Semi-Super Stock A990 Plymouth

Posted June 17, 2020

By Dean Larson

Photos: Seller, eBay

An orange and white ’65 Plymouth two-door will instantly excite a Mopar fan such as myself. It’s the iconic images of the California Flash that instantly come to mind when I see this hulk of a Belvedere on eBay, and even more so after reading the hallowed A990 code in the seller’s ad. Right off the bat you’re thinking this is a Holy Grail car, the stuff of muscle car lore, but all is not exactly as it seems, clearly evident when you see that the auction closed with a winning bid of just $9,999. So what’s the scoop on this one? Let’s dig in.

Well the HEMI was hot for 1964, and Chrysler decided to make a good thing even better for 1965. The serious Stock racer could option the A990 version of the otherwise unassuming Dodge Coronet or Plymouth Belvedere, which bagged you a 426 ci HEMI with 12.5:1 compression, a new solid-lifter cam, aluminum cylinder heads and loads of special lightweight goodies. Thin-gauge steel was used to lighten the cars, as the NHRA’s rules changed after 1964 outlawing lightweight fiberglass and aluminum panels. Special lightweight Corning glass was used for the side windows, and all seam sealers and undercoatings were removed from the cars as Chrysler was cutting every once possible. Just 101 Dodges and 102 Plymouths rolled off the Lynch Road line to meet the production requirements with the NHRA.

The results were dramatic to say the least. In fact, few offerings from GM or Ford could post times equal to the A990 cars in the Stock classes, and simply showing up on race day meant you were likely to take the win. Notable A990 cars dominated the stock and automatic classes for years, and one of the most iconic was the 1967 Super Stock Eliminator victory by Ed Miller and Kip Guenther’s 1965 A990 Belvedere.

All this history helps to explain the legendary status and six-figure asking prices for restored A990 cars. All the more strange then that this ’65 Belvedere with the correct RO51 VIN prefix sold for less than $10,000 on eBay. And as you might expect, it’s because this car isn’t exactly an A990.

As the seller’s story goes, the parts on this Belvedere did leave the factory as a 1965 A990 Belvedere, which was sold new at Robinson’s Chrysler Plymouth in Denham Springs, Louisiana. As was the case with many Super Stock racers, the car was then allegedly modified into an altered wheelbase A/FX racer and destroyed. The original parts were then transferred to a different chassis in the 1970s, including the lightweight sheetmetal, seats, front bumper and HEMI K-member. The car lay dormant since 1985 until being unearthed sometime recently.

So when you get down to it, this one's a bit of a quandary. One one hand, this car is about as close as you can get to an original A990 car these days, but it's also not exactly the real thing. It's more of a top tier re-creation, albeit with a rusted out chassis, and I think the selling price reflects that. This car would be worth around $2,000 without all the Super Stock parts, and that's really what someone was buying here. I just hope it continues to live as a complete car, instead of having its lightweight parts stashed in a garage somewhere as spares.

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