For those that have a little (or a lot) of military background, you’re no doubt familiar with the VFW. For those that aren’t, VFW stands for Veterans of Foreign Wars, an organization that assists and supports Vets. One thing it also does is run establishments (bars and pubs) outside most US military installations – even those overseas. I came across these three old MOPAR vets on a recent Sunday walk here in suburban Tokyo; on the left is a 64-66 Dodge Dart, in the middle a 62 Plymouth Savoy, and on the right an early 70’s Plymouth Duster. Seeing them lined up like this, my first thought was “three old timers, all a little more worse for wear, sitting at the bar in the VFW bending an elbow and sharing war stories.”
Actually, these three are sitting outside “Kennie’s MOPAR Service”, a small garage that specializes in helping Japanese owners of Highland Park’s finest. My guess is Kennie’s real name is Kenji, but as the place was closed, I couldn’t ask. I’ll definitely be back because I’d like to hear the backstory on how these three made it into his care – and what plans he has for them. It also happens that I have a “six degrees of separation” link with two of these three.
1964 Ford Fairlane 500
1966 Dodge Dart GT
1966 Ford Mustang
(Pictures are representative examples found on the Internet)
My first car, in 1972, was a 1964 Ford Fairlane 500 4 door with a 260 cu in 2 bbl V8 and a Fordomatic. One of my High School buds had a ’66 Dodge Dart GT, with the 273 4 bbl and Torqueflight. Another best bud had a ’66 Mustang Coupe with a 289 4 bbl A Code and Cruiseomatic. As you can imagine, I was routinely the loser at our stoplight Grand Prix’s, but what was also fairly consistent was the Dart walking away from the Mustang. They both made similar amounts of horsepower on-paper (235 for Chrysler, 225 for Ford) but the 273 was just stronger throughout the rev range. I was a Ford guy back then, but I admired that Dart and the 273 – it was a tough little engine.
I never had any association with a 62 Plymouth, other than having a burning desire to own one. Yes, the styling was polarizing – but it was pure Virgil Exner, and more importantly, could be had with the 413 cu in Max Wedge engine, which dominated the drag strip that year. Here was Chrysler showcasing its engineering prowess…quite different from my experience with the remaining product of this trio.
In 1976, the significant other at the time, having secured her first full-time job, bought a new Plymouth Duster – baby blue, with only a radio and Torqueflight as options. I remember two things clearly about that car, first; after only two weeks of ownership the ECM module fried and it had to be towed back to the dealer. Second, the first time I drove it I remember wrapping my hands around the cheap plastic steering wheel and encountering excess casting flash around the entire inner portion. At red lights, I’d kill time by peeling it off. That pretty accurately describes Chrysler quality control in the ‘70’s.
I’m glad I stumbled across Kennie’s – I feel a real kinship with these three old-timers – likely because I’m also a Vet, a lot worse for wear, and always up for hoisting a few cold ones while swapping old war stories…
Add my old 61 belvedere to the mix:
Love your 61. This view makes me ponder how much better this car would have been treated by buyers had the front end been done differently. From this view, I find this car really attractive.
Before Chrysler president Newberg’s boneheaded, last minute downsizing, the proposed 1962 Plymouth did, indeed, have a cleaned up front end. I think there is a CC about it. Essentially, it looks like the ‘plucked chicken’ ’62, but with a much wider grille, so the ‘dumbell’ styling of the outer headlights don’t look so out of place.
The rear was also refreshed, removing the two, side mounted taillights that looked like a couple of flashlights glued onto the quarter panels and, instead, having a pair of rather Ford-looking, horizontal taillights at the end of abbreviated fins.
The improved styling of what would have been the 1962 Plymouth is just another one of those automotive questions that we’ll never know how things might have turned out.
The older I get the more I like the 62 Plymouth. That rear view is really nicely done.
The Duster is a 70 or 71. I tried to narrow it down by color, but both years had a burnt orange/rust offered, so I can’t get closer.
I’m pegging the Dart as a 66. A very nice grouping of once-ordinary American cars in a very not-ordinary place.
Same here JP. And the Savoy the best looking of the bunch for that year having less trim to clutter a dramatic design. The grille is great and there is enough sheet metal detail to off set the simple tail lights that more trim is unnecessary.
And the Dart is a 66. The 65 had a sort of oval relief pressing in the middle and the 64 round lights like the 63.
I would love to know the backstory of how these three veterans made it to Japan. Please Jim, do go back. I imagine you could write a great interview with the shop owner.
I STILL want to add a ’60 Valiant and a ’62 Plymouth to my automotive stable.
“I like what I like”.
There’s lots to like about older Mo-Par Products IMO .
I’ve owned many Mopars over the years. My Dad bought a new 1973 Duster for $2175 out the door. There were NO options listed on the sticker.
Many of these basic cars were bought & sold years ago, but you’d be hard pressed to find a no-option car these days for the resulting low price. I’m not sure if people don’t want them anymore or vehicle manufacturers purposely install extra “standard options” to jack up the price. As an example, I believe it would be hard to find any vehicle without A/C today. The best I could do for nowadays basic transportation is a low optioned small pickup.
I have the same problem, Tek. No anti tech here, it’s just not needed for my purposes.
My own oddball is a 63 Valiant Signet. Radio and heater, nothing else except for possibly whitewalls when it was new. Top of the Valiant line aside from the convertible Signet and optioned like a 100 2 door sedan.
Just the sort of car I would have ordered in 63, except it probably would have actually been a 100. Loves me some rubber flooring.
You realize that you’ve found the very first curbside ’62 Plymouth ever at CC? It’s been on my Holy Grail list since forever. If you happen to go back, maybe he’s pull it out to the curb where you could get a full set of shots and that would inspire me to wax eloquently about it. I would truly love to have that car there, as long as original as it appears to be. Everyone one the web has been turned into 413 Max Wedge clone. Hopefully, it’s a slant six.
Right with you, Paul. A Slant in it would be sensational
That’s pretty amazing Paul – the first 62 Plymouth and it was found in Tokyo…
Yep, I’ll circle back and see if Kennie will allow me to take a few more shots and get some info on the cars.
Both my Father AND my non-automotive Mother always said that their 318 engine and “Three On The Tree” transmission equipped ’62 Plymouth Savoy was faster and peppier than their later ’66 Ford Country Sedan, equipped with the 390 4BBL “Thunderbird Special” engine and Cruise-a-Matic “Green Dot” transmission.
Of course the wagon weighed more; but had a bigger engine & carburetor. It sounded more powerful than it was, Dad always dryly commented. (Mom’s choice of car, not his.)
Ive never failed to spot vintage Detroit iron on any trip I’ve ever made to Japan,
even if that “vintage” wasn’t all that old. XJ-Cherokees, Astro-Safari Vans, and Blazer/Suburbans are profligate on the latter list, but I’ve seen everything from G2 F-bodies (one done up just how Billy Bob might have), to early 70s Impalas.
Korea on the other hand……:(
Still wondering how they got out of those cars parked so very close together.
Nice ! .
I eagerly await the stories behind these three old timers .
was there not some late night movie about mutant 62 Plymouths attacking Tokyo ? or was that 61 Plymouths …..;)
I dunno but last night there was a hilarious 1972 movie about giant mutated and carnivorous rabbits on the rampage in a small Arizona town….
SWMBO came in asking me what I was laughing about .
“Night Of The Lupus” ? With Janet Leigh?
That’s it ! .
I doubt it was meant to be a comedy but that’s how I took it =8-) .
Some pretty good model making and clever camera angles…..
Rabbits with fake blood on their teeth ~ amusing .