THE "SILVER BULLET"
The Meanest, Baddest Street Racer to Ever Hit the Pavement!
On the surface, the "Silver Bullet" was pretty much what it appeared to be -- a much-modified Plymouth Belvedere GTX hardtop that was owned and driven by Jimmy Addison, a quiet, matter-of-fact mechanic who worked at Ted Spehar's Sunoco gas station on Woodward Avenue in Birmingham, Michigan. Being good with a wrench, it was perfectly reasonable to assume that Addison simply had a way with Chrysler products, knowing exactly what to replace or revamp in order to turn a "Mopar" into an all conquering street performer. The fact that he had access to all sorts of exotic racing parts was also plausible because his boss, Ted Spehar, was in the business of building racing engines at his station. Presumably, he sold parts to Addison at wholesale.
But Addison, Spehar and the "Silver Bullet" were much more than that. In truth, they were agents of a high-performance hardware and technology think-tank in Chrysler Corporation's factory racing department in Highland Park, Michigan. The 1967 Belvedere GTX in question was actually a rolling test bed for parts and ideas that originated among an elite group of engineers who had plotted Chrysler's considerable racing success in the 1960s. This innovative group, headed by veteran Bob Cahill, and staffed by the likes of Tom Hoover (who created the 426 Hemi) and Dick Maxwell (a member of the legendary Ramchargers racing team), concluded that winning on the racetrack wasn't enough all by itself to win the respect of young buyers. What the situation called for were stock-looking cars, in the hands of seemingly everyday customers, that were faster on the streeet than anyone else's.
Of course, other carmakers such as Pontiac, Chevrolet and Ford reached the same conclusion. The result was a profusion of factory-backed, street-legal GTOs, Mustangs and Chevelles that on any given evening could be found cruising the Detroit suburbs, looking for action. Chrysler's idea was to counter with a street machine so powerful, so fast, that nothing out there could touch it. The first step was to requisition a well-worn Plymouth Belvedere GTX that had been an engineering test car and sell it to Addison for a dollar.
The "Silver Bullet" then, was a marketing tool as well as an engineering test mule. In Addison's hands, with Chrysler's guidance, it took on a number of lightweight components, such as doors, hood, window glass, front crossmember and bucket seats, that pared 500 pounds off its production weight. The monster 487-cubic-inch Hemi V-8 under the super stock hood scoop was equipped with a 4.25" stroker crankshaft, oversize TRW pistons, Racer Brown camshaft, 10-quart oil pan and aluminum cylinder heads. Fuel was delivered to the twin Holley four-barrel carburetors via a Stewart Warner electric fuel pump, while Hooker headers directed exhaust to the four '68 Cadillac mufflers through 3" pipes. Transfer of power to the M&H drag slicks at the rear was achieved with a modified Torqueflite automatic transmission, while compliant front shock absorbers teamed with super stock rear springs to achieve the desired rearward weight transfer. The "Bullet" in full street trim could cover the quarter mile in 10.50 seconds at a speed of 132 mph. Not bad for a docile-looking Plymouth hardtop!
Today, the "Silver Bullet" is the proud possession of Mr. Harold Sullivan, a Mopar musclecar collector who tracked the car down and restored it from a state of considerable deterioration to its present pristine state. Harold found another GTX and built the "Silver Bullet II". He still races both cars!