based on early '60's Mopar Logo

March 2004 Mopar of the Month

Building Moparious Maximus — a 1963 Plymouth Belvedere

Larry Sr. writes:  This Plymouth project was born from my son Larry hearing me talk about the good ol' days at the Drag Strip and local High School Drags.

Larry wanted to build his own car for the strip after being involved in the school drags. He had the choice between the 1963 Plymouth and a 1968 Camaro, and I think we are both very glad he picked the Plymouth.

We found the Belvedere on eBay and hauled it from California to Iowa.

The Plymouth ran but was in sad shape.

We got a little carried away with the project. The previous owner had chopped a hole in the floor for a 4 speed, we think using an ax. In starting on the floor we found other things we wanted to do.

The end results show in the pictures.

Of course, I am partly to blame here! I spent a good deal of time watching the original AFX cars run at our local track. I find it hard to think of a better looking drag car than a early Mopar with a straight axle.


Stiffen the unibody on a 1963 Plymouth Belvedere drag racer, Moparious Maximus We did all we could do to stiffen the unibody, while all the time trying to save weight. The only original parts of the frame left are a few inches of the front and rear main frame. The firewall was moved back 10 inches and the engine is back 9 1/2. (Notice when you see the hood, the scoop is setting high because we also raised the engine, changing the center of gravity. We made a riser from fiber glass to fit under a Mopar Max Wedge scoop.)

The axle and the beginnings of all the aluminum we used are visible. The axle was built by us and uses 1985 Jeep springs, Dodge truck spindles, the original steering box and drums. We did have a problem with bump steer but solved that with a dampener on the drag link. The bump steer raised its head at the strip when the car came down kind of hard.

All said and done the car handles very well up to 130 MPH and will stop on a dime.
Axle on a 1963 Plymouth Belvedere drag racer, Moparious Maximus

Interior on a 1963 Plymouth Belvedere drag racer, Moparious Maximus More aluminum work: notice the dash is as simple as can be. It's a weight thing. Anyone trying something like this will tell you weight is very hard to loose. There are no kits available that we could find that would fill our needs so everything is hand made.

Speaking of hand made...No header manufacturer would even talk to us about a set of headers like we wanted.

As tacked and before trimming, the headers looked like shown here.

Notice the bridge work on the frame. We found that the frame would flex to much. I would guess it was related to all the steel we removed!
Engine headers on a 1963 Plymouth Belvedere drag racer, Moparious Maximus

Trunk on a 1963 Plymouth Belvedere drag racer, Moparious Maximus In the trunk area Absolutely all steel was cut out and replaced with .030 aluminum, supported by a light frame.

The rear end is a Dana 60 narrowed some and has Moser 35 spline axils, Spool, 4.56 gears and hangs on a set of Mopar super stock springs.

The traction bars are our own design. They work well: the Maximus comes out of the hole hard and straight.

We have been told over and over to change to a 4 link, but they they didn't have them on any AFX I ever saw.

Yes, we painted the Plymouth ourselves also.

My son made me quit at 4 coats of clear.

Back to a weight thing I guess.
Painting a 1963 Plymouth Belvedere drag racer, Moparious Maximus

Engine in  1963 Plymouth Belvedere drag racer, Moparious Maximus The engine Larry ran in 2003 started with a stock .030 over 440 block. We did hard block the block and strapped the main caps. The heads are Edelbrock that we ported ourselves. Drilled and tapped for water front and back we only cooled the heads. The intake is Edelbrock Victor with a old Holley 1050 on top. Pistons are Speed Pro forged you know the real heavy ones. Stock rods although we did beam polish them. Stock crank. Lunati cam and rollers duration at .050 is 272 intake 268 exhaust lift is 647 intake 627 exhaust Crane rockers.

We made the pan and valley cover. We are running a Powerglide transmission.

This set up has seen 7500 rpm many times and hit 10.34 et at 131 mph.

I should add the weight thing again.

We got the Belvedere down to 2960 pounds with fuel and driver, with very close to a 50-50 split: 1540 pounds front and 1420 pounds rear.

Larry took Maximus and won the nostalgic eliminator at the Slingshot Nationals at Cordova IL.

(We also run the yellow slingshot. The plans are to run a slant 6 in it sometime in the future, if we can find 2 or 3 engines to build with.)
1963 Plymouth Belvedere drag racer, Moparious Maximus

To sum things up, the hood, deck lid, doors, and bumpers are fiberglass. We made the bumpers ourselves. The windows are Lexan. Wheels are Weld Racing and the tires are Hoosier.

We both swear the front fenders are wore thin on top from our leaning on them thinking of the right thing to do next.

The Mopar has been a ton of work, two tons of money and a whole lot of fun!

See Moparious Maximus the Plymouth in action!

April 1, 2004
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