Classics Imagine Scoring Not One But Two Rare Mopars While Still in High School

21:40  04 october  2017
21:40  04 october  2017 Source:   HOT ROD

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He still has the original 15×6 spare as well. In high school Mark did something most car guys can only dream of: He bought not one but two rare Mopars , taking advantage of their availability in the late 1970s.

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In the late 1970s, the Denver area was a hotbed of obtainable, topnotch muscle cars. Gas was expensive, insurance was through the roof, and good deals on hot rides could be had if you were willing to seek them out, make an offer, and take a chance on a slightly used (and possibly abused) street performer.

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After driving it for a little while this way, he started to tear it down. Brian’s original plan was to just put on a new paint job and use the truck as a driver, but that changed. Imagine Scoring Not One But Two Rare Mopars While Still in High School .

Research

Research

That snippet of information didn't work out for everyone looking for a deal on a car, but it certainly did for local high schooler Mark Kahre. You see, the car-crazy teenager was bitten by the Mopar bug at an early age, and when a family friend stopped by with his slightly used, but new to him, 1968 GTX, well, young Mark just could not stop thinking about it.

"I remember when he would take us for a ride, he would head out, drive around a bit very casually, then just about the time everyone in the car was comfortable, he would geton it. The car would just go crazy. Nothing I had ever ridden in ran like that 440 GTX," says Mark. So when he turned 16, he just had to get a Mopar to call his own.

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  Imagine Scoring Not One But Two Rare Mopars While Still in High School © Hot Rod Network Staff

Ride and Seek

Mark had already found for his older brother a 440/6 'Cuda sitting in a local parking lot, and it wasn't long before Mark spotted another ride sporting the big-displacement wedge motor topped with six-barrel induction: a 1970 Superbird cruising the local streets.

He chased the car down and popped the big question at a stoplight. "Is the car for sale?" Luckily the answer was yes.

Now, most 16-year-old muscle car aficionados would have been satisfied with that killer catch, but Mark was not. He wanted more—a Hemi. Over the winter Mark and his brother started scouting for a Hemi. They looked at several cars, but it seemed like they were either unoriginal Hemi clones or ex-racers that were beaten to a pulp and thus needed too much to get back on the street.

In the spring of 1978 they came upon an ad in their local newspaper for a 1968 Hemi GTX, a four-speed car that had been hit by a semi-truck on the highway. It was an original car, being sold by the original owner, so the brothers figured they would at least take a look. If it was real bad, the worst-case scenario would be to part the car out and take the Hemi, and maybe transplant it in something cheap and light, like a Duster.

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He knows because the second, third, and fourth owners were buddies of his in high school . They sold the car among themselves until Hornback paid ,500 for it in 1977. Imagine Scoring Not One But Two Rare Mopars While Still in High School .

Many of the slippery body mods are straight out of Smokey’s Trans-Am Camaro playbook, while underhood is today’s 427: a 505hp LS7. Imagine Scoring Not One But Two Rare Mopars While Still in High School .

When they went to look at the GTX, their first impression was that they were looking at the wrong car. The damage to the B-Body was minimal, and the car ran. Needless to say, the boys were highly interested. After some haggling, the boys got the sweet, black-skinned Plymouth for $1,350.

  Imagine Scoring Not One But Two Rare Mopars While Still in High School © Hot Rod Network Staff

Road Ready

They immediately repaired the damaged quarter-panel and did a garage repaint of the GTX. But problems arose when they tried to tune the motor. They realized the fuel and air adjustment screws were broken off one of the four-barrel carbs. So a new pair of Hemi carburetors was located, and like the smart, forward-looking kid he was, Mark stashed the originals away for safekeeping.

He soon had the car on the road, storing the Superbird for the time being so this Elephant-motored GTX could be his main squeeze. He used the B-Body as his commuter car, getting him to school and his after-school job during his teen years.

Mark did a complete engine rebuild in the early 1980s and kept the GTX on the road along with a daily driver pickup. He got through college and soon married his sweetheart Leigh. He drove the GTX until the early 1990s when the car started smoking intermittently. Fearing a major problem, Mark put the car away so he would not damage the original Hemi.

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Then two ’59 Caddy taillight lenses were mounted in custom housings on each side of the swing arm, along with some repop toolboxes, to really personalize the effort. Imagine Scoring Not One But Two Rare Mopars While Still in High School .

In 1997, Mark felt the time was right for a ground-up restoration on the GTX. "I was very nervous about taking the car apart," he admits. But that didn't deter him. The GTX was torn down to the bare metal, and every part was tagged, bagged, photographed, boxed, and set aside for the resto to follow.

The first attempt at doing the body and paint on the Plymouth was a complete disaster. After spending 10 grand and getting burned, the car was put back in storage. Mark held out for a few more years and then regrouped. By then he had met Jon King, proprietor of Kings Auto Restoration in Englewood, Colorado, and hired him to do the GTX's restoration.

Mark says, "Jon got a kick out of the way I had all the parts stored and categorized. Everything was there. He said normally when people bring him a car that has been disassembled, he gets a shell of a car and a pile of parts." Not this time. Everything was there and accounted for. Jon did a number on the car, and brought it to the condition you see here.

He was not alone in this task. Hemi guru Steve Hagberg took the 426 engine to his shop for a complete rebuild. He found that the smoke coming from the motor was from a failed intake manifold gasket. Besides that, little was needed to bring the mammoth motor up to snuff and ready for reinstallation. Once reunited with its Hemi, the GTX was ready for the street again.

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And, like the original altered-wheelbase Mopars , it’s quite a handful to drive. This thing just loves to stand up on the back bumper, but it comes down nice and easy about halfway through Second gear. Imagine Scoring Not One But Two Rare Mopars While Still in High School .

Having fallen in love with his black ’67 over the last two decades, he couldn’t imagine anything more appropriate than to park this 426 Hemi Plymouth right next to it. Imagine Scoring Not One But Two Rare Mopars While Still in High School .

  Imagine Scoring Not One But Two Rare Mopars While Still in High School © Hot Rod Network Staff

One of One?

Turns out it was good thing the boys didn't part out the car back in the 1970s. It is an original B-code Black Velvet car that retains its 426 Hemi, four-speed transmission, and Dana 60 rear. It has power windows, an AM/eight-track, and a rear window defogger. But the icing on the cake is the original gold interior.

Mark figured he had an interesting color combination on the GTX, but he didn't know how rare it was until he ran into the Mopar Maharishi, Galen Govier, at the Mopars at the Strip show in Vegas a few years ago. Galen was judging and was quite smitten with the car. They talked extensively about the car and its history. Then Mark asked him the big question: "How many black/gold GTXs with these options were built?" Galen shook his head and said he had never seen another like it in his archives. With that revelation, Mark knew he had a GTX that could stand toe-to-toe with any other on the planet.

He continues to show the car, receiving awards and accolades wherever it goes. "But the most enjoyable times with the car are just driving it around, like going for a burger on Friday evening with friends at the local bowling alley. We try to get the car out regularly in the summer, and go to cruise nights," says Mark. "It's really a nice driving car."

Yeah, we believe you, buddy.

At a Glance

1968 GTX

Owned by: Mark Kahre, Wheat Ridge, CO

Restored by: Owner; King's Auto Restoration, Englewood, CO; Steve Hagberg

Engine: 426ci/425hp Hemi V-8

Transmission: 4-speed manual

Rearend: Dana 60 with 3.54 gears

Interior: Gold and black vinyl bucket seat

Wheels: 15x7 Magnum 500s

Tires: 235/70R15 front, 275/60R15 rear BFGoodrich Radial T/A

Special parts: Power steering, power brakes, power windows, rear window defogger, 3-speaker sound system, AM/eight-track, factory Hurst shifter, console

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