Junkyard-Found 1969 Plymouth Belvedere Gets the Perfect Gift: 426 HEMI

1969 plymouth belvedere 8 photos
Photo: MotorTrend Channel/YouTube
1969 Plymouth Belvedere1969 Plymouth Belvedere1969 Plymouth Belvedere1969 Plymouth Belvedere1969 Plymouth Belvedere1969 Plymouth Belvedere1969 Plymouth Belvedere
Introduced in 1951 as a two-door hardtop version of the Cranbrook, the Plymouth Belvedere became a stand-alone nameplate in 1954. Initially a full-size automobile, the Belverede was reassigned to midsize duty in 1962. Like most intermediates, it was involved in the muscle car wars of the golden era.
Plymouth's bread-and-butter midsize from 1964 to 1970, the Belvedere was available in five different body styles and just about every engine Chrysler had to offer at the time. But because the nameplate spawned vehicles like the Satellite, Road Runner, and GTX, it's rarely associated with high performance.

The fact that the 440-cubic-inch (7.2-liter) RB and 426-cubic-inch (7.0-liter) HEMI units were short-lived in this car also has something to do with it. The latter, for instance, was only available in 1966 and 1967. As soon as the Road Runner debuted for the 1968 model year, the Belvedere was restricted to the 383-cubic-inch (6.3-liter) Super Commando as the range-topping lump.

That's not to say post-1967 Belvederes aren't nice classics; it's just that they can't give HEMI-powered Mopars a run for their money. Unless you do what the folks at MotorTrend did and drop a 426 V8 into a 1969 model-year coupe. Yup, it happened during the latest episode of the Roadkill web series.

But this isn't a usual engine swap that sees a restored Belvedere getting a beefed-up mill. Nope! The said two-door was resting in a Mopar junkyard without an engine, transmission, and rear end. But needless to say, it's not the kind of Mopar you'd expect to find at the scrapyard.

While most vehicles are in bad shape and need significant repairs to become drivable again, this Belvedere was in pretty good shape. Aside from the weathered orange paint and some missing components, the car was sound and ready to accept a new drivetrain. It was the perfect rat rod shell, and our hosts took full advantage of that.

So, is this 426 HEMI a true-blue unit from back in the day. Well, those are pretty at just under 11,000 examples produced from 1965 to 1971, so it's not surprising the mill you see here started life as a crate engine. But it's the next best thing I guess.

The goal wasn't to built a period-correct vehicle anyway, since the four-speed manual isn't a true 18-spline unit you'd usually find mates to a HEMI.

But the more important thing is that our hosts found the missing headlamps, got the engine going, and took the Belvedere for a spin. Now, isn't that the perfect way for an old Mopar to come back to life after sitting for years (or maybe decades)? Not to mention the significant power update over whatever this Belvedere had under the hood when new.

Options ranged from the base 225-cubic-inch (3.7-liter) inline-six to the range-topping 383-cubic-inch Super Commando. That's 145 to 330 horsepower. For reference, the 426 HEMI came with 425 horsepower on tap. This unit generate a whopping 560 horsepower on the dyno and sounds downright fantastic when the pedal hits the meta. Check it out in the video below.

If you liked the article, please follow us:  Google News icon Google News Youtube Instagram
About the author: Ciprian Florea
Ciprian Florea profile photo

Ask Ciprian about cars and he'll reveal an obsession with classics and an annoyance with modern design cues. Read his articles and you'll understand why his ideal SUV is the 1969 Chevrolet K5 Blazer.
Full profile


Would you like AUTOEVOLUTION to send you notifications?

You will only receive our top stories