Chrysler Corporation products of the early 1970’s embraced more fully than any other brand of car the intergalactic possibilities and fantasies of Science Fiction in the earthbound chariots they offered to consumers. Going from rectilinear boxes of the 1960’s, Chrysler flooded every sight line with bulbous curves with their new Fuselage look for everything above the Valiant and Dart.
First filling the largest shadows with the C-Body full sized line, the 1971 re-skin of the intermediate B-bodies took on a futuristic shape that in all irony, would soon lose market share to a heap of neo-classical tastes.
Where the larger Fuselage Fury and related big bruisers still retailed traces of the traditional 3 box shape as it pushed stylistic boundaries, the Satelitte, and siblings Dodge Coronet and Charger went for wedge shapes and sloping rooflines that were far more daring than anything being offered in the mid-priced field.
With the roof flowing into the rear quarters with no visible “shoulders,” the fuselage mid-sized coupe pushed design language first seen on the 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado and pushed them to hip hugging limits. In the final rounds of the fastback-integral fender craze that blasted off alongside the NASA program in the mid-1960’s, it’s appropriate that the interstellar-ly named Plymouth would take the concept to its highest orbit at a relatively modest price point.
The problem was in the interest in daring boundary breaking that had pushed society and sedans to new leaps and bounds, literally to the moon, started to face a bit of a backlash. Notably, Ford, last to give a go at really modifying their midsizers in this mold played it safe offering a more formal roof’d version of the Torino alongside the Sportsback version. Over at General Motors, the formal roof Monte Carlo, available with fender skirts (!!!!!) fought for showroom space against the prim and proper Malibu Coupe with its own upright greenhouse. Elsewhere, such as in Oldsmobile showrooms, the upright, Formal Cutlass Supreme roof was starting to win more customers compared to the more jubilant Cutlass and Cutlass “S” fastback models.
No one had sincerely expected the brutal formality of the Pontiac Grand Prix to really be as with the times of the Nixon administration when it was reborn just in time for his win at the end of 1968. The shift in styling ethos left many marques scrambling to play catch up.
Unlike Chevrolet and Ford, which had the volume share to field a few options, the Satelitte, in trims base, Sebring and Sebring Plus had to count itself lucky that it didn’t share the bulk of its body with its sedan stablemate. Too much variance on the Coupe version encroached on the Dodge Charger’s territory, stoking the flames of a brand sibling war that had been going on since the end of World War II, if not before.
Underneath it all, if one can believe, were the basic bones that traced their way all the way back to the failed downsized full sized standard Mopars of 1962. Which, when you parse away at things, means these futuristic beasts take their Adam’s rib straight from the 1960 Plymouth Valiant. While GM and Ford were able to tune or isolate their family friendly beasts to the most updated of tastes, these Mopars found themselves precariously close to the problems that plagued AMC in offering something new with yesterdays zippers and stitching.
Of course this meant all of your traditonal mopar goodies like stout V8s or Slant Sixes, Torqueflite Automatics and Torsion-Aire suspension bits. However, the advantages that had been calling cards of Highland Park rides had started to be mastered skillfully by most other brands, notably the roadgoing prowess. The future couldn’t rely on interstellar styling as 34, 353 of these Satellite Sebrings found buyers in 1972. It would take a bit of assimilation into formality to gain more stature for Plymouth’s middle market offerings.