Fury an at­trac­tive car from 1966

Tillsonburg News - - LOCAL - PETER EPP

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.

PETER EPP PhOTO

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.

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