Project Possum: The Scamp Is A Running, Driving, Machine And It Is Headed For Power Tour…Tomorrow!

Project Possum: The Scamp Is A Running, Driving, Machine And It Is Headed For Power Tour…Tomorrow!

(Words and photos by Kaleb Kelley) – After many months and hundred dollar bills, my project has finally transformed from a plain slant-6 grandma’s car into a seriously fun street machine. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t super powerful and will not make other cars quake in its midst, but it is a blast. This is my first classic car that I purchased in October of 2013. A month later, I blew a ring in the leaning tower of power after a month of daily driving it a little too hard.  It has now been a year and a half and I am finally finishing it up to leave on the Hot Rod Power Tour…on Thursday. Regardless of the last minute rush, she is finished. For those of you who haven’t seen the other articles; let me give you a quick rundown.

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This is my 1973 Plymouth Scamp. It is originally from Hawaii and was brought to the mainland as a gift from a grandson to his grandpa. About 15 years ago, the man sold it to a young guy who fixed it up a little bit and took it to some shows just as a fun driver. He then sold it to Mike Ward, a family member of the guy who shipped it over from Hawaii. Mike has a knack for weird cars and does a great job fixing them up. He rebuilt the little 225 slant-6 as close to the Hyper Pak motor specs as he could. He put a Racer Brown ST-21 cam, Offenhauser intake, ported the heads and a few other things that I don’t have any info on in detail. That slant-6 woke up quite a bit. When he sold it to me he had been focusing on other projects and had set it aside. I borrowed a little money from my dad and bought the car. All I did was go through the brakes, open up the air vents in the cab to unleash the junk inside, and knock some dirt daubers out of the dash and other crevices. After that, she was ready to run. As my first classic, I drove it hard and like it was the baddest hot rod out there. I should’ve been more careful, but I was ignorant. I did enjoy watching people’s faces as I told them it was a 6-cylinder after they heard it lope by. I blew the ring on the poor motor running it too hard unfortunately. After evaluating what it would cost to rebuild the slant-6 and put it back in versus what it would cost to put my dad’s 1971 340 and 727 Torqueflite he had offered to give to me in, I sided with the 340.

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From then on, it has been nothing but “why nots,” and “while we’re at its,” to stack up the bill and make my brain hurt knowing how much I have in the car. We ended up getting the paint and body work done because of some rust popping up and to clean up the engine bay while we were there. It took longer to finish the paint and body work on my car than it takes for a couple to produce a whole new human to the world. In the over 9 months of waiting, I had talked with a few companies about helping them out on social media in exchange for discounts on products. Before I knew it, there was a Holley Terminator EFI system, Hotchkis TVS system, Wilwood 4-wheel disc brakes, and more waiting at my house for the Scamp. I ended up buying much more and replacing nearly everything but she is done now. Now that you have heard the short story of the origin of the Scamp and how the idea of creating such a car had come about, let me tell you about it as it sits today.

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Since first buying the car, I have become enthralled into the world of ProTouring. ProTouring is a style of building a car which is essentially a classic car with modern suspension and drivetrain components to allow it to handle anything from a highway cruise, to an L.A. traffic jam, to a hard day at the road course. I had decided that I wanted to stand out from the crowd, so I decided to go this route in a way with the Scamp. Therefore, I turned to Hotchkis Sport Suspension for their Total Vehicle System for my car. They are one of few who create performance suspension systems for various Mopars. The kit includes sway bars, lowering springs, control arms, strut rods, steering rods, and much more. My dad and I installed the whole kit ourselves which was an interesting venture. Driving it today, I realize that every minute we spent was worth it. The car handles like a sports car especially when you compare it to the floaty, couch-like feeling you got driving it before. All around, the Hotchkis system is pretty awesome and I am more than happy with it. Sure, it would be nice to have a 4-link and a tubular subframe with coilovers like some of the fancy cars you see on the autocross and road course do, but I like that Hotchkis stayed true to the basis of the factory suspension.

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I was trying to decide on wheels and brakes next, but I was at a loss. I initially wanted a set of mesh style wheels, but didn’t think that I could afford them or find ones that would stick out enough to me. I ended up finding Boze Forged Wheels and their ProTouring style wheel that features a mesh pattern and an aggressive look. I instantly fell in love with the wheel and struck a deal with Boze for a set of 17” in their Anthracite & Matte Clear finish. After that, I realized that I couldn’t just do the Wilwood brakes up front, but that I needed them in the rear so that my wheels wouldn’t look silly with ugly drums behind them. Very long story short, we ordered 11” brakes all around with 4-piston calipers and man do they stop that car. It surprised me just how hard the car would stop after driving with manual drums for so long. It also helps that I have Falken’s Azenis RT 615-K on all four corners with 225-series in the front and 245-series in the rear. I wanted to fit bigger tires, but thankfully the Falken’s compensate for the skinny tires with a TON of grip.

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The powerplant is the ’71 340 small block LA out of my dad’s 1972 Satellite Sebring Plus. He bought the Sebring believing it to be a 318 car as the VIN suggested, but ended up getting lucky with a ’71 340 as revealed by the codes on the engine. When he put a monster big block in the Satellite, he set the 340 aside and said that he would let me have the motor once I could find a car of my own. Now the hot little small block with the lumpy Mopar Purple cam sits in the Scamp. I wish I knew more about the motor, but all I know is that at some point he went through it completely and the internals were sweet. You could still see the hone marks on the cylinder walls at the time. The motor runs great in my car thanks to some great parts.

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For fuel management, I have Holley’s Terminator EFI system, which is a self-learning throttle-body fuel-injection setup. It has turned out to be everything that I could’ve hoped for. The spark is handled by an MSD Digital 6AL box, billet distributor, and Blaster 2 Coil. The spark is nothing without a good battery, so of course I had to have an OPTIMA Batteries red top.

My dad kept trying to talk me into just using stock manifolds for the car since headers seem to be crazy tight on the A-body’s, but I didn’t listen. I got a set of Ceramic Coated TTI Step Headers with 1 5/8” primaries and 1 3/4” secondaries. They’re supposed to be the only ones in the business that fit correctly and now I see why. They do fit the car, but man is it tight. I can’t imagine how bad some of the other headers fit. It’s pretty hard to adjust the shifting linkage with the headers in the way my dad found out. The headers disperse the exhaust down the pipes which include an H-pipe into a set of BlackWidow Venon 250-series mufflers. When I first looked through them, I laughed a little because I could see straight through. I expected them to be insanely loud, but they are definitely not. Their claim to all tone and no drone has rung true so far with the Scamp. The normal drone is gone and the car still sounds awesome under WOT.

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I was going to be installing the 727 that was in my dad’s Satellite, but after thinking about the cost to rebuild it and the possibility of finding a weak point on the tour, I decided to purchase a B&M 727 Torqueflite Street/Strip transmission. It was only $700 with free shipping so I almost couldn’t say no. For the rear end, I bought a 8 3/4 rear end that supposedly had 3.23 gears in it. Yesterday I took it to a local shop working on my dad’s ‘Cuda so that they could put a new Eaton TrueTrac differential in the car and new bearings, etc. When tearing it down, they noticed that it actually has 2.76 gears, which is significantly different. Although ideally I would not like something that high, it has guts down low still and runs 2,700 rpms or so at 75 which I am more than happy with. I’ll stick with the 2.76’s for now, but may want to change that in the future.

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My interior was in fair condition before, but the carpet was trashed and the front seat cover was torn. I ordered both of those thinking everything would be fine, but the body shop accidently broke many of the hard plastic panels inside of the car. The old brittle plastics crushed in their big brawny man hands and left me in between a rock and a hard place. The panel on top of the door panels is not reproduced for the front or rear so we ended up buying a set of tan fronts and gluing the rear together. We also had to buy a ’72 Dart front A-pillar from Classic Industries, which worked perfect. To get everything to match, we painted it in OER’s interior paint with the factory code for my color, bright blue. The interior is all together and we put everything together ourselves in there. Not too bad for a couple of newbies. The front seat was recovered by our friend Ronnie Cathy in Sherman, TX who is one of the best interior guys I know of. He rebuilt the seat completely with new burlap and foam because it did not meet his standards and man does it look and feel great.

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The body work was taken on by Len’s Body Shop in Durant, OK. They’re very nice guys and tried very hard on the car, but it turns out that a few parts that we had him repaint do not match the rest of the car, such as the rear quarters, hood and roof. I hopefully will be getting somebody to help me out and repaint it all to match soon. Thankfully everything is good in the jams, trunk and under the hood.  The body just need blended. It seems like a lot of money for the work, but I know Dennis over there tried his best and really put his heart into the car.

I have to say that I am thankful to my father most of all for helping me get this together. Without him, I wouldn’t have had the car in the first place. He has helped me out a lot through the process and is currently helping me as I find myself penniless trying to pay for the Power Tour and all of the final details of the car. It is also very cool to have the motor from the Satellite in my car. His Satellite is the first car that made me really start to love classic cars. It is the car that made me start the Instagram page @ClassicsDaily which has led me to BangShift, ProTouring Magazine, and soon my own digital magazine on I’m very thankful for what my dad has done for me throughout this and even though we butt heads a few times it is done now! Now we just have to get the cars together for the Hot Rod Power Tour this coming week. This is actually a lot less last minute than last year when we had to swap tanks the morning we left for the first stop last year. If there are any other long haulers from the Dallas area, post on the Hot Rod Power Tour Facebook group’s page and I’m sure we’ll see it and can meet up.

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I also have to say thanks to my sponsors. Holley Performance has been a huge help to me by letting me help them out so that they can help me achieve the dream of what I want in my car. Hotchkis has also been a huge help. Without the help, I would probably still have a slant-6 grandma’s car, but I don’t. Wilwood, MSD, Black Widow Exhaust, Optima Batteries, and Falken also helped me out in big ways. One company that I also have to be super thankful to is Boze Forged wheels. Zak over there and his family treated me very well and were nothing but professional and helpful with choosing the right wheels for my car. I have a soft spot for a true family owned and run business like Boze. There aren’t many companies out there like that today and I believe that they encapsulate what they American dream is meant to be, not what it has been distorted to now. If you need a set of killer wheels for your ride, hit up Zak at Boze and tell him Kaleb sent you.

I also want to send a big thank you out to all of you Bangshifters. I’m very thankful that Chad and Brian have allowed me to be apart of this and I love seeing the feedback and support from you guys. If you see the car on the Power Tour, make sure to say hi to the goofy-looking 6’3” kid driving it. I’d love to meet more of you and get to see your rides on the tour. If you see the Scamp on the road with a camera hanging out of the side, that’s me. Try to stay steady with your speed and I’ll get a killer photo of your ride. For those of you not making it on the tour this year, I will try to have some photos up on her daily to allow you to drool from the comfort of your couch. Good luck to all going on the tour this year and I hope that everybody stays safe!

P.S. Go check out the newest print magazine out there; ProTouring Magazine. I have an article on the Indy Street Rods & Classics JudgeMENTAL GTO and photos from some of the OPTIMA Search for the Ultimate Street Car events. Let me know your opinions on the magazine! It is available in most major retailers that carry Rides Magazine.


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10 thoughts on “Project Possum: The Scamp Is A Running, Driving, Machine And It Is Headed For Power Tour…Tomorrow!

  1. 50tbrd88

    That’s one fine looking Scamp! See you on the road, I’ll be the 6′ 4″ good looking (lol) guy in the fox body T-bird.

  2. 75Duster

    Ironically, I had a similar Scamp as a parts car when I was in Hawaii ( a Mopar friend and I parted it out near the Ford Island Navy barracks).

  3. doug gregory

    Bravo. Your vision of the car (one of my favorite body styles ever) turned out excellent. Not only that, but you kept it real. The wheels are modern and sport good rubber, but the wheels are not disproportionate to the wheel opening on the car. Lots of pro-touring rides seem to go overboard on wheel size and lower the car way to much to live on real streets. The stance is great and your choices lead to a car someone could easily live with driving every day. Great package. N-I-C-E….!!!

  4. jerry z

    It nice to see a Scamp modded. My parents bought one new in ’74 but triple green!

    Hope it makes the Power Tour trouble free.

  5. Dave the Bartender

    Thanks for sharing your build, I enjoyed the read, and pictures.
    I will look for you on the Tour so I can see it in person.


  6. Mark67

    Sweet Scamp, exactly how I’d do it. My aunt had one, same year, and I wished I had gotten it when she was done with it. Question; why so much negative camber, can it not be brought back in closer to neutral with the Hotchkis parts? You’ll loose your tires quickly with such an aggressive angle. Cheers and thanks, Mark

  7. BigDogSS

    Great deal on the B&M transmission. I couldn’t believe it and I had to go check their website myself.

  8. crazy canuck

    Awesome job , drove one of these in high school swapped V8 made it go but cornering was done on the door handles .

  9. Mike

    I followed your build on Instagram, never really thought about a Scamp. You have opened my eyes and no doubt many others to this fine little car. Great job. Good luck on the tour and Enjoy the ride.

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