1962 to 1965 Mopar Web site logo, based on early '60's Mopar Logo

1965 Plymouth Satellite

Works in Progress

Art writes: A lot of things that happen in life hinge on lucky coincidences and this is one of them.

I’ve liked Mopars, especially convertibles, since buying my first slant six ’66 Dodge Dart 270 for $400 back in High School. Through those early years I bought them and thrashed them all pretty hard before selling them again. After the Dart, I owned a ’71 Challenger (440/auto) convert, then switched to a ’68 Sport Fury convert (383/auto), then a ’67 Satellite convert (318/auto). The decrease in engine size had a lot to do with my shrinking budget through the lean years around 1989 to 1995.

Then I went through a “dry spell” and owned no Mopars.

Around 2001 I talked with my new wife about getting into the Mopar hobby again. She felt it sounded like fun and we agreed on a budget. I was lucky enough to find a beautiful original 1967 Satellite w/factory 383/column auto convertible for sale, and the asking price fit our finances. That got things started again and led to me finding this 1965 Plymouth Satellite.

In the summer of 2005 a friend who learned of my renewed interest in Mopars told me his grandfather used to work for Chrysler and still tinkered with them. I asked if I could drop by and visit him and my friend said “Sure” and gave me his address.

I took the ’67 Satellite for the trip but it turns out his granddad wasn’t home. Coincidentally his neighbor across the street saw the ’67 parked out front and came out to talk. He asked me a lot of questions about it. He said he was actually a Ford guy, and coincidentally had just bought a ’65 Satellite from a relative. He was going to pick up the car in Boston, MA later that fall and was glad to talk to someone like me who could give him some pointers about Mopars.

Fast-forward to this last spring and I get a phone call from my friend. He asked me if I remembered talking to his grandpa’s neighbor about his 1965 Satellite. I said “Sure how’s he doing with it?” My friend said he had decided to sell it, but had coincidentally remembered my love for Satellites and he wanted to offer it to me before putting it up for sale. All he wanted for it was what he bought it for.

How lucky can a Satellite-lover get?

This is what I found about the Mopar: 1965 Plymouth Satellite hardtop, 361/2bbl, 727 automatic driving a 2.76 rear end, 117,000 miles (apparently). Options include: Air conditioning, power windows, dash clock, vinyl roof, tinted windows, bumper guards, plus a bunch more minor ones you can read on window sticker that came with the car. 1965 Plymouth Satellite driver side front

1965 Plymouth Satellite window sticker The Plymouth listed for $3,957.85 although the dealer invoice that came with the car showed someone knocked it down to $3,875.00. That was a lot of money back then!

My wife agreed it sounded like a nice car. We now have two toddler boys and she said she’d prefer to travel with them in a hardtop with A/C. The power windows were a plus too, so I grabbed a fistful of cash and drove down to make a deal.

1965 Plymouth Satellite passenger side front and 1967 Satellite 1965 Plymouth Satellite rear
1965 Plymouth Satellite driver side interior 1965 Plymouth Satellite interior
The bad:
- A few dents in each lower rear QP.
- Front pass side bumper has a small hit.
- Rust-through in trunk lid and trunk floor pan.
- A lotta surface corrosion from sitting in a Boston garage for 15 years.
- Normal wear and tear on the interior, cracked vinyl console lid, minor
tear in headliner.
The good:
- Haven't found any hidden rust.
- Only a few minor bubbles in vinyl roof.
- The suspension and steering are beautifully tight.
- The seller gave me a 4bbl manifold, plus an AVS carb with the car.
- The A/C and two power windows are the only things that don't work.
- Everything is there, trim, lenses, accessories, including the original
hubcaps - undented. - I found the customer order form, dealer invoice,
window sticker, broadcast sheet and more in the glovebox.

The plan is to first get the exterior restored. This will mean removing all trim, engine and firewall accessories, getting the sheetmetal straightened and trunk pan replaced. Repaint, then rechrome and buff or replace all trim. (With a house, jobs and two boys to keep us busy, we’ll have to take our time). We'll keep the vinyl roof as-is for now.

After the exterior is done the plan is to get into the engine a bit, rebuild the A/C and make it a good highway car with front and rear sway bars, plus dual-circuit brakes and front discs.

After that's done we’ll do what's needed to the interior.

I have my pit crew ready
for the restoration, too!
1965 Plymouth Satellite driver side pit crew
1965 Plymouth Satellite driver side pit crew 1965 Plymouth Satellite driver side pit crew

Project Update 2009

I was recently contacted by another 1965 Satellite owner (Dennis Nagel) who saw the my Web page on this web site Dennis asked how things were going with our restoration, and we shared a few emails this past month. Dennis and his wife own a beautiful teal-colored Satellite which they have kept since his wife bought it before they met! He shared a few tips with me relating to my plans for various upgrades.

So, our emails motivated me to write with this update on our progress to date.

Let’s title this “Remember: Plans Change”

After some further thinking and logistical planning, we decided to restore the engine, drivetrain underside and engine compartment FIRST — the opposite of the way I was thinking back in 2006. After these areas are done, then we'll tackle the exterior body— dents and a bit of rust. We'll do the interior last.

So things got underway — 

After an initial round of trim removal, the first task was to check how and where the car would be placed in our limited garage space before she would be immobilized for the duration....

We decided it couldn’t take up both garage spaces, and with this decision came the acknowledgment that progress would be slower than ... well, than if we had more room.

Below is the basic position the Satellite has remained in since Spring 2007. Disassembly began in earnest once she was up on the jack stands

1965 Plymouth Satellite driver side 1965 Plymouth Satellite rear view
1965 Plymouth Satellite driver side 1965 Plymouth Satellite front

An early logistical decision was whether to pull just the engine/tranny out the top, or to drop down the entire engine K-frame and front suspension. Well, there’s only one way to maximize access to the engine bay when the car is limited to one garage bay  s so we dropped the K-frame and assembly as one....what fun!

At this time I read a good step-by-step guide to a typical Mopar restoration (Project Charger by Larry Lyles). The author emphasized the importance of record-keeping in both written and photographic form. With this firmly in mind, the disassembly continued.

Everything removed was photographed before and after, with dated written notes about condition, paint colors, fastener sizes, sequence, etc.

Parts and fasteners were bagged and tagged with dates and contents. Assemblies were typically organized in milk crates.

1965 Plymouth Satellite engine removal 1965 Plymouth Satellite engine
1965 Plymouth Satellite engine and front suspension removed 1965 Plymouth Satellite engine

It took about two months of piecemeal work before we were ready to drop the engine/tranny/K-frame onto a homemade rolling cradle.

Before we would take the 361 engine to the machine shop it was stripped of all accessories, thoroughly cleaned, then manifold, oil pan and heads removed for a visual inspection.

The engine went to the machine shop in November 2007 for a rebuild with .010 overbore, a mild cam and increased compression. The transmission was sent out for rebuild too.

Shown here (below right) is engine arriving back in December 2007 with a 9.4:1 compression.

1965 Plymouth Satellite engine 1965 Plymouth Satellite rebuilt engine
1965 Plymouth Satellite engine bay 1965 Plymouth Satellite driver side -engine and suspension removed

With the engine assembly out, I cleaned the entire engine bay with “GoJo” hand cleaner. Good results. The left side is done in the photo above.

Vacations and other obligations interrupted summer work, plus the removal of console cables and a decision to overhaul the A/C system brought about the need to disassemble a good part of the interior.

1965 Plymouth Satellite floorboards 1965 Plymouth Satellite water pump
1965 Plymouth Satellite water pump rebuilt 1965 Plymouth Satellite rebuilt engine

In the winter of 2007-2008, less time was spent in the cold garage, and shifted more to restoring the various subassemblies; dismantling parts, sandblasting, repainting, reassembly and back onto the engine, or into a box waiting to go back on the car.

2008 saw the renovation of our kitchen and dining room, so work on the Satellite remained focussed on the subassemblies: Various engine items, front suspension components, brakes.

1965 Plymouth Satellite rebuilt front suspension 1965 Plymouth Satellite rebuilt suspension
1965 Plymouth Satellite engine accessories I remain pleased with the results and steady, if small, progress....

Thanks to encouragement from people like Dennis, I hope 2009 will offer more time to work on the “big stuff”!

Contact Art at Contact owner of 1965 Plymouth Satellite

December 2013: View the Completed Restoration!

Thanks Art!

Great project and the cards were right for you! Have fun with the restoration!

RE: Update: “Remember: Plans Change” is a good point! Being flexible is important. Your story also reminds me of “one thing leads to another” when restoring a Mopar.

Keep plugging away as you are making good progress!

RE: December 2013: Congratulations on seeing the restoration to completion!

November 7, 2006; revised March 15, 2009; December 1, 2013

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