I have been so busy training for Ironman Chattanooga and the Chicago Marathon this summer and fall that my search for an old car to buy has kind of taken a back seat to all of that. The summer and fall have been so busy that when I finally was able to not be burdened with all that training, I realized that summer has passed me by! And now that the summer cruise season is over I’m not sure I want to seek out a car to buy right now. But in my own defense, I have spent nearly every night looking at ads for old classics and searching for what might be that special one for me. It seems like I will be forever looking.
I haven’t ruled out any of the muscle car era classic cars at all, but I have really narrowed it down mostly to the 1967 Plymouth GTX and the Dodge Coronet R/T for some reason. Those two sister cars just catch my eye. We had a couple Plymouths when I was a kid, so maybe that’s why. I’m also limiting myself somewhat by also hoping to buy a convertible because that would be cool. However, there are only so many of that year/make/model out there in the 50+ years that have passed since they were created. And as I look at more and more of them I have really learned a lot about them. And some of them make me question their authenticity. Here is a story of a recent one.
BUYER BE QUICK!
I was scanning the Hemmings.com page like I do almost every night when I noticed a new listing for a 1967 GTX convertible for sale in Florida. It was somewhat of an odd listing because it only had one photo and not much detail regarding the car. I saw that it was listed as being from Lakeland, Florida, which rang a bell for me because there is a classic car shop there called Primo Classics. Sure enough, this car was one of their listings. Now I have looked at their listings before and am usually very impressed with the cars they have to offer and they present them extremely well. Maybe it’s the Instagram-type photo filters or something, but they really pop off the page when you are looking at them. But this listing was different. It didn’t go into detail and there was only one photo of the car from quite a distance away. That wasn’t in their typical style.
The car was listed on Hemmings for about a week and then it was gone. I went to the Primo Classics website and now there were a ton of really nice photos of the car, but the word “SOLD” was present at the top of the page. Still no detail about the car at all.
I would have loved to own this one. From these photos and the rest of the photos posted online, I definitely would have inquired into it. Just not quick enough I guess.
Being slightly puzzled by the quick post and sale of the car, I wondered what was going on with it. So I dug a little deeper and took a closer look at the photos and saw the fender tag.
Fender tags were used by Mopar to detail how the car was built and were usually just screwed into the inner fender well of the engine compartment. The numbers under the letters and the numbers along the bottom have special meanings and there are plenty of websites out there to help you decode them. So I went to one of the decoder websites, put in the above info and here’s what I found:
First line: g 0 is unknown; u 1 means the car was ordered.
Second line: R 1 is an AM radio; Y 1 means it has a black convertible top. So far, so good.
Third line: A 2 is a 2.94 to 1 axle ratio; H4X is a trim color code, in this case, vinyl black seats; LL1 corresponds to the exterior paint color, Dark Turquoise; UB I think means the upper door frame color, black in this case.
Uh oh, now we are starting to have some issues. The axle ratio was pretty standard for the GTX, but the trim color of this car is red, not black. Also, the car is clearly painted dark red and not turquoise blue, and also dark red instead of black on the upper inner door frame.
Fourth line: RH27 is the code for a Plymouth Belvedere II convertible; 31 is a 278 c.i. 8 cyl. engine; 5 is a 3-speed automatic transmission; 315 is the tire size, 31 means 7.35 x 14” black wall tires and the 5 means the spare had the same; 306 means it was built on March 06, 1967; 02025 is the production sequence number.
Okay, now there are a TON of red flags, most glaring is the RH27. The 1967 Plymouth Belvedere and Satellite were basically the same car with some differences in trim and options. The GTX was the top-end model of the Belvedere after the Belvedere I and II. A real GTX fender code would read RS23 for a hardtop coupe and RS27 for a convertible. If you look at the picture it shows that the fender tag is applied with a couple of Phillips-type screws, so these things could be taken off and swapped around very easily. This tag could have been original to this car with some GTX upgrades added later on, upgrades such as different paint and GTX trim to make it appear to be a GTX. One of the hallmarks of a GTX is that it had a special chrome flip open type gas cap, special to only this model in 1967. These can be added pretty easily, and to the untrained observer, it would probably be unnoticeable. Also, GTX’s only came with a 440 cu. in. or a 426 cu. in. HEMI engine. This tag doesn’t indicate either of those.
So is this car a Belvedere II cloned into a GTX or a real GTX? Let’s also look at the VIN.
Right away there is a huge red flag. As noted above, RS23 is the code for a Belvedere GTX coupe, not a convertible. So now we know that neither the fender tag or the VIN is accurate to the car being presented as a 1967 GTX convertible. My guess this car was originally a Belvedere II in Dark Turquoise like the fender tag indicates, with the VIN tag added from some totaled old GTX found in a junkyard somewhere. The rivets holding the tag on in the picture are fairly consistent with what Mopar used, but the tag almost looks glued on. Heck, the glue that was used to mount this VIN tag has pushed out along the edges and through the rivets, and the guy’s fingerprint appears on it where his glue-covered finger pushed it into place! Plus, if you Google Plymouth VIN rivets, you can see that they can be bought pretty easily. VINs and fender tags can be recreated too if you look hard enough.
I searched this car some more and found a listing for it in Carlisle, PA, a popular locale for auctioning classic cars. I searched their listings for auctions and found a Fall 2019 auction held in Florida, and there it was:
It’s a nice car, a well done cloned GTX, but it is being sold as a real-deal GTX and that upsets me. This is why you take your time and look into what you are buying. I’m not sure how this car even has a clear title. Sometimes I feel rushed into jumping on a new listing, but learning to slow down and do your research can save you a huge headache in the long run. Buyer beware for sure.
6 thoughts on “My Search For American Muscle – Part VII”
Hey Chris, it’s April 2020 now. I don’t see any updates on your search for a 1967 B Body muscle car since October 2019. Did you have any success or are you still looking? I felt your pain and enjoyed your insights with your search–vintage car buyers really should see your experience and learn from it. A friend found out his 442 W30 (convertible) turned out to be a clone. Thank goodness he did not pay a premium for it and he said he still enjoyed it. I’m not sure how much though because he put it up for sale a couple months later (selling it as a clone of course) and he said he lost his interest in classic cars.
As your search to purchase experience shows, it’s best to find out what you’re buying so you’re not let down later. Please provide an update–are you still looking or did you finally purchase your classic car?
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Hey, thanks for reading and remembering my search for a car! Nothing has changed on my end, I search Hemmings and eBay nearly every day but it seems that it is pretty slim pickings right now. One thing I have learned is that I don’t want a project car and I have limited my options for what I want (jonesing for a convertible) and they’re kinda rare. Also I don’t want to travel far to look at a car for sale. Lazy I guess. I’ve got my eye on three cars right now. I will put out another blogpost soon. Thanks for asking!
I think my story is the flip side of yours–I’m in search of someone to buy and love my classic muscle car because I can’t keep it for a variety of reasons, primary is I don’t drive it enough to be fair/good to it and secondary, it takes up too much room in my garage and I can’t pay for offsite storage. I had other ideas and a different life when I purchased the car, but all that changed after the car came out of restoration. I bought it with all the correct ideas and then it sat for a year with a restorer who didn’t want to work on it. I moved and then moved it to a different restorer. He gave me the chance to walk away and part out the car, but I knew I had to restore it in memory of my dad, who gave me the love of cars. Once it got underway, I couldn’t do a half assed job. During the restoration, I was very hands on, researching and ordering most of the parts and keeping costs down as much as possible. What starts out as paint, new upholstery, and a couple other obvious things very quickly becomes many, many other things that are “nice to have” and “why not?” The cosmetic restoration turned out beautiful. It needed various mechanical work that was finally done so it runs reliably and quite well–surprises the crap out of those BMWs and Audis that don’t realize a 53 year old behemoth can blow their doors off. Except for that, I just don’t enjoy it. Part of it is worrying about something happening to it after all the work put into it–I don’t want to obsess about rain or dirt. When you put so much into something, it’s hard to ignore that stuff.
Someone else needs to love it and enjoy it without thinking about what the paint cost or how long it was in restoration. So far the only guys who were close to buying it had wives who said no, including one whose wife actually bought him another car! He came back to me to tell me he would rather have mine if you can imagine. (I believe the issue there was she wanted a white car rather than red.) It has a lot of admirers. My restorer kept telling me the car was worth far more than the “experts” or the market valuation and I believed him for a long time. I knew I wasn’t going to keep my car because I wasn’t driving it and that was not good for the car. Family issues delayed my timing for putting it up for sale for a year and a half so I lost precious time getting it to market. Although I think I needed some of that time to accept the reality of the valuation or auction prices and it doesn’t matter how much I lose on the restoration. Unfortunately, by the time I finally posted the car for sale, we were just a couple weeks away from the pandemic and people are more worried about the economy than buying classic cars.
When I read your blog, I realized you would probably love Big Red. I’m sure if you still check Hemmings with regularity, you’ve seen it–it’s the bright red 1967 Plymouth Satellite convertible in Ormond Beach. It’s not a GTX though–the restorer tried to talk me into making it a clone, but I told him absolutely not. He loved this car and it shows. My concession was to use the GTX gas cap, which was easier to get and looks/works better than the standard Satellite gas cap. Even though it’s still for sale, I’m not planning to renew the ad tomorrow because I don’t think continuing to run it is going to bring in any offers at this time. I think it’s due to the pandemic and it’s not clear in the ad that the price is very negotiable–I’m quite motivated to sell it. When things get better, I’ll put it back up and adjust the price/wording or I’ll find a broker to handle it. I accept I can never get back what I put into it and gave up any illusion of that before ever posting it. I just want someone to drive it and take care of it. Too bad we’re in the times we’re in. Stay well.
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Yes, I’ve seen that car! It’s a beauty! I get what you are going through. One of the reasons that I haven’t bought a car yet is that I don’t want the search to end because I’m enjoying that so much. Good luck with your car, whatever you choose to do.
Thanks! I’m selling this car no matter what. If not, I guess my family will have to find a cemetery that will dig a hole big enough to bury me in it, but I hope not. I really want to get my garage back this year.
I do understand your love of the search–it’s definitely a learning experience and making a purchase would bring that to an end. As Spock said, “After a time, you may find that having is not so pleasing a thing after all as wanting.” Not that you wouldn’t love whatever you buy, but it’s the same with anything–the pursuit is often more fulfilling and rewarding than the end result no matter how pleasant. Enjoy your learning experience and do keep sharing it.
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