Long before the Gulf Coast got a redcoat-style tarring by greedy Englishmen, it was infamous for its miserably steamy climate. As no surprise, Louisiana resident Matt Delaney makes it quite clear that air conditioning is one of the favorite features that his 1972 Plymouth GTX offers. Sure, you can get him to talk about the car's 618hp late-model Hemi and how efficiently it puts the power down exiting hairpins, but the talk always circles back to how comfortably the climate-controlled GTX chills its occupants. Somewhat ironically, whether it's via A/C or an extreme-duty radiator, Matt's spending habits have necessitated rigging up a cooling system directly to his bank account in order to avert spontaneous checkbook combustion. He has $150,000 tied up in the GTX, and he's built close to 50 high-end restomod Mopars over the years, 10 of which were Hemi 'Cudas. Unlike most people who can afford to do so, however, Matt doesn't build them to win trophies or stroke his own ego. A certified mechanical engineer, his goal is to continually push the envelope of ingenuity in an effort to build the perfect street machine. In his latest attempt, Matt has come pretty darn close.
If Matt's fixation on A/C seems peculiar, it's because he's the quintessential perfectionist. Since long before the Pro Touring movement hit full steam, he's been aspiring to build cars that accelerate, brake, and turn like hell while coddling passengers in comfort and retaining excellent street manners. His first car, a '73 Duster that he still owns today, packs a supercharged 500ci Wedge and runs 9.40s at 140-plus miles per hour. Over the years, Matt's tastes have evolved and the Duster proved too one-dimensional in its abilities. He's been bitten hard by the road racing bug, which is what prompted the build of his '72 GTX. "I used to be a drag race guy, but now I'm addicted to road racing," he says. "I tried running road courses with a Hemi 'Cuda, but the heavy motor makes the front end push entering a corner. The biggest problem is that the back end comes out from underneath you as soon as you hit the gas coming out of a corner. The B-Body has a wheelbase that's 6 inches longer than a Challenger, and 8 inches longer than a 'Cuda. I think an E-Body would work better in an autocross, but I figured the B-Body platform would offer better stability on a road course."
The longer wheelbase is just one of the reasons why Matt opted for a GTX. "The B-Body isn't just a stretched version of an E-Body. It is also more aerodynamic, and it has one of the stiffest chassis of any Mopar," he says. "On a 2.5-mile road course, you can easily hit 120 mph on the straights, so good aero is very important. A suspension can't do its job if the chassis is flopping around all over the place. Even though subframe connectors are readily available for most muscle cars, with a unibody car, it's always a good idea to start with the stiffest chassis you can get. Chrysler actually riveted weights under the floor of '72 and later B-Bodies-right in front of the back seat area-to cut down on noise and vibrations, and make the car feel more solid. "
Although his day job as a real estate developer keeps him plenty busy, Matt has built so many cars through the decades that it eventually became cost-effective for him to start up his own shop, Delaney Auto Design. With dozens of completed projects under his belt, he's learned that it sometimes makes much more sense to build clones rather than originals. "With a Pro Touring build like this, you have to ask yourself: 'What parts are you going to keep that's factory original?' If the answer is nothing, then it makes no sense to pay up the yin yang for a rusted-up jalopy just because it's an original 440 car," he says. "A lot of these original cars have been sitting in salvage yards for years, and have had tons of stuff stolen off of them. That's why I chose to buy a Satellite to turn into a GTX."