Milestones: 1978 Plymouth Arrow GT and a Story.

April 11, 2014

This is an incredibly special post for me.

My wife Jaime and I have spent the past two and a half years gut-renovating our first home. It's been a massively consuming project, to the detriment of everything else in our lives, including this blog. I owe Ben a huge debt of gratitude for holding down the fort during my prolonged slackitude.

Last weekend, we were preparing to close on the sale of the house. With just a few days left before we were scheduled to hand over keys to the buyers, we still had a mile-long to-do list, including getting moved out, tending to numerous outstanding maintenance issues, touching up paint, and on and on and on. On top of all that, Jaime had to cover for her co-worker who was out on vacation, I was on triple deadline at work, and our childcare had become completely unreliable. Every waking minute was charged with frantic desperation. I let Ben know that my computer was packed and that I wouldn't be posting until we were set up at our new place.

I was rushing to make a deposit before the bank closed and buy carbon monoxide detectors at Home Depot when I caught a fleeting glimpse of this car driving through a grocery-store parking lot. I didn't get a clear enough view to identify it, but I knew it was something crazy that I'd never seen before, and I knew that after we moved across town, I'd never have the chance to photograph it again. So against my better judgment, I flipped a U-turn in front of oncoming traffic, snaked my way into the parking lot, and began tailing the car. A Plymouth Arrow is rare enough, but an MCA Jet GT??? What does that even mean? And those graphics! I had no idea such a thing existed.

The car pulled out onto the main road and headed north — the opposite direction of my errands.

Like a crazy stalker, I pulled alongside and rolled down my window. When the driver turned her head, I flashed a five-dollar bill and my camera. I shouted over the noise of wind, rain, and traffic, "I want to photograph your car!" She seemed to understand.

A few blocks later, she put on her turn signal and pulled over.

The owner was pleasant and enthusiastic. I think she said her family at one time owned three Arrows in various trims. She told me she is looking forward to detailing it as soon as summer weather arrives. She was happy to stand in the pouring rain talking about cars, and she liked hearing about the blog, but I had to go. I spent just a minute taking photos. She would not accept the $5.

All of that would be enough for a story worth telling, but here's the kicker: She parked in front of my house.

To understand the significance of these photos, check out these shots Ben took of my truck two years ago. In the background, you'll see the house in its earliest stages of restoration: blue paint, white primer, painted front door, wrought-iron pillars, no landscaping, windows covered in plastic...

And now that project is complete.

So not only did I score an amazing Old Parked Car and a wonderful car-spotting story — I get to share with all of you readers a personal glimpse into one of the most climactic moments of my life.

(You may have noticed our home renovation blog, Homing Missile, in the sidebar. I'm looking forward to wrapping up that project in the coming months, now that I'm not dealing with construction tasks every evening and weekend. I'm saving the exterior before-and-afters for the very end, but you've just gotten a sneak peak. Not that I assume you care.)

We closed on the sale last Friday. This is my first blog post written from the comfort of our new home.

1978 Plymouth Arrow GT
1978 Plymouth Arrow GT
1978 Plymouth Arrow GT MCA Jet badge
1978 Plymouth Arrow GT


swiftman007 said...

wow, very nice and rare find!

Frank said...

Great car and great story Tony! I've read Homing Missle and it looks like you have gone through hell and back. It is hard to recognize the house, you guys did great! On a side note, do you still drive that old toyota truck? If yes, I passed you a few weeks ago on a Thursday a little after 5pm on the old Portland Hwy/Hwy 30 heading east. The truck was driving slow in the left lane, like 30-40 mph. If that was you, I say hello and hope the truck is able to drive highway speeds again!

Anonymous said...


Kudos, kudos, kudos! Great car, great photos, great story, amazing transformation on that house! Wow!

Really a relief to see the blog back up and running. When I continued to see the April 1 blog at the top of the page, day after day, I was heart-sick about what that might mean. I feared the worst, that for some reason I was witnessing the demise of this totally cool blog that I have watched so closely over the last few years. Glad that you are back up and running.

Amazing transformation on that house! Looks amazing!

All be best, sign me -

IsuzuGeek said...

Cool story, awesome car. This thing should be driven down to JCCS 2014.

John D. said...

Ah, the Plymouth Arrow, nice little cars that Chrysler imported from Mitsubishi. It did a couple things. It gave Chrysler a sorely needed 4 cylinder to supplement the Omni/Horizon and it helped give Mitsubishi a foothold in the USA market. I sold a dew of those cars. The GT, as I recall came with a 2.0 liter engine, the base engine was something like 1.8L. The car to have was the Fire Arrow with the 2.6L. It is my understanding that it was the basis of the Conquest/Starion. I always wanted to get one and put a turbo in it, because those things will scream. The Arrow was a very good handling car and fairly comfortable for distance driving. You rarely see them for sale and if you do, most likely, they have had a V8 shoehorned in for drag racing. Japanese steel in the 70's was prone to rusting and the engines loved, no demanded clean oil.

Ben Piff said...

A wonderful read before bed on my first night home from two week community building project in WA. I look forward to pouring over these images again. Thank goodness you documented that badge while it's still in tact! Dead serious.

great white tiburon said...

great story, I had a similar experience where I was driving and low and behold a 39 graham "sharknose" rode up behind me. I tried to get the guy to pull over so I could get some pics, but he needed to get somewhere, so I tailed him at a distance and he stopped at a little car meet. I went to talk to him and he let me get some snapshots of every glorious part of that car.
as far as arrows go, this is pretty high on the awesome find list but one that I have yet to see anywhere on the road is the "arrow jet" version. reddish orange with black stripes and graphics to give it a fighter jet motif. the mca jet was just a small additional intake valve to increase charge swirl for improved combustion and reduced emissions. always thought those little vent windows were so cool. one more I will nominate for "best of 2014".

Justin said...

Amazing story and pictures, great to see you guys back from your hiatus.

SleepyBear said...

Love your blog story and your pictures of Arrows! We have a one-owner 1977 Arrow GT with 35K original miles (husband's first car). Would love to find a good home for it one day.
Keep up the good work and enjoy your new home!

Anonymous said...

Looks inspired by the "John Player Special" racer & Mercury Capri and others. MCA stood for Mitsubishi Clean Air System. NAPZ, was Nissan Anti-Pollution,. Thanks.

Tony Piff said...

@frank: our new place is just past the st johns bridge in linnton, so you definitely saw the opc pickup! i'm happy to report that the truck is still with us. i bought another, newer vehicle, so i don't have to depend on the hilux on a daily basis and can just use it for dump runs and hauling stuff home from ikea. or if i'm just in the mood.

SleepyBear said...

Regarding the Arrow "MCA Jet", I found this on Wiki:
"Sporty exterior finishes were also offered, such as the Arrow Jet package, first offered in 1978. The Arrow Jet paint package was an eye-catching two-tone finish, typically in spit-fire orange and black. The entire car was spit-fire orange, but the entire bottom half of the car was covered in a solid flat black stripe with the words "Arrow Jet" stenciled out of the stripe on the doors so that the underlying body color showed through. This color combination of spit-fire orange and flat black seems to pay tribute to one of the design inspirations for the Plymouth Arrow, that being the Plymouth Barracuda. In 1971, the Barracuda was offered with a "billboard" decal option, which was a large, solid flat black decal that covered the entire back half of the car on both sides (often in a red and flat black color combination)."
Just thought I would pass info on to pin with your photo, since it seems it is kind of rare.

Frank said...

@Tony: Cool! Enjoy Linnton Seed and Feed, what a great store! The trails on this end of Forrest Park are my favorite. Gotta love the Linnton speed trap too!

Anonymous said...

Tony Piff said...

WHOA! this post gives the sticker in the window of this ancient post a whole new meaning.

Alison said...

The 1978 Arrow was my first car!!!! I was 17 It was 1989 and my dad called me at a friends house telling me to come right home he has a car for me. I rushed home and pulled in to my driveway to find a booger green Arrow. OMG, it was ugly!!!!! I hopped in and drove to back to my friends. "The Booger" quickly grew on me and everyone always knew it was me coming. I remember once driving by a doctors office and there was another booger green arrow parked outside. I drove up and parked in the next spot. The family that owned it came out and we were all smiling and laughing. Remember it was 89' and these cars were rare. I still have dreams that I have "The Booger" and its my weekend car to cruise around in.

Alison, New Hampshire

Unknown said...

My name is Chris. I was looking for a part for my moms car when I realized that this is my moms car. She told me the story of the man who is her landlords neighbor who wanted to photograph the car. To make a correction... We had 5 plymouth arrows at one time. Red, blue, white, black and copper. Mom was the only one that was easy on her car and so it remains on the road. On occasion my mom will sing the song..."Me and my Arrow".
Thanks for posting a great story.

Anonymous said...

nice car they are a gem most rusted out but the real deal is the jap mitsubishi Celeste(Plymouth fire arrow for the yanks) which i own 2 of them but 1 is heavy modded (turbo mitsubishi cordia turbo engine(4G62T))
if anybody finds one don't hesitate to ask if they want to sell it
as these are getting very very hard to find let alone running on the road haha

Daryl Partin said...

I had a 1978 GT, it was my papaws car that I got after he passed.I loved that car,it started to rust and I had it redone in solid color.It had louvers on the back window.that thing ran great, it would do one hell of a burnout and get third gear rubber easy!! I've won a many of 4 cylinder drag race with that car!! Great gas mileage, it handled good to!! I would like to find another one! I crashed it one night on way home, it's hard to drive when your asleep!! Lot of memories in that thing!

SleepyBear said...

Wow! Time does fly. We still have that copper 1977 Arrow GT down in the shop/barn. (35k miles) It needs someone who will love it. I really need to get my act together and post some photos. Life just gets in the way of the best made plans.

Dave K said...

Sleepy Bear - where is your barn? Is your Arrow for sale - I am looking -