Just Do It
Mopar Muscle|March 2020
KENT NELSON SAVED THIS BELVEDERE II FROM CERTAIN DEATH
Richard Prince

Kent Nelson has been a loyal Mopar enthusiast since day one, so it’s no surprise that a friend and coworker thought he was the right person to save a forlorn 1965 Plymouth Belvedere II that had been sitting in a field, sinking into the ground, for many years.

“This was back in 1989,” recounts Kent, “and I told him that I didn’t have money for another car, but he insisted that I take a look at it and gave me directions to where it was. I drove out west of town and there it was, in the middle of a field.”

Despite the car’s sad state, Kent immediately fell in love with its roofline and asked how much it would take to buy the car. To his surprise, the friend said he could have it for free, minus the engine, transmission, and rearend that were in it.

“The engine was a 230-horsepower Poly 318, with a three-speed manual transmission and a tapered-axle rearend from an earlier B-body, and none of this was of interest to me anyway,” explains Kent, “so the deal was done, and I pulled the diamond in the rough out of the frozen ground and dragged it home with help from some friends.”

Kent put the car into storage after getting it home, where it remained for the next couple of years. When he finally got an urge to get the car back on the road, he began hunting down the various parts that it needed. Somewhat miraculously, he managed to find good 1965 Belvedere quarter panels in a salvage yard, but they were from a four-door so he had to modify them to fit his two-door body. He also sourced a good fender to replace his badly damaged one, fixed a few small dents, and “threw a quick paint job on it.”

Once he finished the body rehab and paint, Kent added a roll cage and then went to work on the mechanics. He installed a nitrous-injected 426 wedge, a 727 automatic, and a Dana 60 rear fitted with 4.56:1 gear, then he went racing on the street and strip. The car was a lot of fun, but over time Kent drove it less and less, usually opting instead to use his completely restored 1974 Road Runner, which is the first car he ever owned. The Road Runner was far more streetable compared to the Belvedere, and more appropriate for car shows owing to its pristine condition.

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