Facebook Find: 1971 Plymouth Satellite Wagon – A Plymouth For Roy DeSoto (and Johnny Gage)

If you find that your conversational partners don’t understand your cultural references, you might be a 21st-century fan of the Jack Webb holy trilogy: Dragnet, Adam-12, and Emergency!.  Webb’s shows sometimes included dialogue that was, to put it mildly, a bit preachy (I sometimes find myself commenting that “this episode’s script has the light touch of Jack Webb.”). But in general, he provided some entertaining television, always involving a dynamic duo: Friday and Gannon in Dragnet, Reed and Malloy in Adam-12, and Gage and DeSoto in Emergency!.  Those guys drove a bright red Dodge truck to fight fires and save lives in the greater Los Angeles area, but if they had a wagon for mundane chores and drives to the store, this would have been it.

Emergency! ran for six seasons, from 1972 to 1977, and unlike the other shows I’ve previously mentioned, episodes were an hour long.  To me, this led to some needlessly protracted scenes and sideshow shenanigans, but I’m no expert in television production.  The main characters drove a Dodge Truck-based unit for “Squad 51,” and its color looks uncannily similar to that of our featured Satellite, which I recently found while scanning Facebook Marketplace.

Here is the ad: 1971 Plymouth Satellite Wagon-good solid car that was painted about 2 years ago (original FE5 Rally Red) will need the rest of the trim installed and the fuel gage (sic – but appropriate for the subject matter) addressed. The original 6 cyl. in this car runs like a watch $7500

Wait, what?  Yes, this big B-Body is powered by the familiar Slant Six and its corresponding 904 Torqueflite.  Remember, many trucks and large Chrysler Corporation cars used the Slant Six as standard equipment, so it isn’t a particularly out-of-the-ordinary find, but I can’t decide whether it’s more desirable as a result of its quirkiness or less desirable as a result of its miserable power-to-weight ratio.  A Slant Six is good enough in a Valiant or a Dart, but a Satellite?  This might be a good opportunity for a mechanically-minded buyer to plumb in a turbocharger, which is a not-unpopular pastime among diehard fans of the Slant Six.

Regardless of your take on the color or the powertrain, anyone must admit that this is a nice-looking wagon with (if the pictures don’t lie, and they sometimes do) a good paint job and straight panels.

The first-year of this bodystyle is awfully clean and probably somewhat unappreciated today, and it earns extra styling credit for the front side-marker lights.  Without a roof rack, this Satellite looks long and low, but it would be less practical for carrying large items at the fire station.

The interior hasn’t received the same attention as the body has, with a cracked dash pad and a ripped front bench.  This is where a reasonable asking price becomes dangerous: A cursory search for 1971-74 Plymouth dash pads resulted in the more-common-every-day “out of stock” disclaimer.  There are a couple options through Classic Industries, ranging in price from $400 to about $700, which is about a tenth of the purchase price of the entire car.  Upholstery for the front bench is likely to suffer from a similar state of either unavailability or expense.

At least the back seat looks salvageable, and one could always resort to the time-honored blanket over the front seat and carpet over the dash pad until that glorious future utopia when the supply chain coughs up its early-’70s Mopar parts.

The seller’s injunction that the trim would need installation is less deflating than it sounds; if this is all the trim on the car, why would the seller not just set aside an evening and do it?  As an aside, it appears that the Mopar tradition of plywood wagon load floors was still going strong in 1971.

The seller included this less-than-instructive picture of the undercarriage, but in reality, it’s enough to show a potential buyer that the car is (a.) not from Michigan or (b.) hasn’t been driven in the winter.  That torsion bar crossmember would be an unidentifiable hulk if neither (a.) nor (b.) were true.

The original Emergency! Dodge “Squad 51” was powered by a 440 RB engine, so Gage and DeSoto might have a hard time growing accustomed to the lack of oomph provided by a 225, but if you’re in a mood to reenact your favorite Jack Webb heroes from the 1970s, this would be a good place to start.  And you don’t need any preaching from me to do so.