THE CLASSICS 1968 Plymouth Satellite: Nice car for NASA employee
With her college degree in hand, Jeanie Hughes was scheduled to start work after graduation, but she had no transportation. That’s when her mother saved the day by loaning her daughter her own personal driver — a 1968 Plymouth Satellite two-door hardtop.
Jeanie was amused to be driving a car named “Satellite” to her job at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
The Plymouth came with vinyl trimmed bench seats, a 318-cubic-inch V-8 engine with a two-barrel carburetor. The 230-horsepower engine was reasonably economical and powerful enough to easily move the 3,070-pound car. The well-appointed Plymouth also had a torqueflite automatic transmission, a signal-seeking AM radio, power steering, tinted windshield, a heater and deluxe 14-inch wheel covers. The two-door hardtop with a curvaceous rear window was by far the most popular Satellite model. It rides comfortably on a 116-inch wheelbase.
Hughes soon purchased a car of her own and returned the Plymouth to her mother, who continued to drive it very sparingly.
“My mother preferred the Satellite to a new car,” Hughes said, “so we arranged to have it restored mechanically.” Thereafter, her mother enjoyed her roadworthy Plymouth Satellite until her death.
Eventually, Jeanie Hughes inherited the Plymouth. Seeing that the car was still in superb mechanical condition and in a not-too-terrible cosmetic shape, Hughes decided to restore her mother’s car.
“I like the simplicity,” she said.
First things first, however. She had a garage built so the soon-to-be restored car would have a place to come home to. With that task accomplished, and with the odometer reading only 77,090 miles, the Plymouth was sent off to be rejuvenated.
The accumulated dings and dents were erased, both bumpers were replated and the rusted out floor pan in the trunk was replaced. The two-tone green vinyl upholstery was replaced with material matching the original, although Hughes adds, “I think I liked the faded original vinyl better.” Finally, the same mist green color paint as the original was applied to return the car to like-new appearance.
With the restoration complete, the car was driven home on new radial tires. “It scoots along on the highway,” Hughes said, while driving behind the familiar three-spoke steering wheel and the 120-mph speedometer, enjoying the air coming from the open wing vent windows — despite the fact her mother preferred air conditioning.
The like-new Plymouth Satellite ventures out for pleasure and maintenance drives.
“If you don’t drive them,” Hughes’ husband said, “you’re buying trouble.”