1963 Plymouth Savoy
Article and photos by Larry Crain
Okay the first line of the title should have gotten your attention right off the bat if you are a true fan of muscle cars. This fine example of a factory-produced true muscle car is owned by Rich and Paige Udell, who live in The Villages, Florida. If their name sounds familiar it is probably because of their Great 8 Award winning 1932 Ford Roadster known as “Timeless”, or their other well-known car “Instigator”, which is a 1934 Chevrolet sedan. When I saw Rich and Paige recently in Panama City Beach, Florida during the Spring Emerald Coast Cruizin’, they were riding in, not a street rod, but this awesome little Plymouth Savoy.
These muscle cars look pretty innocent with very little giving away their true nature except for the bad-ass hood scoop that gives you some warning not to tease a dog that bites. This particular car is what is classified as a Stage II Max Wedge, which means it is equipped with the 426 wedge RB block, not to be confused with the 426 Hemi that was to come into production later on. The Max Wedge was a race-only version of the 426 engine offered from the factory, which means they are the first vehicles that can be classified as "muscle cars" by the very strict definition as an intermediate-bodied car with a big-block motor. Sorry lovers of Ford and GM muscle cars, but these two companies did not offer a performance big block car during those years.
This particular piece of muscle car history has only 9,600 miles on it and is a late 1962 to early 1963 production number, which means it sports a 1962 dash with the radio and heater delete option as a Stage II. The car was bought by its first owner and raced in California where it ran the ¼ mile in 11 seconds at 118 mph. All of this information is thoroughly documented with the original order books, manuals, service manual, parts book and race documentation.
This Plymouth Savoy is nothing but business when you look at what it does not have, no power steering and no power brakes just 426 cubic inches pumping out 425 horsepower. The factory interior is super clean with a push button automatic transmission, white vinyl covering the factory bench seat, mandatory fuzzy dice for that little innocent me touch and yes, that signature on the dash is the real deal from “Big Daddy” himself, Don Garlits.
The original owner eventually retired the car from racing and registered it for street use; the car still has that California license plate. The car was eventually sold to a man in Chicago that had a dreamed for years of owning a Max Wedge car, and he started restoring the old race car, but as luck would have it, he fell upon hard times. This was where Rich Udell came into the picture. Rich had once owned a similar car that he had bought new in 1963 and was ready to own one again. Right place, right time, right price and it was his.
If you ever happen to pull up beside one of these innocent looking, old Mopars with the dog dish hubcaps, plain-looking exterior and a strange looking hood, and feel like YOU need to prove something, all I can tell you is don’t do it, just let it go.