Fury an attractive car from 1966
Plymouth’s full-size car line underwent a bit of a revolution in the mid-1950s when its most expensive model, the Belvedere, issued a Fury sub-series.
At the time, the full-size Plymouth was offered in three variations, all of them named for hotels – the most expensive Belvedere, the mid-priced Savoy and the low-end Plaza. Plymouth owners could stock and price their new car accordingly with different levels of trim and options.
The special edition Fury, introduced for 1956, was a nod to an emerging trend within the automotive industry, that of upping the ante with extra chrome and performance. In the case of Fury, it was offered only as a two-door hardtop coupe and featured a 318-cubic-inch engine. The car was nicely appointed and attractive, and sales were such that Chrysler Corporation was encouraged to continue with the Fury sub-series in 1957 and 1958.
Fury became its own line, however, in 1959 and was offered in two-door, four-door, convertible and station wagon variations. Belvedere became a lower-priced car, and Savoy the cheapest.
By that time, Plymouth was in a dogfight with Ford and Chevrolet, whose cars were considered the value leaders for the American industry. By 1960, the three companies had their warriors lined up: Chevrolet with its Impala, Belair and Biscayne line; Ford with its Galaxie; and Plymouth with its Fury, Belvedere and Savoy.
These were rocky years for Plymouth and for Chrysler Corporation, which was undergoing some drastic changes. The corporation dropped DeSoto in late 1960, and the loss of DeSoto affected the dealer network which had to be re-aligned.
There was also some quirky styling from Virgil Exner, who had successfully turned Detroit on its ear in 1955 with his Forward Look. By 1957, Chrysler had the most stylish cars in North America, but any advantage Exner had gained on behalf of Chrysler was squandered in 1959 and ‘60 with designs that were less than stellar and – arguably –- outlandish.
Exner was eventually shown the door and his replacement was Elwood Engel, a Ford man who had designed the 1958 Thunderbird and then the superb-looking 1961 Lincoln Continental. Engel’s straight lines and conservative stance would soon become apparent over at Chrysler Corporation, and by 1965 the company’s stable of cars were looking more handsome than they had in years.
Among them were the full-size Plymouths, which were trying to emulate the full-size Chevrolet line with carefully-priced and strategically equipped cars to match the top-line Impala, the midpriced Belair and the value-priced Biscayne. The new Plymouths were called, in descending order of price and equipment, Fury III, Fury II and Fury I. Their sales numbers never matched that of Chevrolet’s, or of Ford’s, but the handsome-looking Plymouths brought much-needed stability to the line, which had even been losing its sales advantage to GM’s aggressive Pontiac and Buick divisions.
The new Plymouths were elegantly-designed for 1965 and featured stacked headlights, an attractive tail light package, and attractive markings on the side. The Fury was a pleasant-looking vehicle that offended few sensibilities and looked as attractively mainstream as an Impala or Galaxie.
The Fury family of cars represented a big tent of opportunity and choice for the consumer. Available was a four-door hardtop, four-door sedan, two-door hardtop, two-door sedan, four-door station wagon and a two-door convertible.
Engine choices ranged from a 225-cubic-inch Slant Six engine, to the corporate mainstay V8, the new 318-cubic-inch, or the 426 cubic-inch wedge and Hemi V8, or Chrysler’s enormous 440-cubicinch V8.
Interiors ranged from bare-bone bench seats, no carpet, roll-up windows and standard brakes in the Fury I, to deep carpet, more sounddeadening insulation, luxuriously upholstered seats, air conditioning and power-everything in the Fury III.
Fury sales were such that these full-size Plymouths from the midSixties were quite common in Ontario, even in the GM town in which I was raised (St. Catharines). And they provided durable, reliable and mostly problem-free transportation, too; by the mid-Seventies, when these Furys were a decade old, there were still quite a few of them on the road, and many appeared to be in excellent shape.
Wayne Chisholm of Woodstock owns a pristine 1966 Plymouth Fury I, and his four-door sedan was on display at the Bothwell Old Autos Show this past August.
Only one word can accurately describe Chisholm’s Fury – beautiful. Painted a deep red, his car has no rust, the chrome is immaculate, and the interior so fresh and original that it looks as though it hasn’t aged a day since it was purchased new in Kitchener almost 50 years ago.
His Fury was the cheapest of the three Furys. It is the Fury 1, and as such it is powered by the standard engine, a 225-cubic-inch Slant Six. But whoever purchased the Fury I at Jackson Motors in 1965 or 1966 didn’t mind paying a bit more for some options. According to the original sticker still attached to the car, the Fury I had a base price of $2,920, but sold for $3,674 before provincial taxes, which in the midSixties were about four or five per cent.
Included in the standard price was Chrysler Corporation’s much-revered warranty – a fiveyear, 50,000 miles powertrain warranty.
The Fury I had several options, however. The new owner paid $210 to get the three-speed automatic transmission, and another $95 for a push-button AM radio. Another $30 bought the rear window defogger, and a further $27 purchased fender skirts. The Fury I was also optioned with a Prismatic inside mirror ($5), an electric clock ($20), stainless steel upper door frame mouldings ($24), stainless steel door-edge protectors ($8), full wheel covers ($25) and whitewalls ($35).
The subtotal for the new Fury I was $3,399, but freight ($250) and a pre-delivery inspection ($25) pushed the pre-tax price up to $3,674.
For that sum, one might wonder if the buyer could have purchased a new Fury II with many of the same features, including a 318 V8.
At any rate, Chisholm’s Fury is a head-turner. The interior is original and the car was repainted in 2001. The paint still looks new. There are only 29,000 miles on the odometer.
The Plymouth is so appealing because its style and equipment is representative of the mid-Sixties. Writers and others love to wax nostalgic about pony cars and muscle cars from that era, but most people who purchased new cars in 1966 wanted to get from Point A to Point B, and they had families and other responsibilities,
They didn’t have the time or the inclination to cruise up and down the main street of their little town or city on a Saturday night. They wanted substantial and reliable transportation, and a great many chose the Plymouth Fury – just like the one owned by Wayne Chisholm.
Coutts, an Ingersoll resident, was one of four passengers in a truck carrying Tiltwall construction employees to a job site in Simcoe. Ten people were involved but injuries suffered by Coutts were the most severe. He was transferred to Hamilton General Hospital where he underwent immediate brain surgery.
Without the work of first responders on the scene, “he would not be here today,” Coutts’ sister Darlene Woodley said Oct. 31.
“Officers attending and myself were amazed there weren’t multiple fatalities,” Norfolk OPP officer Ed Sanchuk said from the site. “This was a violent crash.”
Knowing her brother has a long road of recovery ahead, Woodley has set up a Go Fund Me page to assist Coutts’ wife, Amanda, and their two children, Mason, 8, and Ariel, 4.
“I think we realized after the second day that Amanda and his kids were going to have bills and mortgage payments and things coming up and like a lot of people they live paycheque to paycheque and perhaps within a few weeks she would be in a lot of trouble,” said Woodley, noting that Amanda is a stay-athome mom.
Woodley acknowledges Amanda can apply for funding from a few different sources but those proposals won’t be processed any time soon.
“In the meantime, she’s up the creek for weeks and weeks,” Woodley said.
As of Oct. 31, the fundraising campaign had accumulated $3,350 for Kevin and Amanda, who wed just three months ago.
“He loved the new job he started at Tiltwall, he’s been there eight or nine months and was totally ecstatic about it,” said Woodley.
They’re not sure if Coutts can hear them but when his family and friends visit the hospital, they provide updates on his beloved Toronto Maple Leafs, but mostly how Amanda and the kids are holding up.
“More than anything he loves his kids and his wife,” Woodley said. “His family is everything he lives for, he’s always been a family guy as long as I can remember. Even as a teenager he was always about my parents and family so that’s always been a huge piece of his life … we use them a lot in conversations to try and get him to keep fighting.”
Woodley said that Coutts is hooked up to a breathing tube while doctors are monitoring the swelling of his brain.
“We don’t know long term how this is going to look, he’s still very much not out of the woods yet,” she added. “Doctors have been very clear things can go either way at this point still.”
Anyone looking to donate can do so at gofundme.com/kevincouttsemergency-relief.
This 1966 Plymouth Fury I was featured at the Old Autos car show in Bothwell in August. The car is near-perfect in its presentation, having been purchased new in Kitchener. The odometer records only 29,000 miles.