Kiely Mackey Brings American Muscle To Drifting With A ’69 Plymouth

For most automotive enthusiasts, when drifting is mentioned in conversation, images of import tuner cars typically come to mind. What does not get thought of is a long wide classic American muscle car. But that’s exactly what Kiely Mackey built and we love it. For those unfamiliar, Mackey is a veteran drift car driver with two decades of experience driving cars sideways. He has owned, built, and drifted many cars over the years but his latest build is possibly getting him the most attention.From its outwardly apparence, this car is a 1969 Plymouth Sport Satellite. Under its iconic exterior, Mackey built the car to be a competitive drift machine. Mackey and his rowdy Plymouth were recently featured on the HertLife YouTube Channel.

Images and video courtesy of HertLife

Mackey Plymouth

This car is everything I wanted, put into one car. — Kiely Mackey

Mackey Plymouth

The build came about during a recent trip to the PRI Show. Mackey enjoys building old cars in a vintage NASCAR style. Mackey says the problem has always been that once he lowers an old car, installs a manual transmission and wider wheels and tires, it still handles like a car from the ’60s and ’70s. While traveling to the PRI Show this past December his friend and boss, Brian Wilkerson, told Mackey that if he wanted to build an old car to drift with he needed to put upgraded suspension under it. By the time Mackey was heading home from the show he had a game plan formed.

Under the ’69 Sport Satellite body Mackey fabricated mounting points to install the front crossmember out of a BMW E36 along with SLRspeed front suspension components that give the big Plymouth the steering angle and handling needed for drifting. In the rear, Mackey installed a Ford 8.8 rearend out of a Ford Explorer with 4.11:1 gears and he welded the differential solid to apply power evenly to both rear wheels. The rear suspension is fabricated by Mickey and is a four-link system similar to a fox body Mustang. “I don’t know geometry that well,” Mackey says. “So I kind of copied something that I know works.”


Keeping the rear tires spinning on the Plymouth is an L92 6.2L LS engine that, according to Mackey, has upgraded valvetrain, a big camshaft, and a BTR intake manifold. The engine makes 468 wheel horsepower on a Mustang chassis dyno, plenty for getting the big muscle car sideway. Power is transferred through a T-56 manual transmission that one of Mackey’s coworkers built for him, and he manipulates the throttle, brakes, and clutch with precision thanks to the Tilton floor-mount pedal box.

It’s all simple stuff, just in a weird car. — Kiely Mackey

Additional features include a custom cage that Mackey fabricated for safety and to stiffen the chassis. While he does enjoy drifting the car as it currently sits, Mackey says that his Plymouth needs to have the wiring cleaned up some and in the offseason he will likely paint the classic muscle car to emulate the color scheme of his father’s drag car from Mackey’s childhood. In the meantime, you can catch Mackey and his big old Plymouth at GridLife and other drift events. It’s a bit unusual to see a 17-foot long ’60s muscle car sliding sideways with modern import tuner cars, but its such an American thing to do and it would be great to see more builds like Mackey’s.

Mackey Plymouth

About the author

Jeremy Nichols

Jeremy loves to go fast, whether that's on two wheels, four wheels, or boating. With a willingness to compete at almost anything, Jeremy shoots competition long-range rifles matches and races road bicycles and enjoys building vehicles for people.
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