Jay Leno gets philosophical in a 1971 Plymouth GTX
Jay Leno’s latest video, featuring Dan Hallisey’s 1971 Plymouth GTX with a numbers-matching 375-horsepower, 440-cubic-inch V-8, starts out with the same basic format now familiar to fans of the comedian’s Youtube show. Leno brings out Hallisey, and the two proceed to discuss the car, which has been restored but still has almost all of its original equipment, including its styled-steel wheels.
One thing not original is the GTX’s Air Grabber vacuum operated pop-up hood scoop, a factory option back in ’71. Hallisey’s car originally came with factory air conditioning, but Chrysler’s top-mounted A/C compressor interfered with the rather large housing and mechanism for the scoop. Hallisey, whose day job fortuitously is running an HVAC shop, replaced the Mopar compressor with a serpentine belt driven aftermarket unit, making it, as far as Dan knows, the only GTX with both a Grabber hood and A/C.
When it was time for Jay to take the GTX for a spin around Burbank, however, Hallisey passed up the passenger seat in favor of Vincent Vanni, Dan’s former high school auto shop teacher. Hallisey credits Vanni with teaching him the basic skills he uses to make a living, and for the past seven years they’ve worked together on Dan’s project cars. They finished the restoration of the GTX after Hallisey bought it at a Mecum auction about five years ago.
During the ride, Leno and Vanni wax a bit philosophical, mourning the death of auto shop classes and discussing the changes in the automotive world, some good, some not so good, in the nearly half century since the GTX rolled of an assembly line. Leno, whose abilities as an automotive historian are on par with his comedic talent, points out that the period when the GTX was made was close to the midpoint of automotive history, a half-century from the motorcar era, and almost a half century now since the GTX was new. Cars have changed a bit in 50 years.
Neither man is a fan of today’s remove-and-replace-rather-than-repair mentality prevalent at car dealers today. On the other hand, there are advantages to modern life. Vanni has a vintage Plymouth Duster with a genuine 426 ‘Elephant’ Hemi—a 642-hp engine that cost him about $35,000 to build up. He tells Leno that Hallisey bought an electronic chip for his 2016 Scat Pack Challenger for just a couple hundred dollars that boosted output by 180 hp.
“I bust my butt to build this motor and now a guy comes along with this little thing that I plug in and he’s making more horsepower than I am,” he says.
Check out the full video for more on Hallisey and his GTX.