A Unique Mopar Muscle Car of the Late 1960s
The GTX was born of an idea to bring an upscale muscle car for the more well-healed buyers in 1967.
It lasted only a short time - from 1967 to 1971. But maybe that was good. It was built for speed having only two engine options - a standard 440 cu inch that was able to do 0 to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds, and the famous 426 hemi that smashed its way to 60 mph at 4.8 seconds.
1967 Plymouth GTX
1967 GTX. Source Wikipedia
In 1967, and all subsequent years, it was based on the basic, but dependable mid-sized Belvedere platform, which was your typical family car for budget-minded folks. Taking this reliable car, the Pymouth engineers added a blacked-out grill, a crome facia for the back, a fiberglass non-functioning hood scoops, and a tach mounted on the center console. And for fun, dual white racing stripes were available on the lower sides ending at a chrome mounted GTX badge.
1968 Plymouth GTX
1967 Plymouth GTX convertable. Source: Wikipedia
In 1968, the GTX was moved upscale with the addition of the budget Plymouth Road Runner. Both shared the same redesigned Belvedere platform. Styling changes included a new hood design with different non-functional hood vents, a new grille, and revised taillights. In keeping with its upscale image, the GTX was available as either a two door hardtop or convertible, whereas the Road Runner was only available as a pillared coupe.
"Gen 2" 426 hemi, optional for the Plymouth GTX starting 1968. Source: Wikipedia
The Road Runner came with a strengthen 383 cid V8 as standard, while the GTX came with the 440 V8 standard. Both had the mighty 426 Hemi as the only engine option.
Both cars had similar suspension upgrades, and wide-oval tires; front disc brakes and a limited slip differential were options on both. Non-functional hood vents were common to both.
The GTX came with the TorqueFlite automatic transmission as standard (it cost $206 extra on the Road Runner), with a four speed manual transmission as a no cost option. Instead of the plain exterior of the Road Runner, the GTX looked upscale with standard chrome wheel-lip moldings, tailpanel brightwork, and double side stripes.
1969 Plymouth GTX convertible. Source: Wikipedia (By Sicnag)
Inside, whereas the Road Runner had a fleet-grade interior, the GTX came with the well-appointed Sport Satellite cabin featuring shiny details and fake woodgrain.
These differences were reflected in the base prices, $3,034 for the Road Runner pillared coupe and $3,355 for the GTX hardtop. Serious racers loved the Hemi, but only 450 GTXs (414 hardtops and 36 convertibles) were ordered with the $564 option.
The 440 was easier to tune, and churned out a surplus of low-end torque, which was more usable on the street, than the rev-happy Hemi. Deficiencies mirrored those of the Road Runner and most muscle car intermediates -- a stiff ride, over assisted power steering, and unsure handling on rough roads. But overall, the GTX was a true gentleman's super car.
1969 Plymouth GTX
1969 Plymouth GTX. Source: Wikipedia
The 1969 model came with the changes to all Belvedere based models. These included new front end form, a more rounded side body, changed tail lamp and additional chromage around the wheels, as well as changes to the interior.
The standard GTX package was applied to this new model, with of course the same engine options as the 1968 models. But sales were cannibalized by the introduction of the popular Road Runner in a convertible model. The Road Runner was a potent - and cheap - muscle car with stripped down interior and a 383 Magnum V8 punching 335 hp. And it was a fun car, compared to the more "gentlemanly" GTX.
1970 Plymouth GTX
1970 Plymouth GTX. Source: Wikipedia
Following the design changes to the Satellite Super Sport, the 1970 Plymouth GTX was, in my opinion, the beauty of the GTX versions. It had this smooth body from its growly, fighter-pilot glasses front-end with the bold GTX highlighted on its matt-black grill, to its equally challenging double striped lighting on its tail. With the addition of the double-black stripes ending in a faux-air intact announcing to the world its a GTX, the side was a luxurious and soft hour-glass shape hinting at the power under the hood.
But sales were declining fast. Only eleven were sold with the 426 hemi power packs. It was beginning to be a money-loser for Chrysler. And it was already overtaken by some other power mopars, such as the Challenger, Cuda and of course, the Road Runner.
And emissions standards were on the horizon.
The denouement: 1971 Plymouth GTX
This was, like all others, based on the Satellite. But, to me, it just looked weird. This odd bumper masking the headlamps was a good idea on the engineering drawing board, but just made the car look heavy.
I suppose with the right paint job, it might look menacing and powerful, but I just could not get over that weird look.
So, that was it. Road Runners continued and the GTX badge became an amendment to the Road Runner name. Somehow, Plymouth dropped the ball with this car. Either they should have made one car - the Road Runner or stick with the GTX and come up with another design for the Road Runner. After all, they had the 'Cuda which predated the GTX. Somehow, Chrysler was in a mad competition for dwindling buyers trying to segment the market like all the different flavoured toothpastes in a grocery store. Eventually, one of the flavours has to go.
This was the fate of the Plymouth GTX.
On a personal note: I had two. A Canadian 1968 GTX that had a speedo ending at 160 mph and an American 1969 GTX with a speedo ending at 120 mph. I never did find out why the difference.
Freezing temperatures eventually killed the 1968 model in Calgary Alberta when the block cracked. I was too young and too short of cash to save it. But it was a fun car and lots of great memories.
Production: 2D Coupe: 17,914. 2D Convertible: 1,026.
Engines: 426 Hemi V8 425bhp@5000rpm, 490lb-ft@4000rpm.
440 V8 375bhp@4600rpm, 480lb-ft@3200rpm.
Performance: 426/425bhp: 1/4 mile in low 13s. 440/375bhp: 0-60 in 6.6 sec, 1/4 mile in 15.2 sec @ 97mph