Car Collector's Corner:1948 Plymouth Convertible With a Hemi Heart and a GM Pacemaker

J Sutherland
by J Sutherland
car collector s corner 1948 plymouth convertible with a hemi heart and a gm pacemaker

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.

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  • Noxioux Noxioux on Mar 30, 2012

    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.

  • Jim Sutherland Jim Sutherland on Mar 30, 2012

    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.

  • Alan I do believe that traffic infringements penalties based on income will affect those who are financial able to flout safety regulations.When I drive above the posted speed limit I assess my situation using probability. If I'm confronted with a situation where time is of more value to me than speed I will speed if I assess the probability of a fine to be quite low. I can afford the fine, what I can't afford is the loss of points on my drivers licence.In Australia (12 points in QLD and all States have a point system) we have a points system attached to your drivers licence. An open drivers licence is granted 12 points every 3 years. So, if you receive an infringement for exceeding the speed limit it takes 3 years for the points to be removed. I generally get caught once every 2 years.I think a points system would be a fairer system over a system based on income. Its about retaining your licence and safety, not financial gain by the government.As you can see below it wouldn't take long for many US drivers to lose their drivers licence.[h2]Current penalties for individuals caught speeding[/h2]InfringementPenalty amountDemerit pointsLess than 11km/h over the speed limit$287. 1 pointAt least 11km/h but not more than 20km/h over the speed limit$431. 3 pointsMore than 20km/h but not more than 30km/h over the speed limit$646. 4 pointsMore than 30km/h but not more than 40km/h over the speed limit$1,078. 6 pointsMore than 40km/h over the speed limit$1,653. 8 points and 6 month suspension
  • Wjtinfwb Instead of raising fines, why don't the authorities enforce the laws and write tickets, and have judges enforce the penalty or sentence of a crime. I live across the street from an Elementary School on a 4-lane divided state highway. every morning the cop sits in his car and when someone sails through the School Zone well above the 10 mph limit, he merely hits his siren to get their attention but that's it. I've never, in 5 years, seen them get out of the car and actually stop and driver and confront them about speeding. As a result, no one pays attention and when the School Zone light is not lit, traffic flies by at 50-60 mph in the 45 zone. Almost no enforcement occurs until the inevitable crash, last year some zoned out girl rolled her beater Elantra 3 times. On a dry, straight, 4 lane road with a 45 mph limit. I'm no Angel and have a heavy foot myself. I've received my share of speeding tickets, lots of them when younger. Traffic enforcement in most locales has become a joke these days, jacking prices because someone has a higher income in as asinine as our stupid tax policy and non-existent immigration enforcement.
  • Jeff S If AM went away I would listen to FM but since it is insignificant in the cost to the car and in an emergency broadcast it is good to have. I agree with some of the others its another way to collect money with a subscription. AM is most likely to go away in the future but I will use AM as long as its around.
  • BEPLA I think it's cool the way it is.If I had the money, time and space - I'd buy it, clean it up, and just do enough to get it running properly.Then take it to Cars and Coffee and park it next to all the newer Mustangs.
  • Dave M. I suppose Jethro’s farm report comes via AM, but there’s a ton of alternative ways to get that info. Move forward people. Progress is never easy.