The world works in strange ways and time has taught us that sometimes things have a tendency to make a full loop around and land right in your lap. Mark Hemrich found this out with a 1968 Plymouth Satellite he spotted back in 2003 sitting in a carport just minutes up the road from his house. A few years later, the Satellite vanished from the carport. He soon learned that one of his friends had purchased it.
The Satellite was originally a gold-on-gold 318 small block, column shift automatic car equipped with manual drum brakes and power steering. Originally sold new at Johnston Motors in Vancouver BC, the car had stayed in the general area for its entire life. After buying it, his friend decided to paint it black and drive it. A while later, Mark’s friend came upon some hard times and needed a place to store the car. Mark offered to store it for him in the woodshed at his cabin five hours away. His friend jumped on the offer and the car was moved up to the woodshed where it sat for just under two years.
One day back in 2011, Mark got a call from his friend saying he needed to sell the car quick and wanted to give him first crack at it. Curiously, Mark asked how much he wanted and was shocked by the response. We didn’t share the exact price he paid but let’s just say it was well under the value of the car. Mark told his friend the car was worth more and he’d be fully willing to pay him the full value of the car but his friend declined and said the price he originally said was what he would sell it to Mark for and didn’t want a penny more.
Without hesitation, Mark jumped on the deal and purchased the car. Shortly after, he pulled the Satellite out of the woodshed and drove it back home and went to work on it. The original 318 was long gone with a tired 440 in its place, and while it was more than plenty for some, it just wouldn’t cut it for what Mark had in mind. It wasn’t long before he pulled it out and decided it needed something a little bigger with a lot more get up and go.
The simple yet effective combo Mark has been running in the Satellite is based on a 440 block that has been stroked out to 493 cubic inches. The engine has been fitted with a .570-lift roller cam, Eagle rods, Ross pistons and 1.6 ratio roller rockers. On top, he went for a pair of ported Edelbrock 84cc heads. To give the Satellite some go-fast juice, Mark decided to bottle feed the engine some laughing gas using a full Zex nitrous kit jetted for a 300 hp boost.
At the time we photographed the car, supplying the air was a Mopar Performance M1 intake manifold topped with a Quick Fuel 780 cfm carb. Mark tried numerous different carburetor setups on the car with everything from a Performer RPM intake/Demon 850 cfm carb combo to an Edelbrock dual-four setup. After the photos were taken, he bought and installed a tunnel ram setup running dual Holley carbs.
To help the mighty big block get the fuel it desires, Mark installed two Carter electric fuel pumps and then cut open the fuel tank and added baffles inside. Everything is controlled by a MSD distributor and ignition box. The engine is cooled through an OEM radiator fitted with dual electric fans. Exhaust exits through a set of Hooker Super Comp ceramic-coated long tube headers and dual 2.5-inch pipes via an X-pipe and Flowmaster 50 series mufflers. The monster 493ci big block is then mated to a TorqueFlite 727 transmission that’s been fitted with a 3400 rpm converter and a bolt-in rear sprag.
Hooking up 493ci of big-block Mopar is no easy feat, but Mark’s setup works well. As with the rest of the car, he kept the chassis simple while maintaining stock appearance. The Satellite is equipped with an 8 3/4-inch rear end running 3:91 gears with an Auburn locker and an adjustable pinion snubber. The car has been upgraded to power front disc brakes. Mark installed new 1-inch front torsion bars, poly urethane bushings, Edelbrock IAS shocks on all four corners, Superstock rear leaf springs and a pair of Moroso Slide-a-links. To stiffen up the chassis and for added safety, he also installed a pair of Hotchkis sub-frame connectors and a driveshaft safety loop.
To plant all of that horsepower to the ground, Mark went for some BF Goodrich Radial T/A 275/60R15 Street Radial tires wrapped around US Mags five-spoke gun metal wheels. On the front, he’s running a 255/60R15 tire.
On the inside of the car, Mark decided to stay completely factory stock with it and the original gold interior was replaced with brand new black pieces. Added for good measure is a period-correct 8 track player. (We can confirm that Mark has a good sized collection of 8 track tapes that he plays in rotation!) The only other addition to the interior is the bright red nitrous switch mounted on the bottom of the dash.
Car guys being car guys, we’re never fully satisfied with the power of our cars. Mark says after taking a 2015 Hellcat Charger for a ride, he decided he needed something with a little more power. Deciding not to spend $85,000 on the Hellcat, he came up with the idea of why not make the Satellite faster than a Hellcat for a lot less money! That being said, it wasn’t long before Mark pulled the car into his garage and quickly tore the 493 out of the engine bay to make room for a bigger, badder 440 Source kit 540 cubic inch stroker!
As of this writing, the engine is currently out at the machine shop and Mark is working on getting all the pieces for his new Hellcat-killer together. Just the other day, he spent hours fully polishing his tunnel ram set-up and mounting a pair of dual Edelbrock 750-cfm carbs on top! This setup combined with the Zex nitrous kit will be scary fast!