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1964 Plymouth Hemi Belvedere Super Commando - The Second Coming Of The Super Commando

Rico Petrini's '64 Hemi Plymouth

Photography by , Rico Petrini

Tech Notes
What: It's a very rare steel front-end '64 Plymouth Hemi Belvedere Super Commando.
Owner: Rico Petrini
Hometown: San Mateo, California, near San Francisco, where in 1964 the face of flower-power and rock 'n' roll was just beginning to emerge.

Short-block: While the Super Commando 426 Hemi that sits in the engine compartment is not original, that didn't stop Rico from making it look as authentic as possible. Tim Banning, owner of For Hemis Only (FHO) in Ontario, Canada, performed all the machine work and assembly, which started with a correct '64 Hemi NASCAR K block. To add a little punch to this not-so-strict rebuild, Tim added an Eagle forged 4.150-inch-stroke crank along with custom CP forged pistons at a milder 10.0:1 compression hooked to a set of Eagle 6.86-inch, full-floating H-beam rods. Of course, this invited the use of a Comp Cams mechanical lifter camshaft with 241 degrees of duration at 0.050-inch tappet lift and 0.563/0.545-inch valve lift.

Heads: As with the block, these castings have been around the block a few times, requiring furnace welding to repair some previous welding repairs. After the heat work, Tim installed new bronze guides and performed a complete porting operation adding 2.25/1.90-inch Manley stainless steel valves and Comp double-wound springs. The heads were also equipped with Stage V stainless steel 1.6:1 intake roller rockers and forged exhaust pieces actuated by Smith Brothers custom pushrods.

Induction: Hemis only look right with twin four-barrels in the intake side; this particular piece is an FHO-repaired aluminum cross-ram outfitted with the original 735-cfm Carter AFB 1111/416-inch throttle bore carburetors restored by Dick Katter.

Exhaust: While it's rare that special attention be paid to the exhaust system, in the case of these special Super Commando Hemi cars, Chrysler engineers realized the value of a low-restriction exhaust system, building what most enthusiasts would call a custom factory header package consisting of four individual primary tubes exiting into a 3-inch collector intended to run uncorked on the dragstrip. The remainder of the exhaust system plugs into the collector at a restrictive 90 degrees using a large-for-the-day 211/42-inch exhaust system reproduced by Accurate Exhaust.

Transmission: The Hemi cars came with either a Chrysler A833 2.66 First gear four-speed or, as in this case, with a TorqueFlite with "5,600 rpm upshift speed and high capacity components," per the factory service bulletin. According to Rico, the factory also modified the pushbutton shifter on the dash, placing the Drive button at the bottom and deleting the Park lever altogether. The Hemi converter in Rico's Plymouth stalls at 2,800.

Rearend: Back in '64, the 831/44-inch rear axle assembly was still the hot selection since the Dana 60 wouldn't appear for another two years. The smaller 831/44-inch includes a Sure Grip limited slip that would have originally connected to either 3.90 or 4.56 gears but for the street now spins a bit more conservative 3.55s. The entire rearend is stock, right down to the tapered axles that Rico says are "a pain in the ass."

Suspension/Brakes: Here, Rico chose to retain as many of the stock components as possible, including the OE torsion bars, Super Stock leaf springs, factory steering box, front and rear 11-inch drum brakes, and original single-reservoir master cylinder.

Wheels/Tires: Standard tires and wheels in '64 for the B-Body Plymouths were 7.00x14-inch Rayon tires. As an option you could get an 8.00x14-inch tire and steel wheel package. Rico chose to widen a set of stock wheels to15x8 to give the Belvedere a more aggressive stance. The rear tires are a pair of BFGoodrich P275/50R15 drag radials, a far cry from those rock-hard stockers.

Interior: If you've ever wondered what the interior of your grandmother's car looked like, this would be it. Gordon Anderson replaced most of the wiring while South City Upholstery replaced most everything else with fresh M1B light blue stock supplied by SMS.

Paint/Body: A single-page receipt from Hot Rods by Boyd that came with the car includes, among other changes, "change color to black exterior & black interior." That bill was for $46,500, and Rico had to have all of it removed when he discovered that the exterior was originally the much more interesting EE-1 blue metallic hue painted and restored by Wu's Auto of South San Francisco. Gordon Anderson was the driving force behind both the deconstruction and reassembly of the car.

Crew: Gordon Anderson, Tim Banning, Norm Brady, Mike Commons, Herb Faatz, Harm's Auto, Jim Kramer, and Greg Lane.

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