I’ve had several letters recently from readers about collector car values, good and bad investments, how the collector car hobby has changed and especially the auto auctions, where some of the most pristine of muscle cars go for hundreds of thousands of dollars each and every auction.
One recent car that deserves special note is a 1971 Plymouth GTX, complete with the” Elephant” 426 Hemi engine that sold for $253K at the recent Mecum Auction in Dallas, Texas. This GTX proves that even cars made after 1970 that are restored by a professional can produce results that would envy the more popular 1967 to 1970 GTX line of special muscle cars.
In 1971, Plymouth underwent a style change that differed greatly from the earlier GTX models. They made great looking funny cars on the drag strip, but on the street the larger ’71 GTX model was starting to take a major dip in sales. Government clean air mandates were starting to kick and MOPAR’s pony cars, ala the Dodge Challenger and Plymouth Barracuda, were responsible for taking sales away from the full-size GTX style Plymouths.
However, the popularity of the Chrysler pony cars made the 1971 GTX even more rare, especially when a 426/425 horsepower Hemi sat in waiting under the hood. Overall, there were only 19 of the ’71 Hemi GTX models with the automatic ever built, making this specific GTX trim a rare piece of MOPAR muscle car history.
Enter Dave Dudek, of Dave Dudek Muscle Cars in Warren, Michigan. Dudek is a noted collector of some of the world’s most desirable, rare and elusive classic MOPAR cars. He tells this story of the 1971 GTX owner Peter Swainson, from Alberta, Canada, whose collection of cars centered on his lifelong adoration for the vehicles that furnished the dealership his father purchased in 1971; the same one he himself would eventually come to own and operate. Swainson is the president and general manager of Southside Dodge Chrysler Jeep in Alberta.
In communications with this scribe, it is explained that the Swainson GTX underwent a complete ground-up restoration at Dudek’s auto restoration shop. The GTX, along with a 1969 Dodge Daytona, were two of 10 rare MOPARS restored by Dudek and offered for sale by private owner Swainson .
When the gavel hit the auction block at the Mecum Auction, the Dudek restored and Swainson owned ’71 GTX brought the aforementioned $253,000, resulting in bragging rights for the duo. In particular, their GTX muscle car was the highest-selling vehicle of 1,000 American muscle cars, classics, exotics, and hot rods made available over the four-day Mecum Auction.
The 425 Hemi GTX features a bright Citron Yella exterior paint, a popular Chrysler color in 1971. Further, a black interior, Rallye wheels, Goodyear G60-15 Polyglass GT tires, factory N96 Air Grabber hood with hold-down pins, and TorqueFlite automatic make this GTX a special breed.
Swainson is quick to commend Dudek on his professionalism when it comes to restoring cars to 100-percent accuracy.
“Dave has a great sense of quality workmanship, a knowledge and quick study of factory correct finish and appearance,” said Swainson. “Along with a drive to get it right the first time, Dave’s attention to detail made my vehicles stand out above others. His work far exceeded my expectations.”
Dudek, 48, resides in St. Clair Shores, Michigan, and has been restoring classic cars for more than 20 years. Specializing in MOPAR vehicles, his attention to detail, lifetime experiences and passion for the hobby / business make it all possible.
Cars like the ’71 Plymouth GTX are not noted for the best in Plymouth styling when compared to the 1963 to 1970 Max Wedges, 440 Six Packs and 426 Hemis that roamed the boulevards back then. Still, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and this saga proves that any rare, low production number muscle car can be the surprise sales car of the entire auction.
Dave Dudek and Peter Swainson know this first hand. Thanks for sharing what a professionally restored 1971 GTX Hemi can bring, big at today’s major auctions.
(Greg Zyla is a syndicated auto columnist who welcomes reader comments and questions on collector cars, auto nostalgia and old time motorsports at email@example.com or letters at 303 Roosevelt St., Sayre, Pa. 18840.)