Okay, car movie fans, what’s the first thing you think of when I say “Joe Dirt?” No, not septic tank failures or bad mullets. Chances are your next answer would be that iconic rat-rod 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona with the chain-link steering wheel, bare primered fenders, and a whole lot of rust.
While that car is certainly featured heavily in the film, for my money, THE car of the movie is Joe’s fabled Hemi, the bright orange 1967 Plymouth GTX Hemi Convertible. As such, I thought we’d talk a bit about the history of the GTX and have a look at the movie car, in this month’s installment of “Rob’s Movie Muscle!”
The Plymouth GTX was first introduced for the 1967 model year. It was based on the brand’s two-door Belvedere and B-body platform. The GTX was conceived from the outset as being a “Gentleman’s Hot Rod” that combined luxury and performance. It was made available as a two-door hardtop and a convertible.
The GTX was only available with a pair of big-block, high-output V8 options. It was also bequeathed a bespoke grille and tailpanel, non-functional, fiberglass twin-hood scoops, and a chrome, pop-open gas cap to differentiate it from a run-of-the-mill Belvedere.
One of the two powerplants offered was a revised version of Chrysler’s 440-cubic-inch V8, good for 375 horsepower and 480 lb-ft of torque. The other option was the 426-cubic-inch Hemi-V8 “Elephant” motor, making 425 horsepower and 490 lb-ft of torque.
The 440 in the GTX was dubbed the “Super Commando.” It was tuned for better high-RPM performance via a revised camshaft and valvetrain, as well as large throttle bores, dual-snorkel air cleaner, cast headers, and a free-flowing exhaust system. The 426 was unchanged from its specification in other models.
Backing these lumps was the standard 727 TorqueFlite three-speed automatic transmission, or the optional A-833 four-speed manual transmission, which also included a larger ring gear, double-breaker distributor, improved cooling fan, and an oil-pan windage tray. The shifter for the automatic was on the column unless the buyer ordered the optional floor console, while the four-speed was floor mounted.
Hemi cars received a 3.23:1 rear-axle ratio when fitted with the TorqueFlite, and a Dana 60 Sure-Grip diff with a 3.54:1 ratio when equipped with the four-speed. The 440s had a 2.94:1 ratio as an option with the automatic, but did not receive the Sure-Grip differential.
All of this firepower resulted in serious performance numbers for the era. The 440 was capable of a 0-60 time of 6.6 seconds and a quarter-mile in 15.2 seconds at 97 mph. The Hemi was even more of a beast, getting to 60 in 4.8 seconds, and the quarter-mile in 13.5 seconds at 105 mph.
In addition to the serious drivetrain, GTX buyers could expect superb handling in their new car, courtesy of heavy-duty shocks, six-leaf rear springs, front torsion bars, and an anti-sway bar.
Drum brakes were standard on the GTX, with a dual hydraulic system that dedicated one reservoir to the front and one to the rear. The drums measured 11 x 3-inches up front and 11 x 2.5-inches in the back. Four-piston front discs were optional. “Dog Dish” hubcaps over body-colored steel wheels were standard, but Sport and Deluxe full wheel covers were available, as were road wheels similar to Magnum 500s. Tires consisted of 7.75 x 14-inch bias-ply Goodyear Red Streaks on all four corners. White walls were optional on Hemi cars.
Inside, the GTX had an upgraded interior from standard Belvederes. Highlights included a wooden steering wheel, bucket seats with optional, adjustable headrests, a 150-mph speedometer, simulated woodgrain paneling, chrome trim, and front and rear outboard seatbelts. Interior options were plenty and included a floor console that could be outfitted with a stand-alone tachometer.
The exterior featured a blacked-out grille, an Argent Silver tailpanel treatment, and optional twin racing stripes. Twenty-two paint colors were available. Hardtops could be outfitted with vinyl roofs available in black, white, and green; convertibles had a choice of tops in the same colors.
In total, 12,690 GTXs were produced in 1967. Hardtops numbered 12,010, while 680 were convertibles. Hemis were installed in only 125 cars, and of those, only 14 found their way into ragtops.
Given these numbers, it should come as no surprise to you that Joe Dirt’s 1967 Plymouth GTX Hemi convertible was, in fact, not a 1967 Plymouth GTX Hemi convertible. A car that fetching serious six-figure prices at auction couldn’t and would never be used in production.
What if I told you I don’t think the car in the film is a GTX at all? Yeah, you got that right. I think it’s a run-of-the-mill Belvedere dressed up to look like a GTX.
While no hard-and-fast info was available to qualify my conjecture, I’ll throw some clues at you to illustrate my theory.
First off, in spite of the aforementioned 22 color choices, the GTX was never available in the Vitamin C orange – the color of the movie car. What’s more, the black stripes adorning Joe’s car are incorrect in width and spacing. How many vehicles as valuable as a 1967 Plymouth GTX Hemi convertible would be restored in the wrong colors? Answer: zero.
What’s more, in one shot of the interior, a 120mph speedo can be seen. The GTX came standard – regardless of engine – with a 150mph unit. This suggests the car was either incorrectly restored, or more likely, started life as a Belvedere.
Further inaccuracies include missing chrome trim on the taillights and the wheelwells, both indicative of a Belvedere. Also, the car is missing the chrome gas cap that was a piece of standard GTX trim.
For me, the coup de grâce is the big ole’ bench seat in Joe’s car in lieu of buckets. No GTX was ever equipped with a bench up front – not one.
Add all these things together, and the only answer that makes sense is that Joe’s GTX was far from it. It’s still a nice looking car, though, and still one heck of a funny film.
See you next time!