Mopar 1 Source - Mopar Collector's Guide Magazine


An Enjoyable Hemi B-Body Investment

by Admin

by Chris Holley

There comes a time when, due to family obligations, work requirements, and advancing age, purchasing a restored vehicle is more manageable than performing or paying for a time-consuming restoration. Instead, procuring a ready-to-drive show vehicle makes the experience more enjoyable. In 2021, Danny Holovacko of Canadensis, Pennsylvania, followed the plan of instantaneous satisfaction and purchased a restored 1966 Hemi Satellite. Holovacko is accustomed to rebuilding Mopars, as he has restored many B and E-bodies, and even utilized C-bodies for his “winter rats.” Still, when the chance presented itself to own a restored Hemi car, he jumped at it. He followed the plan to a tee by immediately driving and showing the car, with excellent results.

What makes the Hemi so unique? The 426 Hemi (aka Elephant) was developed as a race engine in 1964. However, the tremendous success of the engine was quickly snubbed as various sanctioning bodies, where the Hemis dominated, began requiring manufacturers to offer similar engines to the buying public. Thus, the 426 Street Hemi was designed and introduced in 1966. While the Street Hemi would only be an option for six model years, 1966-1971, it developed a time-proven legacy based upon its superior design. The 426” (7.0-liter) Hemi was known for its incredible power and performance, producing an underestimated advertised 425 horsepower and 490 lb.-ft of torque. It featured hemispherical combustion chambers (hence the name "Hemi") that allowed for efficient airflow and high-performance capabilities.
In 1966, the Hemi was an option in several Mopars, including Plymouth B-bodies. The new-look Belvedere, of which the Satellite was the top of the model line, had a sleek and stylish design, typical of the era's muscle cars. It featured a distinctive front grille and trim, and buyers could choose from various body styles, including a four-door sedan, two-door hardtop, or a convertible. The interior of the two-door Hemi Satellite was relatively basic, as was typical for many Mopars of the era. However, it did offer buyers bucket seats and other performance-oriented options.
Plymouth produced 35,399 Satellites for 1966, with 817 equipped with a Hemi. Holovacko’s Satellite is one of only 503 matched with an 18-spline A833 four-speed transmission. The drivetrain was finished with a Dana 60 rear end. In 1966, the editors of Super Stock and Drag Illustrated, with the assistance of Bill “Grumpy” Jenkins, Ronnie Sox, and representatives from Hurst, performed an on-track evaluation of a 1966 four-speed Hemi Satellite. The Satellite was not a “specially prepared” ringer but a production car from an assembly line. Astoundingly, the results were more impressive than expected. With Jenkins tuning the Hemi, and Sox overseeing the driving chores, the two-ton Satellite traversed Atco’s quarter mile twenty-five times, with the best elapsed time of 13.10 seconds at nearly 108 mph! The article’s author noted; ‘Now when you consider this was done in a 4000-pound car, 3.54 rear ratio and stock, closed, exhaust system, it becomes downright impressive. And when you figure that the car was in full street trim, and was driven right off the track and onto the highway after the last run without so much as even lifting the hood, it becomes almost unbelievable.’
The history of Holovacko’s Satellite is still a bit of a mystery, but at some point, in the late 1980s, the car was placed in a field in Chicago with a damaged Hemi, which had met its end with an unplanned high-speed disassembly. After sitting for a few decades, O’Fallon, Missouri resident Ted Theis located and purchased the Satellite in 2014. Theis dragged the Satellite back to his garage, and the restoration started.

Being a car from the Midwest that had lain in a pasture, the quarter panels were in terrible shape. Luckily, Theis was able to find a 1966 B-body donor car. Both quarters and a few additional areas were repaired with factory metal from the donor vehicle. Once the panels were welded to the Satellite, Theis dipped the chassis to seal the welded regions permanently. While the body was being repaired, Theis took a 1965 factory replacement block, a pair of aluminum heads, and a complete rotating assembly to AMI Racing Engines for a full update. The cylinders of the 426 were overbored 0.020 inches, which resulted in a 429.60” displacement. The stock crank was polished and fitted with Eagle H-beam rods riding on Clevite-coated bearings and swinging Silvolite pistons wrapped with Sealed Power rings. The heads were reassembled to factory stock. The intake valves measure 2.250”, and the exhaust valves are 1.940”. AMI calculated the combustion chamber volumes at 168.0 cubic centimeters. The camshaft selected was a significant deviation from the factory solid-lifter unit. A Comp Cams hydraulic roller was slipped into the block. The intake (I) lift is 0.605” and 0.555” on the exhaust (E). The duration @ 0.050” is 236.5° (I) and 242.0° (E) with a 110° lobe centerline. The camshaft was advanced to 105°. With a 0.040” head gasket thickness, the compression ratio of the Hemi ended up at a pump-gas friendly 10.04:1. The results of the precision engine work were an honest 500 horsepower at 5,600 rpm, and 486 ft. lbs. of torque at 5,300 rpm.
The four-speed transmission (2.66 low gear) and Dana were rebuilt during the restoration. Theis had a 3.73:1 gear set up in the rear end. Because the goal of the restoration was to maintain the 1960s stock appearance, Theis kept the 11” drum brakes on all four corners. The Hemi was reassembled with the correct 1966 carburetors, intake, and valve covers. An electronic ignition was discretely installed to replace the dual-point distributor.
The Satellite was repainted in a factory WW1 white hue, and the unique Citron Gold interior was meticulously restored with Legendary soft parts. A new date-coded factory green (tinted glass) windshield was installed. All the stainless and bright work was cleaned and polished. The radiator, wiper motor, and K-member, with the skid plate, were reconditioned. Lastly, the front and rear suspensions were rebuilt.
Finally, the day came to unite the drivetrain with the chassis. Theis had the original exhaust manifolds, starter, and bellhousing, but he elected to install an aftermarket bellhousing, a mini starter, and a pair of TTI headers. The exhaust replicated the factory design with an H-pipe, but the tubes were a larger 3” diameter.
The beautiful restoration of the Satellite is a result of every part being a new-old-stock (NOS) piece or a sandblasted and repainted, or replated, component. The restoration cost was considerable, but the results are undoubtedly evident. Theis has restored several Mopars over the years, and the Satellite was indeed a keeper, but health concerns led to Theis selling the car; unfortunately, he succumbed to cancer in 2022. The Satellite was sold and shipped to Kentucky, where it garnered five awards at six national Mopar shows. However, after a few short years, the Satellite was again put up for sale, and this time, Holovacko jumped on the opportunity to own the restored Hemi.
Since Holovacko purchased the Satellite, he’s made a few minor changes to the car, but for the most part, he has appreciated it. Holovacko relishes taking the Satellite to car shows and major events. The vehicle is a consistent winner on any occasion. At the 2023 Carlisle Nationals, the Satellite won the ’66-’67 Stock B-body (except GTX) and earned two Celebrity Choice awards. The first was from David Rockwell of Ramchargers Research and Development, who shared a great story with Holovacko about thrashing on a Hemi Satellite in 1966. The second award was from representatives of Stiles Performance in Windsor, Pennsylvania. The late Bill Stiles was known for his prowess in making the mighty Hemi scream in his A/Stock B-bodies. Of the 3,100+ cars on the Carlisle grounds, the Satellite was the only vehicle to win three major awards.

Holovacko intends to stick with the plan with the Satellite; enjoy it, and reap the satisfaction of bench racing with fellow car enthusiasts. So, the next time you see a white Hemi Satellite with Citron Gold interior, take a closer look, and don’t be afraid to chat up Holovacko.

1966 Plymouth Satellite

Base price $2,827
Options on car profiled: 426 Hemi with four-speed manual transmission, premium bucket seats, console, 3.54 Sure Grip differential, AM radio, and tachometer, which added $1359.80.

Block type: OHV Hemi V8, cast-iron block and cylinder heads
(Currently aluminum heads)
Displacement: 426” (Currently 429.6”)
Bore & Stroke: 4.250” (Currently 4.270”) x 3.75”
Compression Ratio: 10.25:1 (Currently 10.04:1)
Horsepower: 425 @ 5,000 rpm (Currently 500 @ 5,600 rpm)
Torque: 490 ft. lbs. @ 4,000 rpm (Currently 486 @ 5,300 rpm)
Valvetrain: mechanical, flat-tappets (Currently hydraulic, roller-tappets)
Camshaft: 276 degrees, .467/.473” lift
Induction system: stock, cast iron manifold with a pair of Carter AFB four-barrels
Lubrication system: pressure, gear-type pump
Electrical system: 12-volt
Exhaust System: Cast iron low-restriction manifolds with H-pipe (Currently TTI headers, 3” exhaust)

Type: New Process A833 fully synchronized four-speed manual

Type Dana 60 limited-slip, four-pinion hypoid, Sure-Grip, ratio, 3.54:1 (Currently 3.73:1)

Type: Recirculating ball, manual
Ratio: 16:1

Type: Four-wheel drums, hydraulic, manual

Front: Independent, unequal length upper and lower control arms with torsion bars, hydraulic tube shock absorbers
Rear: Hotchkis-type, semi-elliptic leaf springs, hydraulic tube shock absorbers

Wheels & Tires:
Wheels: Stamped steel, drop center, five lug, Front/Rear: 14x5.5”
(Currently 15x6”)
Tires: Goodyear Blue Streak bias-ply; Front/Rear: 7.75x14”
(Currently Front 195/75R15, Rear 235/75r15)

Plymouth produced 35,399 1966 Satellites, with 817 equipped with a Hemi and only 503 with a four-speed transmission

0-60 mph 5.3 seconds
¼ mile ET 13.81 seconds @ 104 mph
13.10 seconds @ 108 mph
Top speed 140 mph
Sources: From April 1966 Car and Driver test, and March 1966 Super Stock and Drag Illustrated test.

Owner’s View: Danny Holovacko, owner/operator of JEH Trucking, was stung by the Mopar bug as a fifteen-year-old in Avenel, New Jersey. He located a 1969 Super Bee with a 383 and four-speed, but his sister would not lend him the $600 he needed to purchase it. She stated it was too loud. Holovacko luckily saved a few bucks and found a 1969 Coronet that he cloned into a Super Bee in 1980. Since that first Mopar, Holovacko has owned thirteen Mopars, including a ’66 Belvedere, ’67 GTX, ’68 Charger, ’69 Coronet, ’70 Barracuda Gran Coupe, a few Ramchargers, several C-bodies, and a late-model Dodge Ram. Holovacko stated, “I run mostly New England, but I’m home every night and have weekends off. That gives me time to show off my Hemi car.”


Write a review