By on March 30, 2012


Chuck Grote is a true old school hot rodder. He comes from a world where a group of guys could take a stock Anglia with a sewing machine motor on Friday night and have a hot rod with a big block Buick ready to drive to work on Monday morning.

Maybe it would have a throttle cable snaked through a hole in the firewall, but you had to be able to drive that monster to work. If you couldn’t do that then technically you failed the test.

No excuses.Chuck still lives that way so when he wanted to make the 1958 Imperial 392 hemi in his 48 Plymouth convertible work a little better in the 21st Century, he enlisted the aid of a GM 700 R4 fuel injection system. Now the computer thinks that the old hemi is actually a big block 454 Chevy motor.

That computer is really convinced that Mopar is Chevy because the 48 Plymouth (3300 pounds with aerodynamics like a muddy brick) pulls down an incredible 23 miles per gallon.

Chuck likes a car to drive better than a factory 48 Plymouth. The post war Mopar has rack and pinion steering and equalizer bars for pulling a trailer, but it retains stock upper and lower control arms. Chuck is a firm believer in the old hot rodder “ain’t broke don’t fix it” philosophy. Old school guys like Chuck always made do with what was available at the local auto wreckers for a simple reason – it was cost-effective and it worked.

Chuck is at an age where he losing friends from the “build it on the weekend drive it on Monday” era. He celebrates their mutual past by driving the wheels off this classic post war convertible. He has no problem driving the car thousands of miles throughout the United States. He has covered the distance to and from Louisville Kentucky’s giant NSRA show to Spokane Washington in a few days.

Chuck’s biggest fears on trips? Endless stops to pay 17 cent tolls on highways, and the scary view from behind large semis when you’re trying to switch over six lanes on a freeway to make an exit.

Chuck is very matter of fact about this 48 Plymouth, but the reality is that while a project like that is easy for him it’s a huge accomplishment for us mere mortals.

For more of J Sutherland’s work go to mystarcollectorcar.com


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10 Comments on “Car Collector’s Corner:1948 Plymouth Convertible with a Hemi Heart and a GM Pacemaker...”


  • avatar
    Felis Concolor

    A friend back on the islands had a ’53 New Yorker with the same engine. An amazing ride, especially on blasts from Kahului to Pukalani up the slopes of Haleakala.

    As I can’t imagine Chuck making it work any other way, I feel the sting of converting that vehicle’s 6 volt, positive ground electrical system to 12 volt, negative ground. The New Yorker’s owner continually fought with the desire to keep the system original, even with increasing scarcity of replacement 6V+ parts, or switching the entire system over to 12V-, but figured it would cost the same in the long run, which made the decision to stay original easier.

    That’s an impressive fuel consumption figure, especially for an engine as historically thirsty as Chrysler’s hemi-head designs. Some misguided souls still believe OHV designs are inherently inefficient.

  • avatar
    Mark45

    I thought the GM 700 R4 was a transmission.

  • avatar
    BigOldChryslers

    Nice car and definitely an accomplishment converting it to EFI, but “700R4″ is a GM automatic transmission.

  • avatar
    wstarvingteacher

    This guy is what the Hot Rod nation should be all about. Not old guys polishing a trailer queen.

  • avatar
    noxioux

    700R4 is a GM 4-speed automatic transmission. What we’re probably looking at here is a GM TBI unit off a big block truck. I would think he’s probably running the whole show with a megasquirt or something similar. Not sure what the ignition is, but with the megasquirt it doesn’t much matter.

    Compared to running a full aftermarket throttle body or port injection setup, a couple of junkard parts and a megasquirt is an extremely viable way to add some of these modern advantages to older engines.

    392 Hemis are nice. A high school friend of mine had one in an old dodge pickup. About every third time he’d punch it, it would twist the driveline and spit it out. Actually made it kinda fun to get stranded.

  • avatar

    Sorry gentlemen, that was an error on our part- not TTAC’s. The original copy read “700 R4 transmission as well as a Chevy fuel injection system”. We just didn’t transmit the right copy to inject into this story. Incidentally, Chuck will likely debut a Morris Minor with a blown Chevy monster engine in it this spring. It is a wilder tribute version of his original Morris Minor resto-mod with a Chevy small block that he owned over 50 years ago.


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