Cool Car Find: 1974 Plymouth Scamp

This 1974 Plymouth Scamp came at the end of an era that defined what we love about the muscle car today. 

As American as Apple Pie 

1974 Plymouth Scamp - carsforsale.com
1974 Plymouth Scamp - carsforsale.com

Two doors, two rows, rear-wheel drive, and a powerful V8 engine. Those features all came together to make what we now know as the American muscle car. Throughout its over 70-year history, the muscle car has become a constant in American culture, a fixture in car racing, and what car collectors’ dreams are made of.

The muscle car’s origin goes all the way back to 1949 with the Oldsmobile Rocket 88 and by the 1960s the muscle car was in its prime. American Automakers were waging a war on each other to produce the fastest, most powerful engines at the lowest prices in order to convince the most buyers of their need for speed.

Plymouth had its share of contenders during those years including today’s cool car find, a 1974 Plymouth Scamp. An oftentimes forgotten muscle car, the Scamp would have a short six-year run that had its beginnings in a sister company.

But First, the Dart Swinger 

1969 Dodge Dart Swinger - barnfids.com
1969 Dodge Dart Swinger - barnfids.com

In 1969 Dodge released the Dart Swinger, a sporty version of the Dart that was advertised as a mini muscle car with a ton of performance and sold for $3,000. Built on the A-body platform like the base Dart and Valiant, the Swinger was a small car and its lower weight and smaller body worked to its advantage in performance. The Dart Swinger proved to be a success from its lower end models featuring a Slant 6 engine to its higher end offering with a bigger 340 V8.

Now It’s Plymouth’s Turn 

1974 Plymouth Scamp - carsforsale.com
1974 Plymouth Scamp - carsforsale.com

A sister company to Dodge, Plymouth wanted in on the success, and in 1971 they released their own version of the 2-door hardtop and called it the Plymouth Scamp. In its freshman year, the Plymouth Scamp was associated with the Plymouth Valiant.

The Valiant was a solid foundation car for Plymouth and this association helped the public to see the Scamp as a more established car rather than a new one. Plymouth even put “Valiant” above the Scamp logo on the ’71 models to help solidify the relationship between the two.

The Scamp was marketed to the more conservative buyer who wanted a more compact, sporty-looking two-door car. It was only available as a hardtop coupe and a convertible model was never offered. Like many other Chrysler vehicles, all models of the Scamp were based on the A-body platform.

1974 Plymouth Scamp - carsforsale.com
1974 Plymouth Scamp - carsforsale.com

These cars were built on a sub-frame design rather than a full ladder frame, with one at the front of the car and one at the rear. Other Chryslers on the A-body were the Dodge Dart, Dodge Dart Sport, Dodge Dart Swinger, Dodge Demon, Plymouth Duster, and Plymouth Valiant.

When looking for parts to restore a Plymouth Scamp, you may be able to find them on any of these cars. Our article, How to Find Vintage Car Parts, can also point you in the right direction on your restoration journey.

The Scamp had only two engine options: a 225 in-line Slant-Six and the 318 V8. Those engines were paired with a 3-speed automatic transmission on most Scamps, but a small amount of four-speed manual Scamps were offered, making those a rare find today.

The End of an Era 

1974 Plymouth Scamp - carsforsale.com
1974 Plymouth Scamp - carsforsale.com

The Plymouth Scamp had a short run and 1976 would be its last model year. The entire muscle car industry was hit hard by several factors in the early 70s that would forever change this iconic segment.

Rising fuel costs due to the American Oil Crisis, the Clean Air Act, and increased insurance costs made it more and more difficult for automakers to produce the muscle cars Americans had come to love at an affordable price. The Scamp was no exception, and it wasn’t fuel-efficient enough to stay alive amidst those obstacles and all Plymouth sales started to decline.

Our Cool Car Find Example 

1974 Plymouth Scamp - carsforsale.com
1974 Plymouth Scamp - carsforsale.com

Towards the end of its run, the Scamp received some notable changes. For the 1974 model, the rear of the Scamp was redesigned by moving the taillights up above the bumper. Electronic ignition also became available that year.

Today’s Cool Car Find Example is a 1974 Plymouth Scamp, an affordable classic muscle car that is well maintained and very reliable. Under the hood you’ll find a 318 V8 engine with less than 100K miles and paired with a 3-speed automatic transmission. A true gem from an era rich in muscle car history, this ’74 Scamp would be a great addition to any muscle car collection.

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Ben Hill

Ben Hill grew up seeing his neighbor restore classic MG cars. Soon, Ben was building his own model cars. Then, in high school, he started restoring early model Ford Mustangs. The combination of art and science is what first drew Ben to the automotive industry. He appreciates the engineering and aesthetics of a well-designed vehicle. Ben earned writing recognition as a Kentucky Young Author of the Year. Today, he uses his bachelor of arts degree from Furman University, writing car reviews, comparisons, and about automotive financing.

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