When Only Speed Mattered: 1965 Plymouth Belvedere

It must have been rough to be a cop back in the 1960s.  Street racing had become the second national pastime, and nearly everyone partaking of that pastime had more horsepower under the hood than your standard police car.  Cars like this 1965 Plymouth Belvedere, found on craigslist in Goldsboro, North Carolina, rocketed into the night in grudge matches with payoffs that ranged from bragging rights to pink slips.  While the coming decades cooled Detroit’s ardor for speed, cars like this still tore up the roads on occasion.  If you still have a hankering to play street racer, this road ready Mopar can be yours for a mere $18,500.

The owner of this red rocket is pretty tight lipped in the description of this car.  I am always baffled by the lack of information in many craigslist ads.  Given that craigslist is free to advertise on, why be so closed lipped on such a nice car?  What we do know is that this Belvedere 2 door post is powered by a “440 hp, 323 positive tractor rear end, four barrel carb.”  It also has a fuel cell in the trunk.

What I think the seller means to say is that the car is equipped with a 440 cubic inch engine with a four barrel carburetor.  That power is likely routed through (my guess) a Torque Flight automatic and into a limited slip differential with 3.23 gearing.  Sometimes auto correct on a phone or a tablet can make your spelling skills look poorly, as I am sure that anyone who builds a car to this standard knows what they put into it.

The seller also tells us that the car is set up to either race or use on the street.  The pictures bear this out.  There is nothing radical like ultra narrow front tires, wheelie bars, and it doesn’t appear that the car has been tubbed out to accept wider tires.  The fit and finish appear to be above average, and the car has that perfect tough street car stance.

A look at the picture above reveals that the car is low on interior thrills.  The black carpet, door panels, and late model seats with white piping present well.  Other than a large tachometer mounted to the dash, all of the factory instruments have been retained.  While it is hard to see from the picture, it appears that a modern stereo has been installed.  What I cannot see is any evidence of seat belts.  Back in the day, seat belts were often an afterthought.  For today’s traffic and speeds, I’d be looking for a way to install some in this car.

A fuel cell and the battery occupy the trunk of this red racer.  The rest of the trunk isn’t quite as finished out as the rest of the car.  The grey finish looks uneven, as if it were sprayed with a rattle can.  There is a bit of red overspray as well, but the area where the rear seat would back up to the trunk looks to have been covered with sheet metal for safety.  Obviously the builder of this car has a bit of experience in building vehicles such as this.

Under the hood sits the legendary MOPAR 440 cubic inch V-8.  Modern touches such as the valve covers, air cleaner cover, distributor and wires, and perhaps the carburetor and intake manifold look good in this mostly well finished engine compartment.  I do believe I would set the car up with a dual circuit braking system and a more modern master cylinder if it were mine.  I also wonder how the stock looking radiator handles all the heat a breathed on 440 can put out on a hot day.

In all, this car has that cool “all show no go” look that appeals to a lot of MOPAR fans.  Cars like this were a fixture at drag strips of the sixties and seventies, which was a time before we got too serious as a nation.  The Chrysler Corporation sunk big bucks into their racing programs, with drag racing as the crown jewel of the effort.  Winning on Sunday and selling on Monday was a sales program that worked.  It also caused a lot of extra work for the cops too.




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  1. John M.

    I LIKE IT!

    Like 1
  2. BarnfindyCollins

    I think the ad is just fine. Let the car talk and the BS walk.

    Like 1
  3. DrinkinGasoline

    The ’64 and ’65 Belvedere’s are among my favorite 1960’s Chrysler products and this one looks well thought out and not overdone.

    Like 1
  4. Steve R

    I love the body style. If I could find a reasonably priced 63-65 Plymouth 2 door sedan in my area I’d jump at the chance to buy it.

    This may have once seen track time, but probably not as it currently sits. It has stock low performance exhaust manifolds, there is no eveidence of a battery cut off, it uses an awful lot of rubber fuel line but most importantly, the ratchet straps securing the fuel cell would cause it to instantly fail tech. It’s a nice street car with a drag racing inspired look.

    Like 1
  5. Jeffro

    With the headline on this car, I had to ponder. I thought speed still mattered!?

    • Bruce Jackson

      I will go one better than Jeffro and say that I think speed (and horsepower) matter even more now…

      Like 1
  6. Rube Goldberg Member

    Even though Chevy was hot in the early 60’s, Ford and Chrysler didn’t take it for long. These were the hottest Mopar’s to come down the pike in the mid-60’s. I think the 440( ’65 was the 1st year) was actually faster than the hemi. Many great drag teams had a lot of success with these, even became some of the 1st “Funny Cars” with altered wheelbases. Had a friend with a big block ’64 Dodge, and that thing was fast. Cool find.

    Like 1
    • John D

      Debut of the 440 was 1966. 413 and 426 Wedge prior to that. I have driven B-bodies with the 440 and the Hemi, I would say the Hemi was by far the fastest, but the 440 was an easier drive. That being said, I did have a difficult time keeping my foot off of the Hemi’s loud pedal.

      Like 1
    • DrinkinGasoline

      Oh please…plans where already in the works before 1960 by FoMoCo for lightweight production…do you honestly think that the Lightweights and the Thunderbolt were thought up during the same year of concept/production ?

    • DrinkinGasoline

      Seems as though we all “had a friend who had”…

    • Beaver

      Rube 65 was not the last year for the 440 I have a Super Bee with a 440 Six pack and you are right I think it is faster than the 426 Hemi I am building as we speak

  7. Bruce Jackson

    I like the car and the write-up on same. I had a neighbor whose oldest son (probably 5-10 years my senior) had a navy-colored one with what I recall was a 383 in it…Note: I was just a young 10 year-old gearhead…and that was over 50 years ago, so i could be wrong about the engine).

    All that said, I am a little confused about the “All Show, No Go” comment in the article, though. Are you suggesting that this car would be a “sleeper”? Maybe for a young fool who doesn’t know any better, but the black hood with the wide scoop should give anyone “cause to pause” before putting down serious cash in a strip or street drag race…

    Like 1
    • DrinkinGasoline

      Paint the hood flat black all day long but…Lets rock against a 427 SOHC under an unassuming bonnet…..I’ve got cash $$. Do You ?

  8. Troy s

    “All show no go looks that appeal to a lot of Mopar fans”…haha, I’m surprised no Mopar freaks out there have responded to that above remark in a, well, more unpleasant manner! Killer mid-sixties Plymouth that will most certainly GO rather quickly, as long as it’s in a straight line.👍

    Like 1
  9. Terry J

    Hate to be a cop in the 60’s? Here’s a cut and paste from 1963 about their MOPAR pursuit car : “The Dodge Polara pursuit, with a 413, managed the quarter mile in 15 seconds flat, with a top speed of 129 mph”. Oh.. and they had brakes and a H.D. handling package as well.
    I was near a State Trooper one evening in circa ’65 when he got a call. When he blasted out of there in his Dodge,it was a H*** Sh** moment for sure. :-) Terry J

    Like 1
    • Doug

      I had a ’62 Plymouth 4 dr when I got back from my graduation trip to Southeast Asia back in ’68…… it was only a 361, but quicker that the 383 Roadrunners that showed up to run – I later discovered the reason was simple – this car had been an undercover Federal car, and at that time, all Mopar PURSUIT car engines came from Chrysler Marine Division, and were factory blueprinted. Many times, the CHP would run down a 440 sixpack car on top end with a single 4bbl 426 Wedge with 40k+ on the odometer and the same 3.23 gears in the rear end. The CHP kept the cars til 75K, and then auctioned them off. My Plymouth, which got hammered frequently, was still running strong when I sold it at 161 K, although it was starting to go through oil at about a quart every 700 miles. The guy I sold it to spun a bearing in a drag race with a GTO – he was 2 quarts low at the time, and the car had 166K on it. He put in a 426 Wedge out of a CHP car, and the original pushbutton Torqueflite finally gave up at 182K. Not bad for a car from 1962 !

      Like 1
  10. Beatnik Bedouin

    I’m still wondering what tractor the rear end came out of, especially, as the standard 8 3/4″ unit would have done the job? The 3.23 cog is fine for a streeter, but a serious drag racer would have at least a 4.11 in the differential.

    Steve R’s comments are spot on; I have a feeling that the engine under the hood is a low-compression 440 with some go-fast goodies stuck on.

    I looks like a nicely done car that should make its new owner happy. These mid-’60s Mopars were the terrors of Stock and Super Stock classes at the drags when they were new.

    Like 1
  11. Bob C.

    Last year of the basic 1963 design. By this time it was a little dated, but I always liked them.


    Had a 65 Satellite, which I think is a bit fancier than the Belvedere
    Mine had a 361 bb, which folks don’t talk about to often. It loved to burn rubber, wish I had it today. Love this Belvedere, and I think the price is right where it should be.

    Like 1
  13. Macon Michaux

    This is a cool built out little car. I’m from Goldsboro and some of the guys down there are putting some good skills to work in shops and garages. Nice find. I hope it stays local.

    Like 1
  14. chad

    A same yr Falcon, Dart or Nova would B my choice to try this (smaller). I imagine they’ll loose some money on a $18,500 sale?
    Either that or undervalue their time?
    Nice rig any which way.
    (lota us cant spell)

    Like 1
  15. Dusty

    Having been a cop in those days and also being a muscle car guy …. muscle cars were fun to watch .

  16. steve

    $18,500 for this GIRL?????? Worth WAY MORE than that……..It would be mine if I had the cash

    Like 1

    66 was the first year for the 440 which was more power than the 426 but not the 426 hemi which was an entirely different animal. Depending on which year this 440 this motor is this could be a low horsepower low compression motor which isn’t what you want. No power steering and that little steering wheel you better be Arnold Swartzenager to steer this. Would lose the gloss black on the hood. Nice car and lots to work with but this is not an $18,000 dollar car. There are still lots of these out there with good bodies on them. $10,000 tops

    Like 1
  18. KarlS

    Nothing really mysterious about this build or the use of a more modern engine.. Usually, the transplanted 440 would get “426” scripted valve covers and maybe even a cross ram intake manifold to make the illusion complete. As long as the seller doesn’t try to pass it off as a “Max Wedge” car, no problem, also as long as the price is right.

    Like 1

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