If you were among those who frequented Dunkers Donuts on Harbor Boulevard in North Fullerton or hung out at Lions or OCIR back in the mid-’60s, you know all about this low 11-second Savoy.
The car is owned by Terry Bitrich, but Terry’s long-time friend and the Savoy’s original owner (and the author of this article), David Wald, was trying to talk his dad into buying him a performance car. Dad, of course, would have none of that.
Terry notes, “David did pull the wool over his dad’s eyes. David had his eyes on a 389 Tri-Power GTO. His dad said ‘no,’ so when David showed him the taxicab-like Savoy, his dad believed it to be tame enough.”
I guess dear ol’ dad didn’t go on the test drive.
“I first saw the Savoy in late 1964,” said Terry. “David was street racing it out of Dunkers. He would tow the car to the donut shop — in top tune no less — and wait for some other hot car to show up and race from the light. A crowd of no less than 50 people would then pool their money and the owner of the shop would hold it for the winner.” What was most significant about the Savoy? “I never saw the car lose.”
How could it! After Dave ran it for a while, he broke the motor. With that lack of fortune, along came another option: The Plymouth was fitted with a stock appearing 480-cid stroked Max Wedge built by none other than Reath Automotive in Long Beach. With its completely stock appearance — sans the fender well headers and 1011/42-inch M&H slicks — it turned low 11s at 122 mph at Lions and Orange County.
“Not bad considering the technology of the time,” said Terry.
The Savoy went into a garage where it sat until 1986 with only 16,000 miles on the odometer — albeit a 1/4-mile at a time.” — Terry Bitrich
The Savoy went into a garage where it sat until 1986 with only 16,000 miles on the odometer — albeit a 1/4-mile at a time.”
— Terry Bitrich
“We continued to race it until getting drafted in 1970,” said Terry. “At that time, the Savoy went into a garage where it sat until 1986 with only 16,000 miles on the odometer — albeit a 1/4-mile at a time. At that time I began a total restoration that took four years.”
The ultra-low content heater-delete Savoy, with its only option being an AM Radio, was placed in the hands of Larry and Eileen Harrel of Straight Racing who accomplished the minor body work and repaint in the original Medium Tan Metallic. This all-steel two-door runs with 4.56:1 gears and the original Super Stock rear suspension which is dampened by KYB shocks front and rear. Inside, Original Auto Interiors of St. Claire, Minnesota, handled the minor upholstery work retaining much of the original upholstery.
Under the hood, the Max Wedge is now a bit tamer thanks to a Crower .595-inch lift cam with 318-degrees duration and 105-degree lobe center. Tamer?
“Yeah,” says Terry, “it’s tamer than the Isky grind it replaced.”
Since its restoration, it routinely makes the trip up to the San Fernando Valley each April for the Chrysler Performance West Spring Fling show.
Terry’s buddies, most likely led by David, have of late been encouraging Terry to take the Savoy to a local cruise night in North Orange County. For now, Terry has yet to make that kind of commitment. However, we wonder if he would consider running it down on Harbor near Chapman Avenue?
Terry lives in Arizona and the Savoy has won numerous car shows in the Lake Havasu area. Terry and David are still friends after 50 years.
P.S., David’s son Justin has had the opportunity to ride in his Dad’s 50-year-old race car and in Dad’s new C7 Corvette. Great way to extend the family memories.