1955 Plymouth BA GT Wagon – Merianne Pharr’s Mopar
We dare you to find a more bitchin station wagon than Merianne Pharr’s 1955 Plymouth BA-GT. Year’s back, Dave Pharr (best known in the rodding community as “Big Poppa”) had been searching for a wagon to build for his wife Merianne. Then one day he was talking with one of his neighbors and mentioned he was looking for a wagon. The neighbor’s eyes lit up because he had a friend who was selling a 1955 Plymouth Plaza Wagon – a stalled project that was started by Dave Hill (a hot rod designer previously associated with Custom Rodder Magazine). Hill was doing a build article on the wagon for Custom Rodder until the magazine folded. Dave moved on and carried the wagon from California to his new residence in Pueblo, CO. Intrigued, Pharr bought the car, sight unseen, over the internet. Wanting it to be a surprise, Pharr told his wife the project he was beginning was “for a friend.”
The wagon was originally delivered to Dennis Sastini, who had helped Dave build his award-winning ’54 Buick custom a couple of years earlier (but most of the wagon was built in Dave’s garage). Dave wanted to keep the car all Mopar and wasn’t interested in an LS swap as many had suggested. So he found a late model, low mileage, HEMI engine and transmission and had it shipped to the bay area where Dennis went to work building motor mounts and a transmission crossmember to support the Hemi. A Fatman Mustang II front clip was bolted into place shoring up the chassis. Air suspension, tanks, and compressors were next on the list followed by a 4-link out back along with a new aluminum driveshaft, 30-gallon fuel tank and new brake lines. They also had to build a new trans tunnel and basically a whole new floor.
While that was happening, Dave went with Street and Performance down in Mena, Arkansas to have a custom wiring harness made. Before they went out of business, Street & Performance were experts in custom wiring harnesses and custom ECM’s for HEMI’s and LS engines. To make the late model Hemi look at home, a completely custom engine bay and air intake system was fabricated.
With the mechanicals solidified and media blasting done, it was time to focus on body and paint. Subtle mods included remaking the rear window posts, modding the bumpers and installing Kindig Designs door handles and ’57 Packard taillights. For prep, Dave sent the wagon to Pepe’s Auto Body in Hayward, California. Working off of a concept drawing by Kristina Albrecht, the wagon was painted Amethyst and Metallic Gold by Color Pros making this two-tone land yacht come to life.
The interior was a labor of love in Dave’s garage. Door panels, the dash, the sound system and more were all done in-house before Stitch on Wheels sewed it all up in camel and purple leather. For good measure, leopard print floor mats were laid down giving it even more texture.
The project was completed in the summer of 2015. It looks just as fresh today as it did then and is driven all over the Bay Area to big and small car shows. Since this wagon was now Merianne’s “Baby” some of her friends gave her a baby shower when the car was buttoned up. We have never heard of a baby shower for a car but we dig it!
The week before the Goodguys West Coast Nationals in the summer of ‘15, the Pharr’s drove the wagon to a local Fremont car show with about 80 hot rods, and the wagon won the “People’s Choice” and “Best of Show” awards. At the West Coast Nationals, the wagon won the “Homebuilt Heaven” award sponsored by Speedway Motors. Gary Meadors himself had a hand in picking the car. It continues to win awards today.
Merianne & Dave are very grateful to their sponsors and partners on the build including California Car Cover, CON2R, Dakota Digital (Universal Recessed Oval Analog Gauge Kit, Flowmaster, Inland Empire Drivetrain, Ididit Inc., LOKAR Performance Products, Meyers Sandblasting, RedLine LumTroniX – Halo Headlights, Sanderson Headers, and Specialty Power Window and Wipers.
About the car’s Plymouth BA-GT nomenclature? It stands for Bad Ass – Grand Touring. We wholeheartedly agree!