What Are You Working On? Goodwin’s 1956 Plymouth Convertible.

S&JGoodwinFor the last 18 years, Stan and Judy Goodwin of Casper, Wyoming, have been piling up the miles (70,000 so far) on their 1955 Plymouth Savoy four-door (shown above) going to rod runs all across the United States. The latest trip was to Fairmount, Indiana, for the James Dean Festival in September 2016.

That trip put over 3,500 miles under the tires. Stan inherited the little yellow ’55 Plymouth his father bought new off the showroom floor after two of his Uncles each had it for a few years, and the last Uncle ended up storing it in in a sawmill shed in the mountains near Casper for 20 years.

He happily brought the Savoy home and over the course of two years added a Hemi grind cam in the 400-inch Chrysler engine, a 727 Torqueflite transmission, a new interior, lowered and louvered it and flamed the front. While the Plymouth made a great rod runner, Stan really wanted a 1956 Plymouth Belvedere convertible…those “Forward Look” cars are rare these days.

“Yep, it’s a 1956 Plymouth all right, but is it a Belvedere convertible?

“Yep, it’s a 1956 Plymouth all right, but is it a Belvedere convertible?

In 2006 Stan got wind of a “barn find” Plymouth in southwestern Wyoming. Not really knowing what to expect from a barn find rumor, he and a couple of friends made a weekend trip to check it out. Sure enough, it was a convertible, Stan couldn’t believe his fortune but how bad was it? Wife Judy’s first impression of the car was “OMG”! The car had been stored in a sawmill shed for thirty two years, it was ‘deja-vu’ all over again. It took some work to get the car out of the shed but once it was out, it was in remarkable shape. Stan’s intent was to resto-mod the car to look like an early sixties mild custom, except of course, with new running gear.

Having maneuvered around the junk in the sawmill shed, Stan was amazed at how good the body appeared. Now if only the rust hasn’t attacked it too badly! Best part: The canvas top is intact!

Having maneuvered around the junk in the sawmill shed, Stan was amazed at how good the body appeared. Now if only the rust hasn’t attacked it too badly! Best part: The canvas top is intact!

He initially started with the idea of using a first generation 392 ci Hemi, but decided to step up and use a Gen III 6.1 Hemi out of a 2007 Chrysler 300 SRT8. Well, programming and wiring issues are complicated simply because of the four ECU computers in a passenger car application.

So Stan contacted Chris Squier at Hotwire Auto, and he told Stan to find a 545RFE transmission out of a Hemi Dodge Ram pickup, thus only needing one ECU to operate the engine and tranny, with reprogramming to run the 6.1 hemi. Hotwire made the harness for the computer and programmed the system to work.

For the car’s regular wiring Stan used a Painless harness mounted in the trunk along with the battery and computer system. The way that Hotwire Auto laid the system out, all of the wiring is very well concealed and the car has a super clean engine and firewall.

Well, that’s certainly one way to remove a car from a shed!

Well, that’s certainly one way to remove a car from a shed!

Jerrod Jardine made up a great custom header setup to solve the main exhaust problem. A remote oil filter was installed along with a remote tranny cooler and a remote power steering reservoir.

Lokar solved the transmission shifter problem with a floor shifter, a drive by wire throttle assembly and emergency brake system. Dakota Digital VHX gauges fit perfectly to emulate the original gauges. A Dakota Digital fan controller was used along with an AFCO radiator to control the cooling system.

Left: Tyrrell Chevrolet apparently sold the Plymouth at some time in its life. The rare (these days) metal dealer tag is still on the trunk.
Right: The old ratty Plymouth doesn't look THAT bad! In 1956, the trim on the side of the Belvedere was called “Sportone trim.” The “fins” were known as “Flight Sweep” and the whole of the Mopar line was called the “Forward Look.”

The front suspension is exactly like their 1955 Plymouth, Stan used a torsion bar front clip from a 1988 Chrysler Fifth Avenue and adapted it to the stocker. The rear suspension is still leaf springs perched on a 1998 Ford Explorer differential with 3:55 ratio gears and disc brakes.

Stan, Brother-in-law Ron Chaney, good friends Randy Binfet and Steve Schaffer handled all of the fabrication and body work and putting the car in primer. Stan had Doug Walters at Starbrite Restoration do the final finish on the body and paint it. The paint is two-stage Sky Blue Pearl Metallic over Moonshine Pearl White from Summit Racing.

Left: Snuggled in, the Hemi looks like a natural in the compartment.
Right: Firewall and inner fenders look nice all cleaned up and painted. Boosted master cylinder fits well, doesn’t stick up too high.

The interior is going to be white with pleated inserts, blue carpet and a center console to house the shifter and Secret Audio stereo system, with power-amplified six speaker stereo system. Stan plans to install a white convertible top. So far, the car has been lowered, has louvers in the hood, and will eventually run wide whitewall tires, hubcaps, fender skirts and some pinstriping.

Stan would certainly like to say thanks to many friends and great businesses for making this dream come true. Also long-time friend Rick Thurston at Rick’s Rod Shop provided much needed counsel and parts advice.

Left: Smell that? That’s base coat/clear coat from Summit. Recently unwrapped at Starbrite, the Plymouth is two-toned, similar to what the factory did back when. The Blue is Sky Blue Metallic and the white is Moonshine Pearl White.
Right. Outside on a cold Wyoming day, the car looks right! Interior and top will be next.

While the Plymouth looks finished here, it is not. The interior needs to be finished, the top needs to be done and of course, the convert has yet to make its first drive to work out the “new car” bugs. Rest assured, Stan and Judy’s ‘Plymie’ will get just as many road miles as his old ’55!

What do you think of Stan’s Plymouth – did he improve a classic? Let us know in the comments below, and if you have a project of your own that you’ve been slaving away at, share it with us! Send us an email and yours could be the next project featured in “What Are You Working On?”.

About the author

Roger Jetter

Roger’s interests in cars started at 14 with a ’40 Ford pick-up until he bought his first ’57 Chevy at age 16. That car is featured in the first two books he’s written about the 1960’s and growing up in the Midwest. He’s authored several more books as well and has built several cars over the years that have received major coverage in magazines and won plenty of awards. His current build is a 1948 Cadillac Sedanet, although his current 'driver' is a '55 Cadillac Coupe DeVille.
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