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Ride Of The Week 08/29/2022: John Campbell's 1977 Plymouth Aero GT


The car show oddballs always get my attention at a show. This one is no exception, a 1977 Plymouth Aero GT. What exactly is that, you ask? Well during the fuel crisis of the early 1970s, the Detroit Big 3 were scrambling to catch up in the small car market dominated by imports from Europe and Japan. General Motors and Ford had smaller cars already in development which debuted early in the decade in the forms of the Vega & Pinto. But Chrysler had not such development program for compact cars, so they turned to Mitsubishi and began a program known as captive imports. These were cars that were built overseas but badged as Dodges and Plymouths. Most famously was the Dodge Colt, but its sister car was the Plymouth Aero.

When I spotted this example at the 2022 Mars Rumble, I knew what the car was but not exactly. I saw the Plymouth crest on the grill but there was no other badging as the car was heavily modified. Gone was the 97 cubic inch mill and replaced with a 440 bored out to 468. This little econobox was now a drag car.

John Campbell of Cranberry, PA bought it in Detroit as a shell. “There was nothing from the A-pillar forward. I saw it online and it looked like something fun to do.” John has had fun for the past 10 years building this compact hatchback into a quarter miler. Over that decade, he’s added a 727 Torqueflite, Mark Williams Rear end with 3.90 gears and a full tube frame chassis. The front end is all fiberglass and finished off in Lava Candy from House of Kolor.

“I like different. I like unusual. We were big into the pro street circuit so that’s what I set out to do with this car,” John says. When I asked about living life a ‘quarter mile at a time’ he remarked that he’s only made on pass at the drag strip, “We did a 9.92 but had a bad carb.” Turns out, he’s only had the car done for the past 4 or 5 months, so more track days lie ahead for this car show oddity, for sure!

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