An A990 Unique in Many Ways

Muscle Car Review - - Contents - By Tim Costello

An A990 unique in many ways

In late 1964, as the new 1965 cars be­gan to roll off the assem­bly line, Chrysler’s Detroit Lynch Road Assem­bly Plant be­came a hot­bed of per­for­mance. A spe­cial A990 ver­sion of the Race Hemi was avail­able in ei­ther the new Dodge Coro­net or Ply­mouth Belvedere. The engine re­tained the 12.5:1 com­pres­sion ra­tio and 425hp out­put rat­ing from its in­tro­duc­tion the year be­fore, but it ben­e­fit­ted from sev­eral in­ter­nal im­prove­ments, in­clud­ing a re­designed solid-lifter cam, alu­minum cylin­der heads, and a mag­ne­sium in­take man­i­fold. The bod­ies re­ceiv­ing these en­gines had thin-gauge steel com­po­nents and light­weight Corn­ing glass in the doors, rear-quar­ters, and back­light. To qual­ify for the NHRA’s Su­per Stock classes, 100 units of each had to be built. Lynch Road turned out 101 Dodges and 102 Ply­mouths.

On that first day of pro­duc­tion, this Ply­mouth Belvedere A990 was the fifth car to roll off the line and the only one painted in DD1 medium blue metal­lic. It was shipped to Klip­stein Mo­tor Sales in Cheyenne, Wy­oming, where a Lowell Howard Jr. from Gree­ley, Colorado, took pos­ses­sion. Within a year of own­er­ship, he de­cided to put the car up for sale.

Woody Walcher, a well-known USAC racer, pur­chased it. When he first brought it home he made a cou­ple of passes at the dragstrip, but he had other plans for it. In 1967, the car was en­tered in the Pikes Peak Hill Climb in Colorado. The Hemi was warmed over at this point, and a sin­gle-four-bar­rel car­bu­re­tor was in­stalled per the rule book. He added a bolt-in cage and was ready to go rac­ing.

Can you im­age run­ning this car all-out up the moun­tain? Back then it was 12.4 miles of un­paved road, wind­ing through 156 turns and climb­ing 4,720 feet, and Woody did it on bias-ply tires! Even though the Belvedere spun out on the way up, it placed Third in class that first year. Woody en­joyed the race so much that he kept en­ter­ing, and re­ceived a Fourth in 1968 and Fifth in 1969.

Woody had so much fun at Pikes Peak that he de­cided to run the car at the Bon­neville Salt Flats in 1967. He did OK, but he still wanted it to per­form bet­ter. He tried var­i­ous in­takes, in­clud­ing a Hil­born in­jec­tion unit, but it didn’t change the car that much. Af­ter his taste of Bon­neville, he got a call to come to the Mint 400 desert race in Las Ve­gas. Need­less to say, af­ter a few miles in the race, he de­cided that it just wasn’t right for the Ply­mouth.

In 1970, Woody was ready for a new car. Stan Fehr of Eureka, Illi­nois, was in­ter­ested in go­ing drag rac­ing. He pur­chased the old Ply­mouth for $1,200 as a roller. Where once a mighty Hemi lived, Stan placed a 383 with a two-bar­rel car­bu­re­tor and backed

“Can you im­age run­ning this car all-out

up the moun­tain?”

it up with a Joe Lib­erty four-speed. Out back the 8¾ rearend was stuffed with 5.57 gears to mo­ti­vate the Ply­mouth down the eighth-mile. He nick­named the car You’re in a Heap of Trou­ble, and this com­bi­na­tion was very suc­cess­ful. He set the AHRA S-F3 World Record with it at Keokuk, Iowa, in 1972.

The car left Stan’s hands, and from what we can tell it was passed from owner to owner un­til Walt Red­mond spot­ted it in a clas­si­fied ad in the spring of 1983. The ad­ver­tise­ment read “Light weight 1965 Ply­mouth in De­catur, Illi­nois, $3600.”

Walt was a for­mer broad­cast pro­gram­mer at the Lynch Road Assem­bly Plant in Detroit but had re­lo­cated to Granada Hills, Cal­i­for­nia. He knew quite a bit about these cars and even had a prod­uct plan­ning doc­u­ment show­ing how they were to be as­sem­bled com­pared to a nor­mal Belvedere. From the first time he saw one of these cars in the 1960s he had wanted one.

Walt started col­lect­ing A990 pieces in about 1968, and it al­most be­came an ob­ses­sion with him. Within a few years he had N.O.S. carbs and an in­take man­i­fold, and a set of Bart Kenyon cylin­der heads. By the mid 1970s, he had the A990’s dis­tinc­tive ex­haust man­i­folds/head­ers and the com­plete ex­haust sys­tem, but find­ing a clean, un­cut car was chal­leng­ing.

Upon see­ing the ad, Walt called the owner and asked for more in­for­ma­tion about the car. He asked him to read the num­bers off the VIN tag: R051, which de­noted a Belvedere Su­per Stock car; 82 for Race Hemi; and 5 for the TorqueFlite. Walt also learned that the all-im­por­tant Corn­ing glass was still in the old Ply­mouth. Other than the orig­i­nal driv­e­train, the car was fairly in­tact.

Walt tried to con­tain his ex­cite­ment and sent a few hun­dred bucks by West­ern Union to the owner. He sent his brother Bruce, who lived in Ohio, to go out and see the car. Upon ar­riv­ing, Bruce con­firmed it and told Walt the good news. It was the real deal, so Walt flew back to Ohio and bor­rowed Bruce’s 1969 440 Road Run­ner with a trailer to pick it up.

Af­ter get­ting it back to his brother’s, they went over it thor­oughly. The car had been con­verted to a stick, and the orig­i­nal 8¾ rear had been re­placed with a Dana

60. Once back in Cal­i­for­nia, Walt started buy­ing Ply­mouth-spe­cific parts to re­store the car. His col­lec­tion of N.O.S. parts be­came huge.

Over the years, Walt struck up a friend­ship with Scott Tie­mann of Su­per­car Spe­cial­ties. Scott has been re­spon­si­ble for restor­ing some amaz­ing cars—not only pretty cars, but fast as well. An­other of Scott’s clients is Rick Ma­honey, who owns quite a few cars that have com­peted in the Fac­tory Ap­pear­ing Stock Tire (FAST) and Pure Stock Drag Races. Scott in­tro­duced Walt to Rick, and a friend­ship was made. Walt re­al­ized that the car de­served a first-class restora­tion, and since he was re­tired, this most likely wasn’t in his bud­get. So he gave Rick the op­por­tu­nity to pur­chase the car. The deal was struck, and the mother lode of N.O.S. pieces was de­liv­ered to Su­per­car Spe­cial­ties. The best pieces were se­lected for the car and the rest were sold off.

When Walt was look­ing for a car to re­store, he tried his hard­est to find one that had not been tubbed. While this car had never been, when it ar­rived at Scott’s shop they re­al­ized Bon­neville’s salt had not been kind to the in­ner fend­ers. So some pieces of the floor pan and both rear wheel­houses were re­paired. The car does not use any re­pro­duc­tion pieces, as every­thing that was placed on the car was ei­ther N.O.S. or an orig­i­nal part that was freshly re­stored. Scott es­ti­mates spend­ing 3,500 hours in get­ting the old Ply­mouth back in line (a process we de­scribed in de­tail in “Su­per Restora­tion,” Apr. 2015). The body lines are far crisper than when it left the fac­tory, but that’s the kind of restora­tion that Su­per­car Spe­cial­ties cre­ates.

It took about a year in half from when the Su­per­car Spe­cial­ties crew started to when the Ply­mouth was un­veiled at the Detroit Au­torama in 2014. The crowd loved it! If you would like to check the car out for your­self, it will be on dis­play at the 2018 Mus­cle Car and Corvette Na­tion­als in Novem­ber.

n NRHA Su­per Stock rules re­quired run­ning a muf­fler, so Chrysler fabbed a sin­gle cross-mounted unit right un­der the bumper. At the track, the header’s col­lec­tor dumps were un­corked, but the ex­haust sys­tem re­mained on the car.

n In 1969 the car was re­painted when Woody re­ceived a new spon­sor. This photo was taken on one of the last days he had the car.Shortly af­ter buy­ing the Belvedere, Stan Fehr put a lace paint job on the car like so many rac­ers did in the 1970s. The now drag car was let­tered with its name, You’re in a Heap of Trou­ble, within weeks of this photo be­ing taken.

n When Woody de­cided he want to see what the Ply­mouth could do at Bon­neville, he flat-towed it there be­hind a 427-pow­ered Caprice. These guys were tough!The Petersen Pub­lish­ing photo archive turned up this pic­ture of Woody at Bon­neville in 1967 shot by Eric Rick­man. The salt didn’t do the car’s sheetmetal any fa­vors.

n Woody Walcher is seen here slid­ing the Belvedere up Pikes Peak in 1967. Even though the car had a mi­nor off-track ride, he still fin­ished Third in class.

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