Fingers - The "Near Lee"

"Englands answer to the General Lee"

We like to bring originality to TorqueCars and we are sure that you will have never quite seen something like this before. Fingers has painstakingly turned a 'normal' American sport satellite into a General Lee look alike and spent time tuning it up into a drag strip monster. Here is fingers remarkable story.

"On 25th July 2005, after an 18 month long search for a Black 1968 Dodge Charger I accidentally stumbled across this rare beast on eBay, a 1970 Plymouth Sport Satellite. As soon as I saw it I wanted it, and the eBay ad had a link to approx 50 pictures of the bodywork restoration, from this into this:

Which made me want it even more? The car had only been listed for about 20 minutes so I e-mailed the seller to see if he wanted to sell privately before anyone bid on it, he agreed and I picked it up the next day.

When I got the car home I gave it a good going over to see if I had bought a 35 year old car that’s seen a hard 35 years and was pleasantly surprised.

The body shell is good and very solid. The only welding that has been done is a patch in the boot floor and to the lower rear quarters, which were standard places for these cars to corrode.

The 5.2liter V8 engine starts and runs like a dream from cold with no choke with two pumps of the throttle and a flick of the key (and makes the most awesome noise).

The original single exit exhaust was removed some time ago and replace with a dual system with two very small (almost not worth having) cherry bomb type silencers. The standard 2barrel carburetor had been removed and replace with a 600cfm 4barrel Holley carburetor with vacuum operated secondary throttles. This was fitted via an adaptor plate allowing the 4bbl carb to be bolted to a 2bbl intake manifold. While this setup worked to a certain degree it was not ideal. If you left the engine idling for longer than 5 minutes it would over fuel and flood itself. I remedied this by asking Father Christmas for an Edelbrock (Weber’s American division) Street performer 4bbl Intake manifold. That was fitted last Boxing day and made an impressive difference.

The gearbox is a 3 speed auto and it functions perfectly. Well almost. Every month or so after the car has been standing for a day or two, it decides to spit most of its gear oil out over my drive and I have no idea why?

The car pays for itself - school proms are fantastic because I'm getting paid to show off!

The rear axle has been changed at some point from a 7.25inch axle to a stronger 8.25inch unit. This currently has excessive amounts of end play (you can slide the drive shafts approx 0.25 of an inch in and out of the axle casing without undoing anything) and requires a rebuild or replacing. I will probably replace with an even stronger 8.75inch unit so I can give it even more abuse.

The wheels that were fitted to the car when I bought it were horrible, ugly pepper pot looking type things that I think really did not suit the car:

So I again embarked on a major search on eBay for some wheels. This came to an end when I found some American Racing Vector wheels that were new old stock and had been sitting in a store room for years. These cost me far too much money but they are quite rare and haven’t been made since 1997 so I paid it. I think you’ll agree, they look so much better

The next thing I had to do was raise the rear end by 3-4 inches due to the new rear tyres. I had gone from 205/60R15 to 265/50R15 and there was a little bit of a clearance problem (must remember to check that in future).

This was around the time “the Dukes” film was released and I have my own Wedding Car Hire business (contact me via the TorqueCars forum for more details) so I stickered the Satellite up like the legendary “General Lee” with the company name and contact details in the rear window to get the business some attention. (That was the excuse anyway, it seemed like a really good laugh and just had to be done) After a couple of weeks I started to think about peeling the stickers off (as I had had my fun and it’s not a dodge charger) when the phone rang with a booking for the “General”. I explained it was the wrong car but they didn’t care. Since then jobs have been coming in enough for the car to pay for its own upkeep so the stickers stayed. School proms are awesome in this thing, I get paid to show off.

When I bought Near Lee I did think about keeping him for a while and changing to the Charger that I wanted, but have since changed my mind because. a) This car is simply too good to get rid of. b) At recent shows I have noticed how common 68-70 Chargers are, they are everywhere. c) This is quite possibly the only 1970 Plymouth Sport Satellite in the country, so it is very rare indeed.

In July I ran “Near Lee” down the quarter mile as Santa pod, with a best time of 16.7sec., at 81mph. For a 2.5 tonne car with a fairly standard engine I was quite impressed. But unfortunately while I was there I contracted the fatal “Quarter Mile Bug”. This is a condition that leaves you with a craving for more power and lower times, and sadly has no cure. The symptoms are starting to show already. I have already removed the heavy mechanical radiator fan and replaced it with two electrical ones. And I also have a Competition Camshaft, Valve Springs, Retainers, Timing Gear, Four Branch Exhaust Manifolds or “Headers”, a spare pair of rear wheels fitted with Hoosier Quick Time racing tyres and some shiny rocker covers waiting to be fitted.

If anyone is tempted to buy a yank don’t be put off by all the “expensive to run” or “hard to get bits for” stories because they’re all rubbish. Parts for this car are easier to find, are more readily available and most are cheaper (even when they come from the US and I have to pay the dreaded Import Duty) than parts for most of my UK cars, and I also find that parts coming from the US get to me quicker (figure that one out). And as for poor fuel consumption, yes the huge 7 litre monsters are going to do gallons to the mile, but my 5.2 will return 20-25mpg if you drive it sensibly. If you drive it like you stole it you get about 10-12mpg but my god its good fun, and that 10-12mpg is worth it just for the noise. Tax is free and even though I have only had my licence back from a ban since 24/06/05, the insurance is about £200 a year fully comp (full European cover with breakdown and public display cover).

Over the winter I am pulling the engine out to fit the performance parts I have and I will also replace the bottom end bearings and fit a High Capacity Oil Pump while I’m there. When I am done I will follow this up with more pictures to illustrate my moments of joy, madness and frustration. Until then enjoy the Photo’s."

"If you are interested rested in Hiring the "Near Lee" for a special occasion, please feel free to PM or call me on 07875 059370 and I will be happy to help."


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2 Responses to “Englands answer to the General Lee”

  1. wigguy1 says:

    What did you end up using for exhaust pipes.I met a guy 30 years ago with a 318 challenger. He changed to a 4 barrel carb, small step up cam and headers with 3in. pipes. It ran with 440s in the 1/4. He said lack of ci only showed in longer topend races. Your car is great good luck.

  2. wigguy1 says:

    One more thing, I came across Nevada in a 63 Plymouth 318 at 119 mph(on speedo) and got 19 and 20 mpg. I was going home on leave from the navy and it was before Nevada had a speed limit. That was all she’d do and it was one of the best drives of my life. Only slowed down for other cars and towns.

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