(Found In) Berkeley Flats (Berkeley, California): 1963 Plymouth Fury Convertible

20464969_10154770123392201_1109620352_oIt’s a miracle Chrysler Corporation survived to see 1965. From the quality disasters of The Forward Look the corporation plunged headfirst into a series of questionable styling ideas that left even loyalists debating whether they were driving the next greatest style sensation or a joke.

By 1963, the Mopar Madness of the last 2 seasons started to fade like a fever dream. Although none of the cars were all-new, they sure looked the part. It was most important at the bottom of the totem pole at Plymouth. The mighty rock had fallen far from its traditional 3rd place in sales last held in 1960. That total only held weight once you factored in Valiant sales. To the bread and butter basic big Plymouth, it found itself emerging from the Chevrolet market missile crisis of ’62 in a brand new suit.

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(Found In) McClymonds (Oakland, California): 1972 Plymouth Satellite Sebring 2 Door Hardtop Coupe

IMG_8449Chrysler 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.

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(Found In) Lone Mountain (San Francisco): 1960 Plymouth Fury Convertible

img_4850We’ve mused before about the 1960 Plymouth, and the future it found itself in not being as kind as its forebearers had promised it in the Fall of ’56.  Plymouth had a hard time moving on from its miserly image in general, with Dodge prominently powerful as a more premium player in the makings of Mopar at the turn of the decade.

Nevertheless, Plymouth was to offer a glamorous convertible, as expected by all of the Low-Priced Three as a traditional halo model. 1960 would be no different for Plymouth, as they rivaled Chevrolet for the most flamboyant offering for 1960 for the smallest of open top budgets.

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(Found In) South Berkeley (Berkeley, California): 1961 Plymouth Fury Four Door Hardtop Sedan

image-46There’s perhaps no bigger surprise underdog that early 1960’s full sized Plymouths. Due to a number of factors, especially from 1960 through 1962, the Big Bargain Basement Mopars found themselves not only at odds with their traditional market segment. They found displeasure among Mopar loyalists as well.

While the 1960 and 1962 versions get their fair share of flack, most of the mockery goes to the rather galactic looking 1961 versions of Savoy, Belvedere and Fury. How did this Extra-Terrestrial get let out of Area 51 to convince Highland Park executives that it was just the Science Fiction fantasy that America wanted during the Camelot years? It’s a peculiar question to ask.

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(Found In) Polk Gulch (San Francisco, California): 1969 Plymouth Fury III Convertible

imageDespite efforts to be a constant trendsetter, Plymouth proved itself to be an also-ran brand in the 1960’s. Always in the shadows of market competitors Chevrolet and Ford, Plymouth also had to fend for territory from not too costly sibling brand Dodge. Seemingly, whatever Plymouth had, Dodge wanted too. Without the customer base of Chevrolet, or the marketplace freedom of Ford, Plymouth was oft-left to itself to provide a narrow bandwith of consumer desires.

While this benefitted the skinflint image of the price-leading Valiant, it didn’t exactly do wonders for fancier wares that carried the Plymouth prestige parade. The Fury nameplate started out in the same league as the Chevrolet Impala in prestige in 1956. A Jupiter Return later, it was more or less a bargain stage brand, in 1, 2 and 3 strengths (each a little less despair provoking than the last). How does that translate to sales when this formula encapsulates a full sized convertible?
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(Found In) Golden Gate Park (San Francisco, California): 1962 Plymouth Fury Four Door Sedan

image (13) You shouldn’t believe everything you hear over dinner party chatter. Especially when you’re already on the ropes with your business. Chrysler Corporation seemed perpetually going just askew of where buyers wanted for a good portion of the Post-war era.

First the boxy post-war efforts, then the lack of an Automatic transmission, then the quality debacles of The Forward Look to some rather interstellar looking land based transit as the decade clock ticked over into the 60’s, it was a surprise that Highland Park found buyers for their wares. Yet another goof greeted them for 1962.
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(Found In) McClymonds (Oakland, California): 1949 Plymouth Special Deluxe 4 Door Sedan

12713943_10153300656617201_1397644997_n Once upon a time, the low priced Three automobiles stood securely in their respective reputations. Each brought a unique motoring experience reflective of the corporate philosophy that spurred their development. At the end of the World War, Ford, Chevrolet and Plymouth still held steadfast to policies dictated to them ever since they carved out the bottom of the market for the Big 3 automakers.

Things started to change as each rolled out their all-new wares after the war. Where Ford and Chevrolet emphasized style and power, Plymouth advocated for sturdy solidarity and practicality. The spirit of Spinsters that would focus around Plymouth Valiants in the 60’s was an alive and well current at Plymouth seemingly forever.
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(Found In) West Berkeley (Berkeley, California): 1967 Plymouth Sport Fury Convertible

23103158215_cfa935d04f_h In actuality, the Plymouth Fury was the first fearsome Full-Sizer among the Low Priced Three. Plymouth’s Super Sports Coupe debuted as one of the 4 Mopar Super Coupes in 1956, 2 seasons ahead of Chevrolet’s Impala. In addition, the Fury right away asserted itself as performance focused first, with the first 3 seasons dedicated to exclusive coupes with top tier powertrains.

The Sport Fury designation came along in 1959, again, 2 years ahead of the Impala SS. Despite always being ahead of its General Motors rival, the Plymouth’s actual emphasis on go to go along with the show often left it in the shadows of its crosstown rival.
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(Found In) Downtown/City Center Plaza (Oakland, CA): 1968 Plymouth Valiant Signet 2 Door Sedan

12167370_10153094429002201_114606198_n (1)American buyers have always appreciated a reliable “appliance” car. More often than not, Plymouth provided safe and sane reliable transportation as their bread and butter. Perhaps the most refined expression of the wholesome “Peanut Butter and Wheat Germ Sandwich” expression of Plymouth values was the 3rd Generation Plymouth Valiant sold from 1967 through 1976.

For such a humble car, few automobiles have been admired for their all around staid status the way Plymouth Valiants (and to a lesser degree their sister car the Dodge Dart) are. The official ride of High School Chemistry Teachers and Lesbian Librarians of the 1960’s can still be seen in locales that don’t encourage rust to rise on their quarter panels nearly 50 years later.

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(Found In) Bushrod (Oakland, California): 1960 Plymouth Fury Four Door Hardtop Sedan

11868828_10152984250132201_2126147494_n
Sometimes you get so far ahead of the curve that you’re blind to your own turns. This is precisely the predicament that Highland Park found themselves in with their Forward Look cars at the turn of the decade.

Plymouth in particular had screamed from every stage that Suddenly, It’s 1960! in the fall of 1956. So what were they to do when it actually made it to 1960? Apparently the solution was to offer a brand new Uni-Body shell and soon to be legendary 6 cylinder powerplant in an updated wrapper of what warped the automotive Space-Time continuum 3 seasons earlier.

Bedazzled and befinned, we have the 1960 Plymouth looking to the recent past as it plugged from the Space Age to the Camelot years.

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