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1966 Plymouth Satellite Convertible

Posted by LOTGK on October 10, 2007

Let me tell you about a car I used to own. It was a 1966 Chrysler Plymouth Satellite convertible. Bucket seats, console on the floor, electric roof, and in terrible condition. I bought the car for 400 bucks. The ad in the paper said it was a 1965 Ford Fairlane. Imagine my surprise when the seller, (a little old man) lifted the garage door and there before me was the Chrysler Satellite. I paid the man the cash, had the title transferred and drove my new prize home.

I then went over the car to assess the condition and found that the fenders and real wells had separated from the frame and would need extensive repair. The next day, I drove it over to a friends house who works on cars and does body work. I told him to fix it. He said he would work on it during his spare time and he would bring it back to my house when he was finished.

Fast forward 11 months. I had long forgotten about the 66 Satellite when my friend pulled into my driveway with it. It looked fantastic. He had fixed the entire body of the car by welding new metal and reforming the fenders and rear wells and even fixed the holes in the trunk. He finished it off with a fantastic paint job. I thanked him profusely and was immediately on my way to the tire and wheels shop to get some spiffy new Krager Mag wheels and Road Hugger tires. The transformation was complete. The 66 Satellite looked fabulous baby.

And then it began. The ride in Pleasantville had turned ugly, naturally. One day on my way home from work in the summer, the weather turned for the worse and thunder storm clouds moved in quickly. Confidently, I reached for the electric roof switch to cover the interior and protect the car. Well, it worked for about 1 second and then quit. The fuse had burned out. The roof was up about 2 feet and was no help in shielding the car’s interior from the rain.

At this point, the rain let loose and it started pouring. Seconds later, it was raining so hard, the rain was coming down sideways. I tried to manually lift the roof but the electric cylinders and shocks locked it in place. I was drenched as I watched lightning strike all around me and I knew it was a hopeless cause.

So, with no other options, I hopped back into the drivers seat and made my way towards home in the driving rain. (No pun intended) I must say that I received some very peculiar looks when I rolled up to red lights and stop signs. All I could do was smile, wave at the onlookers, and laugh as I made my way home. Let me say that when you are traveling at 40 miles per hour, rain hurts. It felt like I was being stung by hundreds of bumble bees.

Finally, I reached home and quickly pulled the convertible into the garage. By this time, there was two inches of water on the floor and the seats were completely soaked. Apparently, my friend had done a very good job of welding all the holes in the frame of the car for absolutely no water was leaking out. I had to use the wet/dry shop vac to suck all the water off of the floor and the next day when the sun came out, I rolled the 66 Satellite out of the garage to let the sun complete the drying process to the upholstery and carpet floor.

But, that was only the beginning. College finals. As usual, I was late for class and having a scheduled final exam at 5:40 PM at Youngstown State University, I was in a hurry. Into the 66 I jumped and sped off to class. Down market street I blasted making really good time. The traffic lights were timed to let you miss all the red lights if you kept your speed at 30 miles per hour. I also found out that if you kept your speed a constant 60 miles per hour you would also miss the red lights.

As I approached the Market Street bridge, I was really cooking, roughly 70 miles per hour and that is when I hit a chuck hole and the 66 raised to it’s limits on it’s shocks and then violently slammed down bottoming out the shocks. No harm no foul but I slowed the 66 down as I continued my trek.

At that moment, I noticed my gas gage had gone from a full tank reading to a dead empty reading. I also noticed people beeping their horns and pointing towards me and even some cars swerving out of the way to avoid me. I thought I really wasn’t traveling that fast or driving that reckless to warrant that type of behavior until I looked into my rear view mirror and saw something coming up on me at a very high rate of speed. And it was sparking like crazy. I stopped the 66 and opened the car door and looked back at the fast approaching object on a collision with me. YEP! It was my gas tank all right! And it was sparking. And it was going to hit my car.

Deductive reasoning led me to believe that when the cars shocks bottomed out in the chuck hole entering the bridge, it scraped against the straps holding the gas tank in place and dislodged it making it fall to the ground. Hence my gas gage reading going to empty in mere seconds. Everything was coming together including my car and it’s gas tank. Seconds later, the gas tank stopped just three feet from the trunk of my car. Such luck that the sparks did not ignite the tank causing a fire ball.

Sensing this lucky break, I opened the trunk of the car and was going to store the gas tank there for safe keeping. Then I would coast the car to the bottom of the bridge, push it into the Voyager Inn hotel parking lot, run the short distance to my class, take my final exam, and then deal with the gas tank issue after class.

Sounded like a good plan until the laws of friction and heat came into effect. I quickly grabbed the gas tank and found out that it was still red hot from sliding several hundred feet at a high rate of speed on cement. My hands now felt like they were on fire. People started to gather and stare. One helpful bystander offered up a thick pair of gloves. I accepted and hoisted the gas tank into the trunk spilling some gas on my shirt and pants. The bystander told me to keep the gloves and I slammed the trunk and pressed on.

Putting the car in neutral I coasted to the bottom of the bridge and with a stroke of luck the light was green and I drifted into the parking lot of the old Voyager Inn. Thinking that some gas was still in the fuel lines, I turned the key to start the car and it kicked over and I was able to pilot the 66 into a parking spot. I quickly locked the doors and sprinted to class. A quick check of my watch told me I was only 10 minutes late.

Opening the class room door, I approached the professor to apologize for being late and he stopped me half way to him. He said, “What the hell is that smell? Is that gasoline?” Realizing I was covered in gas and pretty much stinking from picking up the tank and hoisting it into the trunk, I was a deer in the headlights. Thinking on my feet, I grabbed a desk and chair and dragged them into the hall. I told the professor that I was willing to take the exam right there in the hallway so as not to be any more of a distraction to the rest of the class.

Reluctantly, he agreed and gave me the exam. An hour later I finished and off I went to get the 66 back home. I Called my friend Brad for help from the University pay phone and explaining my predicament. He said he’d be right down. I met Brad at the car a half hour later. We rigged up a brace using a tow chain come-a-long and a piece of duct tape to attach the fuel line to the gas tank, I inched the car home. BTW, I aced the test.

Think that’s enough for the old 66? Hardly. I also had the bright idea to replace the motor in the car with a newer and faster one. I was moving up from a 318 cubic inch motor to a 360 cubic inch motor. My friend Guy was donating the car motor since the wagon it was coming out of was wrecked and he was going to have it crushed at the dump. Using a borrowed engine puller and stand, the old 318 motor came out easily.

The next day, I tried to install the new engine and found several startling problems. Realizing that the car was a 1966 and the new motor was a 1974 version, the motor mounts were not matching up. The transmission was also causing troubles with the guide holes not even coming close to matching up. After a day of brainstorming, I used a 1969 year model 727 transmission and a unique motor mount had to be welded to secure the 1974 motor. Welding several hacksaw blades together and securing them to the transmission linkage completed the operation of the new engine installation. The wiring to the fire wall was another nightmare but when I turned the key, the car engine turned over and all was good again.

To add one more tidbit about the 66 Satellite convertible. One night I was at my future wife’s house and we were making out at the bottom of the stairs. Unbeknownst to us, my car was being stolen right from under our noses. Upon leaving her house that night, I realized something was missing from the drive way. My freaking car was gone!!! The song was true. I only had eyes for her.

The police did recover the car several days later and it was basically still intact. The mag wheels were spared from being stolen for I reversed several of the lug studs on each wheel so if someone other than me tried to remove the wheels, they would be tightening several lugs on each wheel hindering them from getting the wheel off.

I polished the car up and sold it several months later to an unsuspecting sucker enamored with the glamor of a vintage 66 convertible.

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3 Responses to “1966 Plymouth Satellite Convertible”

  1. LOTGK said

    D-Advocate – Posted 11/20/2006
    I wonder where it is now.

    LOTGK – Posted 11/20/2006
    I saw it several years after I sold it. But that was in the late 80’s.

    GIDave – Posted 4/17/2007
    Sanjaya is driving it around on his American Idol tour.

    Rob – Posted 9/21/2007
    I’m buying a 66 convertible tomorrow. It is a total rust bucketand the price is 2800. I enjoyed your story and can only imagine the trials and tribulation I might encounter with this car.It is a big block car from Texas so it wouldn’t be your old one.Wish I had a friend like yours-hope he is still in your life as friends like that are hard to come by!

    LOTGK – Posted 9/21/2007
    Good luck with it Rob. When it’s all done, post a picture of it here.

  2. 57MotoHead said

    I love this story. I had an old Belverdere that had the same problem, bottoming out at fast speeds. The tank never came off but scraped the hell out of it a couple times. You need to post more car stories here if you have any more cars.

    • LOTGK said

      57, i have had over 30 cars in my lifetime so far. And counting… I will be for sure adding more stories about my Fast Times in my cars at a later date. And thanks for reading, commenting, and the kind words.

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