We've been talking a lot around the office about Mopar builds now that project Demon is well under way, so it is only fitting that we run a feature on Jim Kirsch's '63 Plymouth this month. While cruising the fairgrounds at last year's Summer Nationals, it took us about five seconds to decide that the car should be in the magazine. In reality, those five seconds were probably too much deliberation. We should have just flagged Jim down while he was in line to enter the fairgrounds and made the arrangements.
We have a warm spot in our hearts for these early Mopars, and this Savoy just does everything right: big cubic inches and even bigger wheels and tires out back just itching to be vaporized in a billowy display of abusive torque. To say Jim has a soft spot in his heart would be an understatement. He loves his old Chryslers and has six of them, notably a '69 Hemi Dart drag car that runs 9s. So this Savoy is his tame street car, which we think is funny because many people would be happy to have it as their race car as it sits.
Jim bought the car from a guy in Plymouth, Michigan, who listed an ad online. Jim was right on top of things and called the seller within just a few hours of the ad being placed. He wired a deposit and picked the car up a few days later. He was also able to grab some extra parts from the seller-original sheetmetal, interior pieces, some transmissions, and a lot of engine parts. We're guessing Jim's garage looks a lot like a Mopar parts warehouse.
The Savoy had been tubbed by someone a couple of owners prior, so that work was already done. Jim just needed to supply the drivetrain. His engine builder buddy, Rod Marinucci, and he had been scheming a cool Max Wedge build. Once Jim took possession of the car, the plans were put into action. At 498 inches, this is an impressive engine, but what Jim is especially proud of is being able to make the supposedly race-only Indy Super Stock intake manifold work on a street application. It is impressive to look at, but Jim is more thrilled with the way it drives. "It starts and idles easily. I have no problems driving it on the street."
Jim built a 727 transmission and swapped out the car's 8 3⁄4 axle for a stronger Dana 60, completing the drivetrain on this cool Plymouth. He calls the look Pro Street, joking that all his cars are tubbed. "If Pro Street is dead, no one bothered to tell me." We'd argue that this car is where the Pro Street movement should have stayed—cars that looked the part but were totally driveable rather than being over-the-top trailer queens. However you want to categorize Jim's Savoy, it would be filed under "cool."