Junkyard Gem: 1965 Plymouth Belvedere Race Car

I’ve found the occasional retired race car during my junkyard travels, but most of them have been fairly modern machines. Today’s Junkyard Gem is a different sort of racing remnant: an ancient dirt-track beast that probably last saw service more than 40 years ago, found in a Denver-area yard last summer.

It’s really just a gutted shell that sat outdoors for decades after its final competition, but you can still catch glimpses of its past here and there among the rust spots and peeling paint.

The rear quarters clearly identify it as a 1965 Plymouth B-Body two-door sedan.

The 1965 B-Body Plymouths were sold as three models: the upscale Satellite, the mid-level Belvedere II, and the El Cheapo Belvedere I. The shadow of a Belvedere badge on the fender found inside the car indicates that at least the fender came from a Belvedere I (the way race cars — especially those that compete on dirt — whack into each other, we can assume this is the 19th fender affiliated with this car).

Belvedere fenders were easy to find in junkyards until about 40 years ago, and the faded sponsor stickers indicate that this car last raced around that time. You can still buy new “Turbo Action” valve bodies for Chrysler automatic transmissions, by the way.

Likewise, CRC 5-56 lubricant still exists. The “OZONE SAFE” label on the can suggests that this sticker is of late-1970s-to-early-1980s origin.

The roll cage is old-school for sure, particularly the lack of door bars. The Denver area once had many race tracks, including Overland Park and Englewood Speedway (both very close to this Plymouth’s final parking space), but they had closed long before the 1980s. Lakeside Speedway was in business  until 1988 (and still stands today, sort of) but that dirt oval hosted mostly midget races during its final 30 years of operation. Perhaps Colorado Springs International Speedway, which closed in 1985, was this car’s final race venue.

There’s one sponsor that suggests an origin far from the Mountain Time Zone. I can’t make out the company name (other than what might be a snippet including “oluce”), but it appears to be an institutional food business in Houma, Lousiana. It’s possible this car was bought in Louisiana and brought to Front Range Colorado, where it rusted away in a yard or field.

There’s not much left, but it’s one of the many types of automotive history I like to document in this series. One of my all-time favorite road-racing cars is a Belvedere (no, not this one), so I knew this car’s final chapter had to be documented.

There are still some of these cars out there today. Hold my beer, the old Belvedere is running!

If you’re old enough to remember new ’65 Belvederes, you’re old enough to remember filmstrips.

Related video:

Source link