Wednesday, February 10, 2016
In the summer of 1967 Andrew Gavula was a recent high school graduate beginning a new career in a family
plumbing business.An avid gearhead, Gavula wanted to celebrate this time of his life by purchasing a new car and it was either going to be a Dodge Coronet R/T or Plymouth GTX. “There wasn’t too many around our area and I went to Syracuse but I couldn’t find anything,” says Gavula. “I came back to our area and found a gold with black vinyl top GTX at Karl Gould’s Endicott Plymouth. It had Kelsey Hayes wheels. It was a sharp car.”
The dealership gave him a $495.50 discount and the young Gavula shelled out $3,875.50 to bring the car home.
Under the hood was a 440-ci engine with a single 4-barrel carb and that combo was rated at 375HP. It was plenty for
the young Gavula and while he did a little street racing with the car he mostly pampered it and by 1972 the odometer read just 30,000 miles. “I’m a meticulous guy,” says Gavula. “I take care of everything I’ve ever owned.”
In 1972 Gavula was thinking it was time to find a wife, settle down and start a family and the GTX wasn’t the
most practical of daily drivers. There was no chance he was going to sell a car so special to him, so storage space was rented, the GTX parked and a Buick Regal purchased to replace it.
There car remained in storage for close to 40 years and then in about 2010 Gavula started thinking it was time to do something with the car. “But I didn’t want to do a restoration,” he says. “I knew what a stock GTX looked and drove like. I wanted a resto mod, something subtle but special.”
This is where Peter Klutt and his Legendary Motorcar Company came into the picture. Once Gavula knew what he wanted he had to find the right shop to build it. Gavula was already familiar with Klutt because he was a fan of Klutt’s Dream Car Garage TV show. Gavula also owns a couple of Z06 Corvette track cars and his interest in road racing often found him at Watkins Glen International where he was able to meet Klutt, who races there, and develop a friendship.
It was through those meetings that the car made its way to LMC and Gavula fell in love with the Great White North. “I love your country,” he says. “I love the people, the roads,, everything.” He also loves the work that comes out of the shop, thanks to, among others Jason Humphries and Ken Stewart. “Make no mistake, I had an idea in my head,” says Gavula. “I researched it for a year before deciding to move forward with the build.” It was the LMC crew, though, who helped refine and bring Gavula’s ideas to life.
“They asked me what I intended to do with the car,” says Gavula “I wanted to build something special for myself. I wanted to show it but I also wanted to drive it and I wanted the changes to be subtle and it had to have a Hemi. That’s the jewel so it had to have that.” Basically, he wanted a car that looked like a 1967 GTX but drove like a C6 Corvette with the same horsepower the supercharged LS motors were putting out.
When it came to fulfilling Gavula’s Hemi wishes, LMC contacted Tim Banning at For Hemis Only out of Bewdley, ON. Banning started with an all aluminum Keith Black 426 hemi and then bored and stroked it to 572-ci. He bolted on a set of FOH aluminum heads and an FHO dual quad intake manifold topped by dual 1,300 CFM throttle bodies. Using a multi port injection FAST EFI system the Hemi dyno tested at 875HP@6,500 with 775lflbs@5,200 of tire shredding torque.
While Banning was building the engine the LMC crew went to work “subtly” modifying the GTX, which started with stripping the car to bare metal and jettisoning all the stock suspension. The car was very solid so most of the sheet metal work, save for a few minor quarter panel patches, was custom in nature and started with reshaping the rear inner wheel tubs and widening them 2”. The unibody rear frame axle arch was also reshaped to enable a lower stance and make room for ultra fat 305 rear tires on 18x10 wheels.
The original rear leaf springs and 8 3/4 Mopar rear end were replaced with a Dana 60 rear end with hand built rear truck arms with QA1 coil overs. The front spindles and upper and lower control arms were all custom built and a Flaming River power rack and pinion
steering setup is used. QA1 coil overs were also used up front. Gone are the stock brakes, replaced by Baer 14” rotors on all four corners with 6-piston calipers. The rear 18x10 Billet Specialities Mag wheels are wrapped in 305/45/ZR18 Nitto NT555R drag radials. Up front the 18x8 wheels are wearing 255/45/ZR18 Nitto Extreme ZR tires.
The only major exterior change to the car’s original lines is the addition of a custom fabricated sheet metal Super Stock style hood scoop and a modified front fender emblem, located above the stock GTX emblem, that now says 572 HEMI instead of BELVEDERE.
The final exterior colour is a match to the original gold with some modern “accents” while the undercarriage and engine bay were painted a satin tone of the same gold colour. “It’s a different look,” says Gavula, of the use of the satin tone. “Everybody goes with gloss but it looks great and I’ve had so many compliments about it.”
A custom fuel cell was built into the trunk pan and the battery and a 6-disc CD changer and radio were also relocated to the trunk. The battery is hidden within a custom box while the CD changer resides behind a custom panel. More killer custom work is evident in the GTX cabin. The custom touches in the interior include radio delete, deleted heater/defroster controls and a custom gauge bezel within the stock dash filled with six Auto Meter Arctic White gauges.
The stock buckets were replaced with Procar by Scat bucket seats stitched in black leather and suede by Gary Nolan at Diamond Trim upholstery in Aurora, ON. Nolan also inserted custom GTX emblems in the seats and custom wrapped the door panels in black leather and suede.The headliner is black suede. A black short cut pile carpet with custom mats covers the floor.
The GTX is originally a console automatic that ran a 727 Torque Flite but since a Tremec TKO600 5-speed manual transmission is now bolted behind the 572 Hemi the LMC crew added a third pedal and shortened and modified the original Pistol Grip shifter to work within the stock console opening.
All three pedals and the E-brake pedal are custom milled stainless steel pieces. Power window switches were also built into the stock console. An Ididit stainless column with custom steering linkage is topped by a Billet Specialties Split Spoke 15.5” steering wheel with a custom GTX horn button.
A push button start is installed in the dash and a custom mounted remote face to operate the CD/Radio unit is stealthily mounted in the centre console. The build took about 3.5 years to complete and the car made its Canadian debut at the 2014 Motorama in Toronto, ON. It won its class, Best Paint and Best Engine. It was also featured in an episode of Dream Car Garage where Klutt demonstrated the car’s tremendous power by performing a very entertaining burnout.
The car was built to be driven but it hasn’t seen a lot of miles or even a lot of shows yet as Gavula’s been saving it for something special. He’s always wanted to show a car at the Detroit Autorama and now, thanks to Klutt and the multi-talented crew at LMC he feels he has a car worthy of the show.
He knows it can’t compete for the Ridler because it’s already been shown but he also knows it will not be out of place there. Indeed it won’t be. Purists may disagree, but we think this car is infinitely better than it was the day in 1967 it rolled off the Lynch Road assembly line.
Article in Canadian Hot Rods Magazine