1970 Plymouth Products: Through The Eyes Of A Returning Soldier

Gary had served two tours in Vietnam during the late 1960s.  He was a crew chief and a door gunner in a helicopter unit for his entire stint in the war.  Truly harrowing and heroic stuff.  For those three years, he saved his military pay, hazard pay, and combat pay.  Then, a few months prior to his discharge, while at the P.X., he saw this advertisement for the brand new 1970 Plymouth linup of cars. 

The ad sells, and re-sells the idea of racing, performance, brute power, optional track equipment, and speed.  After all, 1970 was the pinnacle of the muscle era – huge engines in mid-sized cars.  Nothing too fancy inside or out, except that drivetrain. 

He mentioned to me that he sort of wishes that he wouldn’t have written on the ad, but I think it’s even cooler with his scratching.  It’s like looking through a little tiny time machine.  He noted the military discount pricing for each model and made a note, “No bucket seats!”  Any of the cars pictured here are now worth at least ten times what Gary would have paid.

He ended up ordering the GTX.  He specified a 426 Hemi, a 4 speed, and a bench seat.  Why a bench seat?  Because his wife didn’t like buckets.  She probably missed him while he was gone and wanted to sit next to him upon his return. 

The car was supposed to be waiting for him at the docks when he returned stateside.  Alas, it was not.  Some story, some delay, had prevented his reward for all that hard work overseas from greeting him.  A three month delay would await him if he decided to go through with the special order.  However, they did have another option for him, at a much lower price.  The salesman handed him the keys, told him to drive it up and down the docks, then decide.  He did, and he was sold, and he saved $1400.  

What was the option?  A 1970 Datsun 240Z – with bucket seats.  He ended up keeping the 240Z for 12 years and putting 140,000 miles on it. 

Sure would have been nice to have that Hemi though…


Scott Ith is an Associate Editor with Hooniverse.com, but he also contributes to his own site NeedThatCar.com.  Head over there for more hooniganism.

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17 responses to “1970 Plymouth Products: Through The Eyes Of A Returning Soldier”

  1. Alcology Avatar

    Scat pack? That's a cool little glimpse into history there, almost especially because of gary's notes

    1. Batshitbox Avatar

      Any mention of "Scat Pack" always makes me giggle. I can't find a good reason why they called it that, it seems to be just pure adspeak. I have heard people use the phrase, "It's got scat!" to mean a motor vehicle is capable of surprising acceleration. A g**gl books search turns up at least one reference, in a 1951 issue of Popular Science. Oddly enough, they were talking about a Henry J.
      Another search returned the surprising expansion of "The Scat Pack" into highly sought after "Scat Packages". Gross.

  2. IronBallsMcG Avatar

    Pretty damn cool story. Thanks.

  3. alex Avatar

    What a great story. Thanks

  4. OA5599 Avatar

    Nitpick: the headline is a little misleading. The GTX is indeed a Plymouth, but the Coronet R/T and Super Bee in the second picture are Dodges.

  5. dukeisduke Avatar

    I can remember seeing the Air Grabber hoods at the auto show when I was a kid. I was awestruck.

  6. skitter Avatar

    While not wanting to disparage the 240Z (which I like) that might be an even worse bait and switch from a 426 Hemi GTX than from Antarctic Blue Sportwagon to Family Truckster. It's just not even close to the same car.
    Edit: Obviously, 'You think you hate it now, just wait until you drive it,' wasn't true there.

  7. Slow_Joe_Crow Avatar

    It seems this was common behavior, about 10-15 years ago I read the memoirs of an observation helicopter pilot in Vietnam and his first on returning to the US (after recovering from a very bad crash) was to buy a Porsche 911 in Manhattan and head up the Taconic Parkway at high speed.
    Also I agree that the period scribbles add to the historic value of these brochures, even if would lower the auction price.

    1. Vairship Avatar

      It's still common behavior: many returning service members buy corporal killers high horsepower sports bikes. Addiction to adrenalin is a tough habit to kick.

  8. MVEilenstein Avatar

    Shame he didn't get the GTX, because that would have been my choice, too.
    Consequently, his wife didn't get that bench seat, did she?

  9. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

    I can't dream of beating or even equalling this post. Not only was I born in '81 thus avoiding any involvement in hideous military atrocities, and thus I have no stories anywhere near that magnitude; but I also don't have a '70 Chrysler brochure.

  10. Van_Sarockin Avatar

    240Z, FTW.

  11. VolvoNut Avatar

    So a 1970 240Z could be had for $1761? ($3161-$1400)
    Someone check my math.
    Excellent post, too.
    A short reminder that these hunks of steel can sometime be so much more than just a way to get to work and make grocery runs.

  12. schigleymischke Avatar

    Gary, thank you for your service. Glad you made it home. God bless you and your brothers and sisters in uniform.

  13. dculberson Avatar

    He wanted a bench seat because
    Stick shifts and safety belts
    Bucket seats have all got to go
    When we're driving in the car
    It makes my baby seem so far

  14. Number_Six Avatar

    Amazing. Glad he made it back to enjoy a great car, hemi or not.

  15. Oscar Scher Avatar

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