"Barn Find" GTX
Now worth more than the barn
John Gunnell - December 27, 2012 10:00 AM
Looking back on it, Jim Kitzerow laughs when he puts things into a modern perspective.
“The GTX was a real barn find when we bought it and I think half the hay and manure in the barn was inside the car,” he says. “But with the Mopar market getting so strong since then, the car is worth more than the barn is today.”
In 1984, when he purchased his 1970 Plymouth in Missouri, Jim’s friends figured he had lost his marbles. “They thought I was crazy,” he recalled, “Especially since I wasn’t even looking for a GTX. The car was only 14 years old, but it looked 140 years old and Mopars were not worth a lot. Maybe the ’63 or ’64 Max Wedge car I was really looking for was worth a little, but not a GTX.”
One of Kitzerow’s friends spotted the GTX while he was on a business trip to Kansas City. It was sitting on the owner’s lawn with a “For Sale” sign on it. The friend mistook the GTX for an earlier Plymouth and called Jim, telling him, “I found that car you’re looking for.” He didn’t tell Jim that it was hard to say what it was for sure. The GTX had sunk into the mud back when it was just two years old and no one had ever bothered to pull it out and clean it off. Mud, of course, does not preserve things well.
Jim remembers that his wife was sick when his friend called. “I wasn’t going to do anything, at least until she got better,” said Jim. “She asked me why I was not going to look at it and she is the one who insisted I buy it when we did go.” The sellers even delivered the car from Missouri to Naperville, Illinois, where Jim was living at the time. Today, he resides in Eagle River, Wisconsin.
Jim and his son, Kurt, restored most of the Plymouth themselves. “We got a lot of hours into that baby,” he admitted. “Building a show car is easy, but it’s just a matter of spending lots of time and money.”
Jim and Kurt were turning wrenches on the things they could deal with themselves and did most of the grunt work. For the heavy stuff, they turned to specialists for help. The engine in the car today is a 440 that was built up by Koffel’s Place, a well-known Mopar expert. It’s been bored .030 over and fitted with B1 cylinder heads. According to Jim, it now puts out over 550 hp. The 727 TorqueFlite automatic transmission also required a re-work.
For the “serious stuff” — that’s how Jim describes bodywork — the Kitzerows worked out a special deal with Mueller’s Autobody to keep costs affordable. Mueller’s agreed to do the work as a spare time project. “Many thousands of dollars later, it was finished,” Kitzerow figured. “It took about seven years and lots of money, but it was worth it.” Today, Jim feels like he was ahead of the curve in restoring a GTX and he knows that doing the car was a good investment.
The GTX was Plymouth’s answer to the later generation GTO, which Pontiac turned into a kind of luxury muscle car. It was a “top hat” version of the Satellite/Road Runner mid-size series, with a lot more glitz and glamour. While it looked great and put forth a touch of class, the GTX managed to retain a good dose of the “attitude” muscle cars needed for Saturday nights at the drive-in.
The 1970 version of the GTX had a redesigned grille, a new hood and restyled front fenders. It featured much of the same standard equipment as the Road Runner, including heavy-duty suspension, heavy-duty brakes, a dual exhaust system, a high performance hood with the “Air Grabber” hood scoop, front and rear bumper guards, a 150-mph speedometer, F70-14 red or white stripe tires, three-speed wipers, heavy-duty shock absorbers and roof and door moldings.
The GTX came standard with the 440-cid Super Commando V-8 and TorqueFlite automatic transmission. It also had a deluxe vinyl interior, with foam seat padding on its new-for-1970 high-back front bucket seats and rear bench seat. The body sides carried reflective tape stripes and side markers. Other GTX equipment included dual horns, a 70-amp battery and bright exhaust trumpets.
No longer offered in 1970 was a GTX convertible, which had never sold very well anyway. The two-door hardtop was the only remaining body style. It carried a $3,535 window sticker, although most muscle cars went out the door with about another $1,000 in options. The ’70 GTX wound up drawing only 7,748 orders.
That number makes Jim Kitzerow’s Autumn Bronze Metallic GTX a pretty rare beast today. On the inside, the GTX carries a few extra gauges and a non-factory-issued pair of fuzzy dice. On the outside, the car is nearly totally stock, except that ’71 center hubs are bolted to the ’70 Road Wheels. “I like the ’71 style center caps better,” Jim explained. “And it’s my car.”