Being a car guy was a bit different in the '70's, and the cars—well, they were a bit different, too. In this decade, drag racers know how to fit huge tires under the rears of their cars and know that lowering the front end is good for aerodynamics. In drag racing's infancy, it was all nose-high Gassers and fender flares. Lots of details on this '62 Plymouth Savoy point directly at '70s styling, and that's perfectly fine for G.R. Lewis, the man who owns this outrageous Mopar.
G.R. is the son of a Mopar man and couldn't help but follow suit. The Plymouth actually belonged to his father, Rick, who built it for drag racing in 1976. Rick traded a 440- powered '69 Barracuda SS/AA drag car for the Savoy and quickly went to work to revamp the rearend and suspension. He sent the car to J.R. Griffey, who applied the paint you see here, still looking good after 35 years. Back then, the car had a 426ci Max Wedge with a cross-ram and dual quads and sported a pair of Goodyear 14x32s out back with Motor Wheel Fly racing wheels all around. These days, it still has the same look, but a stroked 400 boasting 454 ci provides the power.
Between then and now, the car changed ownership, as Rick sold it to Wilber Wilson in 1982, but when the two struck the deal, Wilber promised he'd offer first dibs on the car to Rick if he ever decided to sell it. Fast forward nearly two decades, and Rick had the opportunity to buy the car back, much to the excitement of his son, G.R., who'd already caught the Mopar bug. During his ownership of the car, Wilber reworked the rear suspension and put a new powerplant together, but he retained the car's vintage styling. When G.R. got his hands on it, he updated a few items, including adding a Kirkey seat, a new B&M shifter, and a few other bits and pieces, but he respected the nostalgic flavor of the old Plymouth.
The car is obviously set up for racing, but G.R. runs cheater slicks so he can drive it on the street legally. No matter the environment, G.R.'s Mopar gets tons of attention and sometimes a few strange looks from folks who just don't get it. Although G.R. wasn't around in the '70s, he doesn't mind keeping his Plymouth looking just as it did when his father built it 35 years ago. From the looks of this wild Mopar, it seems as though being stuck in the '70s wouldn't be such a bad thing.
Who: G.R. Lewis
What: '62 Plymouth Savoy
Where: Knoxville, Tennessee
Engine: From day one, this Plymouth has lived a life of drag-racing abuse. Early on, it had a 413ci mill, which was swapped to a 426ci Max Wedge when Rick rebuilt the car in 1976. It now has a 400-based engine with ported Stage IV cylinder heads that displaces 454 ci. Wilber Wilson built the engine using a forged crankshaft with a stroke of 3.75 inches. The 12.6:1 compression ratio requires 110-octane fuel, but the cam is big enough to cruise the car on the street. On the track, the 454 makes 542 hp and is shifted at 7,000 rpm.
Transmission: Power from the big-block is transferred to a Hensley Racing–built 727 with a manual valvebody and a 3,500-rpm stall.
Chassis: Originally equipped with leaf springs, this Mopar now features a ladder-bar rear suspension with adjustable coilovers. Rick modified the rear suspension back in 1976, and Wilber revamped it in the '80s with the current setup. The narrowed Dana 60 rearend is packed with 5.13 gears and a spool, with Strange axles sending power to the wheels. Up front, smaller torsion bars and loose shocks offer better weight transfer, while the custom subframe connectors and six-point 'cage give the car more rigidity.
Exterior: Rick says the body on this car was flawless when he bought it, but he wanted a different color scheme, so he had J.R. Griffey paint the car in 1977. Rick also added the fiberglass hood and hoodscoop but retained all other body panels. Even with all the original steel panels, the car only weighs in at 3,280 pounds.
Wheels/Tires: Mismatched wheels were extremely common in the '60s but had started to phase out by the '70s. We think G.R.'s Mopar wears them well. Skinny Torq-Thrusts roll up front with Mickey Thompson Sportsman tires, while massive 31x16.50-15 Mickey Thompson E.T. Street tires tuck under the rear of the Savoy. Original 15x8-inch Mopar wheels have been widened by 21?2 inches and painted satin black for the right look.
Performance: The Plymouth flies at the track yet is streetable. In fact, G.R. drove it to the photo shoot location, with open headers! Through the years, the car has spent lots of time at the track, running a best of 10.82 in the quarter-mile, with eighth-mile e.t.'s way down into the 6s. End