1966 Plymouth Belvedere is the Perfect Sleeper, Hiding Little Surprise Under the Hood

When it comes to iconic muscle cars from the golden era of Plymouth, models like the Barracuda, Road Runner, and the GTX often come to mind. However, the Belvedere and the Satellite, though often overlooked, are equally cool and possess their own unique charm. In fact, these models can make for even more impressive sleepers when they sport plain colors and are equipped with the powerful 426 HEMI V8 engine under the hood. In this article, we will explore the fascinating characteristics of the 1966 Plymouth Belvedere, a true classic that combines understated aesthetics with extraordinary performance.

The Mighty HEMI V8

The 1966 Plymouth Belvedere, despite being considered the entry-level model, was not left behind when it came to power. It featured the muscular 426-cubic-inch (7.0-liter) HEMI V8 engine, which was renowned for its remarkable performance and capability. While the Belvedere made its debut in the muscle car market as early as 1962, it was in 1966 that it received the powerful HEMI engine, instantly elevating its status among automotive enthusiasts.

Rarity and Desirability

During its release year in 1966, the HEMI-powered Belvedere was not widely popular, with only around 700 units sold. Fast forward to 2022, and these cars have become increasingly rare and highly sought after, particularly in their original, unrestored condition. Locating low-mileage, untouched examples like the one we will discuss later in this article can be a challenging task. Mark O’Malia, however, was fortunate enough to acquire one of these remarkable classics.

A Remarkable Survivor

Spotted by Lou Costabile at the Carlisle Events in 2022, the 1966 Belvedere II Hardtop that Mark O’Malia owns is a testament to automotive preservation. Out of the 531 HEMI V8-equipped Belvedere models produced in that year, this particular example stands out due to its exceptional condition and unbelievably low odometer reading. With only 23,776 miles (38,264 km) on the clock, this all-original survivor has never undergone restoration and has been meticulously maintained throughout its life.

A History of Careful Ownership

The astonishingly low mileage on this Belvedere can be attributed to the careful ownership it has experienced since its inception. According to Mark, the first owner drove the car for a mere 16,000 miles (25,750 km) until 1973. The subsequent owner enjoyed it even less, adding only 7,000 miles (11,265 km) over a span of 38 years. This limited road usage has played a crucial role in preserving the car’s originality and overall condition.

The Sleeper’s Appearance

At first glance, the white exterior and black interior with a front bench may not exude the aggressive nature associated with muscle cars. However, the real surprise lies beneath the surface. The 426 HEMI engine hidden under the hood awakens with a mighty roar, channeling an impressive 425 horsepower to the rear wheels. This transforms the unassuming Belvedere into a formidable force on the road, far from your average Sunday cruiser.

The Rarity of the Configuration

The power from the HEMI V8 engine is transmitted to the rear axle through a three-speed automatic transmission. This particular configuration, with the combination of engine and transmission, makes the production numbers incredibly limited, with only 251 units produced. Considering the passing of time, the number of surviving Belvederes with this specific setup is estimated to be fewer than 20. Hence, this HEMI Belvedere II not only represents a remarkable sleeper and survivor but also holds significant value as a six-figure collectible.

Noteworthy Features

In addition to its exceptional performance and rarity, the 1966 HEMI Belvedere boasts several notable features. One such characteristic is the presence of blue line tires, a distinctive attribute exclusive to this particular model year. Spotting these tires on other Plymouths from different model years is highly unlikely, unless they have been added as aftermarket modifications. The blue line tires further enhance the uniqueness and appeal of this remarkable classic.

Did you also notice the blue line tires? That’s a one-year-only feature, so you won’t see it on Plymouths from different model years unless it’s an aftermarket add-on. Anyway, hit the play button below to take a walk around what has to be the finest 1966 HEMI Belvedere survivor out there.

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