Though it was irresponsible, we can't blame Mark Wells for what he did and why he put his car into hiding. In fact, we probably would have done the same thing in his situation. Imagine some punk rolling up in a clearly inferior ride and challenging you and your car to "man up." You do your best to ignore all his extraneous revving and trash talking, but each of us has a tipping point. Mark reached his with a fool in an IROC-Z, destroying him handily at the stoplight drags. In the process, he passed the local fuzz at nearly 100 mph. Oops. Luckily for him, John Law didn't take chase, but Mark told us he went straight home and locked his GTX in the garage. "I figured I needed to keep it off the streets for a while." This all went down in 1988, and Mark's GTX wouldn't see the light of day for the next 14 years.
So what do you do with a car you can't drive for fear it's on your local jurisdiction's 10 Most Wanted list? You restore it, of course. As least that's what Mark did. That year, he began what he calls a "nut and bolt" restoration-as in every nut and bolt on the car-and it took almost a decade and a half to finish. "It didn't start looking like a car again until about 1996," Mark says. He did all the work at home in his two-car garage, and as you can imagine, he ran out of space quickly. He acknowledges the patience of his wife, who somehow didn't complain about car parts spilling over into the house. "There were parts everywhere. I even kept stuff under the bed," Mark tells us
This wasn't the first time the GTX sat derelict. "It was buried in snow up to the windows the first time I saw it." His brother-in-law, Ron, was the previous owner, and he had parked the car after its transmission blew up and his wife gave birth to twins. Coincidentally, Mark was looking for something to work on, and the GTX was soon in his driveway for the paltry sum of $1,750. "All I did was wax it and put in a new transmission. Some guy offered me $3,500 for it one of the first times I drove it," Mark says.
Since the restoration, Mark's GTX draws even more attention and bigger offers, but he has no plans to sell it. It would be hard to part with something that has taken up such a big investment of time and money. Besides, he's having too much fun driving it. He rolls with a group of guys, including his brother, Chris, and brother-in-law, to all the local cruises and the regular schedule of car shows each summer. He puts at least 2,000 miles on the car during the summer months, and when asked about what kind of gas mileage the big Plymouth gets, he writes back, "I don't care." Good answer.