For Al Caponigro of South Carolina, his love for Mopars goes way back to 1968. “I was 13 when I started driving my dad’s ’64 Plymouth Belvedere with a 318 Poly up and down in front of our house. Then my older brother bought his first car in 1970. It was a ’64 Plymouth Sport Fury with a 413 Wedge. After my first ride in that, listening to that big motor coming to life when he mashed the pedal to the floor was all it took.”
After his graduation in 1973, Al bought his first Mopar at the age of 17; a gold 1967 Plymouth GTX. “I’ve always liked 1967 GTX’s since they originally came out. I absolutely love the lines. My first one was all original with a 440 and console shift automatic. As most of us did back in the day, I started to hop up the motor with go fast goodies. I street raced it for a few years then started strictly racing it at the drag strip. I will say though, I never lost on the street,” shares Al.
Shortly after buying his GTX, Al started working for a Chrysler/Plymouth dealer called Island Auto in Scranton, Pennsylvania and says all the new parts he needed for his GTX were just a short walk to the parts department away. After a few years of street and bracket racing at numerous raceways, he sold the GTX in 1980 and started a business, got married and bought a house.
Around 1990, Al got the Mopar itch again. He says, “I always missed that car. One day, my wife Colleen bought me a Mopar Magazine and the Mopar juices started flowing the minute I started looking through the pages. However, the prices of original or restored cars was quite a shock compared to what I was used to when I bought my original one.” He knew he had to get another GTX though, so the hunt was on. In 1992, Al came across an all original 1967 GTX located in Michigan in the Hemmings Motor News print. The GTX ran but was showing its age and needed a total restoration. “I negotiated the price and a delivery fee to bring it to my home in Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania. I had originally planned to restore it to look like my first one. This meant changing the original coded 881 Blue paint to ZZ1 Gold like my first one; adding a black vinyl roof and a set of Cragar mags. It was going to be an identical twin,” says Al.
However, once Al started researching and decoding the car, his plans changed. “After some conversations with Galen Govier and Roger Gibson regarding the GTX, I decided to restore it to the original specifications since all of the numbers and date coded parts were there. It was just too cool of a car to mess with,” recalls Al. From the factory, the GTX came equipped with a 440 Super Commando engine, 727 automatic transmission, center console, black bucket seat interior, road wheels, red line tires, fender mounted turn signals, electric clock, rear speaker, rear defogger, power steering, manual drum brakes and a Suregrip rear end with 3:23 gears. “I researched the cars history and found the original owner. He was from Iowa and in the Army. He told me that he got home from Vietnam on a Wednesday, bought the GTX brand new on Friday and then got married on Saturday! He was nice enough to send me some photos of the car in his wedding. I was also able to track down and talk to the other 3 past owners and have copy of all the titles,” says Al.
Once the decision was made, the parts collecting started. Over the years, the GTX had met the rust monster and needed some rust repair however the car wasn’t too bad overall. Al found two used rust free quarter panels in Texas and had then shipped up to replace the original crusty ones. Since the driver side floor pan was rusted as well, Al had a new one installed. Once the metal and body work was complete, the car was shot in a coat of primer before being given a brand new shiny coat of code 881 Bright Blue Poly Paint just as the fender tag dictated.
With the body ready for reassembly, the 440 Super Commando engine and 727 automatic transmission were rebuilt to stock specifications. On the inside, the interior was completely restored using original parts as well as brand new Legendary parts such as the front seat covers and headliner. The rear seat is the original one and shines just as well as it did when the car rolled off the assembly line! Al tells us, “The car spent a year in the body shop. Once I got it back, it took me about 3 months to put everything back together. It was complete by the end of 1993.”
From the moment it was completed, the GTX was a show stopper, being featured in the ‘Mopar Collectors Guide’ print in February 1994 and in the ‘Hi Performance Mopar’ print in March 1994. Al says, “The GTX was even judged in the very first CSO; Carlisle Standard of Originality. It was judged by Roger Gibson, Frank Badalson, Galen Govier and some of the other top Mopar guys in the country at that time. It did very well being my first restoration and I learned an awful lot from those guys. The car was also on display inside Carlisle Building “T” in 1997 for the 30 year anniversary.”
Al’s GTX has taken home a slew of awards over the years such as 1st place at Carlisle in the ‘1967 B Body Stock’ class in both 1999 and 2001, 1st place in its class at the Mopar Atlantic Nationals in Englishtown New Jersey as well as Best of Show in both 1999 and 2001 as that show. Al finishes by saying, “I do not show it much these days but have taken home a few more 1st place prizes here and there. Mainly I just enjoy driving it like it was meant to be driven.”