So many dearly departed automakers, so little space to cover all of them. Recently, in a discussion about how best to pay tribute to car and truck manufacturers that are no longer in business, West Coast Editor Jeff Koch thought it’d be interesting to feature orphaned vehicles that each of us on the Hemmings staff has photographed, written about, or experienced firsthand.
Even using that as a starting point, it was tough to winnow the list down to something manageable, but here are our best efforts at capturing the essence of some of the world’s Late Great Makes. Hopefully, we’re onto something here and can put together another one of these in the future. As always, we welcome photos and descriptions of your favorite late greats. Send them along to email@example.com.
1966 PLYMOUTH HEMI BELVEDERE II
Featured: Hemmings Muscle Machines, December 2015
Photographed: Columbus, Ohio
Mike Shane heard a rumor about a 1966 Hemi Belvedere II that was holed up in a garage since the 1970s. He owns Shane Tool & Machine in New Philadelphia, Ohio, and learned from a friend at Timken that this Plymouth was being sold by the owner’s brother.
It was stored in Mike’s hometown of Canton, and he soon realized its garage was right across the street from a drive-in he frequented in the 1970s in his ’65 Mustang. Mike recollected hearing about a fast Plymouth back then but never saw it.
He laid eyes on the 31,800-mile Mopar in 2008, and recalls, “I couldn’t believe the Belvedere was as nice as it was. It wasn’t the typical rusty, dusty barn find that you normally hear about. It was pretty clean on the outside and appeared to have its original paint. I looked it over carefully to see if it was repainted—it wasn’t. And the motor looked like it had never been out of the car.
”Mike closed the deal, freshened the Hemi/TorqueFlite/Sure Grip powertrain, and had the chassis restored, but the body and interior remain as-discovered, except for detailing (though the carpet’s front section was replaced).
The 425-hp dual-four-barrel 426 Hemi engine with its hemispherical-chamber heads is a legendary performer. The impressive package it came in also included upgrades to the cooling system, exhaust, driveline, underbody, suspension, brakes, and tires, and its $907.60 cost was a significant chunk of change when added to a $2,524 Plymouth.
I photographed Mike’s Belvedere II at the 2015 Goodguys event in Columbus, where the top of the parking structure provided engaging backgrounds. I’ve been a Hemi Mopar fan since the early 1980s, so hearing the rumble of this open-header example each time Mike fired it up, and learning its backstory, added welcomed dimensions to the shoot for me. — Thomas A. DeMauro