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."
Who: Jim Kirsch
What: '63 Plymouth Savoy
Where: Esko, MN. Probably feels like Eskimo, Minnesota right about now.
Engine: Jim has a couple of Hemi-powered Mopars, so he wanted to build a Max Wedge for the Plymouth. He and engine builder Rod Marinucci spec'd out a great combination of parts, not the least of which are a forged Callies stroker crankshaft, forged Crower rods, 11.0:1 Diamond pistons, and Speed Pro rings. Plum Crazy Racing in Ladysmith, Minnesota, did the machining, and everything is blueprinted and balanced. The stroker crank afforded a nice bump in displacement, and his RB engine now measures 498 ci. The cam is a solid roller from Bullet. It measures 251/255 duration and 0.605-inch lift. The lifters are from Crower, and the pushrods are from Smith Bros. The Brodix B1 cylinder heads house Manley 2.20/1.80-inch valves, Harland Sharp rocker arms, and Bullet valvesprings. They were ported and gasket-matched prior to being bolted on.
Induction: The cool, Indy Super Stock intake is generally considered a race-only piece because its large plenum area was designed for high-rpm flow rather than street driving. Jim says the cam timing he chose helps keep the intake velocity up, and he reports no problems cruising this car to his local car shows. A pair of Edelbrock 750 carbs feed this hungry RB.
Exhaust: The TTI headers are off-the-shelf parts. Jim says they had to do a little clearancing to get them to fit due to the raised exhaust ports of the Brodix heads, but no major surgery was needed. They dump into a 3 1⁄2-inch exhaust system with a pair of Flowmaster mufflers.
Ignition: A billet MSD distributor, MSD Pro Coil, and MSD 8.5mm wires fire off the NGK plugs.
Transmission: Jim built the 727 TorqueFlite trans for his car, augmenting it with a reverse-manual Turbo Action valvebody, a TCI deep transmission pan, and a 10-inch Dynamic torque converter.
Rearend: Seeking more strength, Jim swapped in a Dana 60 rear axle with Richmond 4.88:1 gears and Moser axles.
Suspension: Stock torsion bars and upgraded polyurethane bushings are up front. The rear axle has leaf springs, they're just mounted way inboard to make room for the massive wheeltubs.
Brakes: Wilwood discs are up front; the stock drums are on the back.
Wheels/Tires: We like the Billet Specialties Street Lite wheels Jim's Savoy is wearing. They measure 15x4, and 15x15, respectively. On them are Moroso Drag Special front runners and awesome 15x22.5 Hoosier Quick Time DOT bias-ply tires. According to Summit Racing's website, these tires "feature a reduced tread pattern that somehow got DOT approval and a special soft compound that provides gobs of traction." Maybe that guy could write for us.
Paint/Body: Jim was proud to point out that his Savoy's sheetmetal is all original: "The car spent several years in California before being brought back to Michigan," he says. He did have it painted after it was all put together. Clayton Hargrave of Rice Lake, Wisconsin, sprayed the flawless black PPG basecoat/clearcoat.
Interior: The interior is as original as possible. Redline Gauge Works did the dash, and Jim had the Super Stock bucket seats covered with new material.
Thanks: Jim wanted to thank engine builder Rod Marinucci, "engine builder and all-around great guy."