drove to the nearest telephone pole with a chain to pull the front fender straight.  Everything worked great and the car looked awesome.  We were impressed that the engine didn’t smoke or use oil considering that the odometer showed 180,000 miles.  The engine ran perfect and was pretty fast for a stock 440 magnum. 

When we first started the car the exhaust color was rust brown.  We drove the car like it was brand new and followed break-in procedure.  After a month the car was ten lengths faster and would easily run low 13 ET at the track.

Most nights we cruised for a couple hours.  We were beating a lot of big block Chevys and a lot more small block Chevs.  Life was good.

During a cruise to Whalley we came across a ’67 Chevelle that had 396 flags on the fenders.  From the exhaust we could hear a lot of camshaft and headers.  We followed him out of town looking for a safe spot to test him out.  At the bottom of Peterson Hill we stopped side by side at a red light.  Four lanes of blacktop and no other cars in sight, perfect.  I leaned on the throttle a little to see if I could get a reaction from the Chevelle.  He put it in neutral and gave it a rev.  We had a go.

As the light turned green we both left black patches of rubber trying to find the traction to get going.  We pulled almost a length ahead of the Chevelle while our tires were smoking.  Then he passed us and left us in the dust.  He beat us easily and was 8 car lengths in front before we shut down. 

After kicking ass for months we were taken by complete surprise.  Our GTX was easily a 13.0 car and no one had even come close to us.  This Chevelle was out of our class.  He pulled over to the side of the road in front of us.  I really wanted to look under the hood of the Chevy. 

It turned out that the owner was merely breaking-in his new 454 race motor and was impressed by the speed of our Plymouth. 

“What have you got done to that thing?” he asked.  “Man does it go.”

In shock I told him, “you just kicked our ass big-time.”

“Yah, but I’ve got a $20,000 race engine.  Yours is a street car,” he replied.

When I told him it was all stock he wouldn’t believe us.  We had to open the hood and use a flashlight to show him the grunge build-up around the valve cover bolts before he would believe us.

A couple weeks later Dave and I were cruising Vancouver looking for some action and we found a 56 Pontiac with a tunnel-rammed 396, 4.10 gears, tubbed and 50’s tucked under the quarter panels. 

“Want to lose to a stocker GTX?” I asked the owner.

“You can try beating me if you like,” was his answer.

We went to Industrial Ave.

as it was the only “safe” place to do our acceleration test.  I expected to beat him by about a car length. We did.

We talked with the owner a few minutes and again had to prove the GTX was all stock.  Being about 2am we headed for home.  Getting back into the GTX the gas pedal was flat on the floor.  The retaining ball had broken off of the cable.  I grabbed a pair of vise-grips out of the trunk.

“I hope you don’t mind relaxing on the floor and being the gas pedal ‘till we get home Dave,” I told my partner.

“No problem.” With a chuckle he said.  “I was getting kind of tired anyway.”  Dave said it was quite comfortable using the console as a headrest.

Stopping at a red light on Grandview Hwy.

a Black 69 Camaro Z28 pulled up beside us and revved his engine.  He waved his hand at the empty road in front of us.

“Dave, some kid in a Z28 wants a race.  What do you think?” I informed my partner on the floor.

“Let’s kick his ass,” was the reply from the floor.

As the light changed I told Dave and he yanked the cable.  A little tire screeching and the Z28 was way behind.

“OK, we beat him really bad and there’s a red light coming up,” I told Dave.  He released the throttle and we coasted to the next red light.

The kid in the Z28 pulled up beside us and rolled down the passenger window, “Holy sh_t does that thing go.  What’s done to it?” he asked me.

“Nothing, it’s all stock.  It just goes better than most because the engine’s really loose.” I replied.

“I don’t believe you,” he said.  “I beat GTX’s all the time.”

“Matter of fact, the car is so old that the throttle cable broke and my buddy’s laying on the floor pulling the cable.”  I kept a straight face as I said this to him.

Offended the kid said, “You’re just lying to make me feel bad.”

I looked at the floor and told Dave, “Dave would you lift up and wave at the man I the next car so he believes me, please.”

Dave lifted his head a little, looked over the window sill, waved and said, “Hi.”  He lay back on the floor.

I was watching the disbelief on the driver’s face as Dave waved at him and did my best to keep a straight face until we had pulled away from the then Green light, then I started laughing.  We’d gone a block before the Camaro driver overcame his shock and started moving.   We laughed all the way home.  Reaching the shop, it took ten minutes to change the throttle cable.

About six months after purchasing the car we were headed home along Galardi Way

.  Dave was driving and the traffic was light, there only being two other cars on the road.  Unfortunately, the Civic and the Camaro were driving side by side in front of us.  They were only going 30mph in a 40mph zone and Dave got irritated.  He pulled out to pass and as we got into the middle lane the GTX downshifted into second gear, and then started fishtailing in the dust on the road.  I remember thinking, ‘I hope he can drive better than me because I’d be out of control about now’.  He couldn’t I realized as we passed the Civic and the Camaro going backwards.  After another couple of spins we went off the elevated highway backwards and hit the ditch hard with the rear bumper.  Getting out of the car it was obvious that the trunk was level with the roof.  We’d bent the car badly and I couldn’t fix it.  A pick-up came by with a rope, towed us back onto the road and we drove the car home.

We drove the car for another two weeks.  After a cop warned us to pull the plates or he would, we parked it.  I took all the parts off the car and scraped it.  What I found when I pulled the engine apart was to be expected, all the maximum clearances had been surpassed.  Max. ring end gap was listed at .055”  – ours was .080”.  It was strange that the car didn’t smoke or use any oil, never mind that it was super fast.  I suppose the quote, “loose is fast” holds true.  This old GTX was definitely the fastest stocker I ever drove … and I owned hundreds.

 

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