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It had to have been around 1966. And if I’m a bit unclear, please understand that the gap between then and now is almost 60 years – three full generations forgawdsake. My mom and dad were considering a new car, and their search took them to a Chrysler/Dodge/Plymouth store, just west of Omaha in Elkhorn, Nebraska. While they looked at something with a little chrome and four doors, the owner’s son – and this was very much a one-man showroom – took me down the road in his Hemi-equipped Plymouth. Few things from the mid-sixties have stuck with me like the ride in that Plymouth, and while my folks opted – predictably – for a little chrome and four doors, I’m still emotionally attached to Chrysler’s idea of a big block (our ’06 Grand Cherokee has a Hemi!) and those cars having one under the hood. 

If you’re wanting to jolt your Mopar memories (without your daily dose of Prevagen), few publications are better equipped to help than THE COMPLETE BOOK OF DODGE AND PLYMOUTH MUSCLE CARS: Every Model from 1960 to Today, by authors Mike Mueller and Tom Glatch. Published by Motorbooks, the book’s arrival is perfectly timed to coincide with the imminent electrification of the Dodge brand. And while that electrification won’t spell the end of internal combustion, the EVs will most certainly get the bulk of the marketing attention, if not – at this point in time – the market momentum. But let’s put off the future until tomorrow. This book is about recapturing the ‘more is better’ philosophy that permeated Motown in the ‘60s, and its ability to survive – and thrive – amidst the onslaught of safety, smog and insurance regulations beginning in the late ‘60s and continuing through today.

Photo courtesy of Quarto Publishing

The book is essentially the same one written by author Mike Mueller and published by Motorbooks in 2009, with updated material supplied by co-author Tom Glatch in 2024. As such, the book provides a deep dive into Mopar history from 1960 through 1974 – covered in some 285 pages – while Mr. Glatch is focused from 2006, when the Hemi was revived, along with Dodge’s performance positioning. And as you’d probably surmise, as what is now known as Stellantis embarks on electrification, this is a viable time to put an exclamation point on that Mopar history.

Whether you were there or not, there’s a tendency to undervalue all that Chrysler, Dodge and Plymouth were offering in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Much of the attention given to the ponycars or muscle cars of the time were – in large part – driven by personality. Ford’s Mustang had both Lee Iacocca and, in short order, Carroll Shelby. And in the Trans-Am series Chevrolet had both team owner Roger Penske and driver Mark Donohue. In contrast, the Plymouth Barracuda had Chrysler engineer Scott Harvey behind the wheel, and Scott’s family in the print advertisements. With all due credit to Scott, he was no Carroll Shelby.

Despite our collective oversight, there were some legendary brands produced by Dodge and Plymouth in the ‘60s and ‘70s, and if there are any missing from Mueller’s efforts I couldn’t find them. From the early ‘60s and Don Garlits’ many trips down the ¼ mile, to the launch of the Barracuda just a couple of weeks before the Mustang’s New York debut in 1964, to the Hemi-equipped Plymouth Satellite in 1966, the early years are all there, and if you’ve lost your Muscle (car) memory, it will all start flowing back. 

Mueller and Glatch serve up an entertaining text with a collection of dynamic pictures, giving you not only the sheetmetal and underhood details, but interior shots that put you right behind the wheel. And if you’ve grown tired of product ‘info’ (such as it is) constituting little more than the width of an infotainment screen, you’re reminded that infotainment in 1967 was bore, stroke and rear end ratio. 

Today, Plymouth is no more and Chrysler builds a minivan – and (for the moment) only a minivan. Dodge continues to offer performance, but it will undoubtedly be with an overlay of battery capacity and the speed with which that capacity can be recharged. All of that adds up to one irrevocable truth: You need to find yourself a Road Runner!

Failing that, find yourself THE COMPLETE BOOK OF DODGE AND PLYMOUTH MUSCLE CARS, by Mike Mueller and Tom Glatch. Its 320 pages – at $55 – are available at your local bookseller, or may be ordered from the publisher, 

Boldt, a contributor to outlets such as, Kelley Blue Book and Autoblog, brings to his laptop some forty years of experience in automotive retail, journalism and public relations. He is a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, The Washington Automotive Press Association and L.A.'s Motor Press Guild. David is the Managing Editor of txGarage, a regular panelist on the AutoNetwork Reports webcast/podcast, and the automotive contributor to Dallas' Katy Trail Weekly.

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