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.