Plymouth from the 1931 model year through the 1960 model year during most years was the number three automaker in the U.S. when it came to sales. For 1970, 1971, and 1974 Plymouth would again regain its title as number three but after that Plymouth would see a great sales slide which would later lead to its final demise at the end of the 2001 model year. It was during the glory years of 1957-1959, that Plymouth produced one of its most iconic cars – the Fury. It was a car that the other automakers envied and copied.
When the Chrysler Corporation released its 1957 full-size car lineup, its Chrysler, Dodge, DeSoto, and Imperial models received much praise however it was the full-size 1957 Plymouth models that had new car buyers mesmerized, and the competition envious. The full-size 1957 Plymouth models were so far ahead of their time that Plymouth had an ad slogan for 1957 called “Suddenly it’s 1960!” – it was a slogan even its competitors believed. GM would copy the low, wide, long, and overall futuristic styling theme of the 1957 Plymouths in its 1959 model year offerings and Ford would do the same in 1960. The 1957 Plymouths had such a design advantage, that both GM and Ford felt they were caught napping. The 1957 Chevrolet may be an icon today but back in 1957, its styling was considered outdated compared to the beautiful styling of the full-size 1957 Plymouth offerings. However the car model that defined the 1957-1959 era for Plymouth was its Plymouth Fury. Even though there were very mild exterior design changes from year-to-year, overall the styling of the 1957-1959 Fury consisted of 4 round headlamps which had eyebrows over them and tall vertical tail fins. The 1959 Fury had a “M” pattern curve over the headlights and there was a new available horizontal tire bulge on the rear trunk panel which gave the 1959 Fury a upscale Chrysler look.
For 1957 and 1958, the Fury was officially called the Belvedere Fury, it was Plymouth’s flagship performance car that was only available in a 2-door hardtop or 2-door convertible. The Belvedere Fury first debuted for the 1956 model year. Unknown to many the 1956 Fury was only available in a white exterior color with gold trim and accents, the 1957 Fury was only available in a light beige exterior color with gold trim and accents, and the 1958 Fury was only available in a slightly darker beige exterior color with gold accents and trim. In other words the red 1958 Fury showcased in the 1983 film “Christine” wasn’t original, it had a custom paint job.
It was the 1959 model year when the Fury officially became its own model and was no longer the Belvedere Fury. With this change different exterior colors were now available but this came at a cost, the Fury became more pedestrian since it was now available in wide array of body styles: a 4-door sedan, 4-door hardtop, 2-door sedan, 2-door hardtop, and 2-door convertible. However Plymouth did offer a luxury performance oriented version of the Fury for 1959 which it called the Sport Fury that was only available in a 2-door hardtop or 2-door convertible.
The 1957-1959 Fury’s performance on the average was superior to its competition. For 1957 and 1958, the Fury had a 290 gross horsepower 318 cubic-inch V8 which had dual 4-barrel carburetors as its induction system. Plymouth’s marketing department referred to it as the V800 engine. Worth noting this was Chrysler’s A-Series small-block 318 V8 not Chrysler’s more modern LA-series small-block 318 V8. Available as an option in the 1958 Fury was a 305 gross horsepower B-series big-block 350 cubic-inch V8 with dual 4-barrel carburetors. Also optional in 1958 was a 315 gross horsepower Bendix fuel-injected version of the 350 V8, unfortunately it was plagued with problems. For 1959 the Fury was available with a 230 gross horsepower 318 V8, a 260 gross horsepower 318 V8, or a 305 gross horsepower B-series 361 cubic-inch V8. To get an idea of the Fury’s performance a 1957 and 1958 dual 4-barrel carbureted 318 powered Plymouth Fury went 0-60 mph in 8.7 seconds. As tested by Motor Trend magazine back in the day a 1958 Fury equipped with the optional dual 4-barrel carbureted B-series 350 went 0-60 mph in 7.7 seconds. These performance times were a lot faster than the competition back then, most cars from this era took well over 10 seconds to go 0-60 mph. To compliment the great acceleration, the Fury’s braking and handling were among the best you were going to find in a large car during this time period.
The 1957-1959 Fury could be equipped with a 3-speed manual transmission or Chrysler’s TorqueFlite 3-speed automatic transmission which had dash mounted push buttons to change gears. For 1959 the Fury was also available with the 2-speed PowerFlite automatic transmission and the a 4-speed manual transmission. Plymouth did a great job with the 1957-1959 Fury’s interior. It was modern and yet also elegant. For 1959, the big news was front swivel seats were now available in the Fury.
There are some that will say the 1957-1959 Fury was the last of its kind. There is some truth to that opinion since the Fury would move from a body-on-frame platform to a uni-body platform for 1960 however, later on the Fury would return to a body-on-frame structure. Additionally never would Plymouth be so far ahead of its competition when it came to styling and performance. The only negative was the 1957-1959 Fury was plagued with some quality control issues and rust issues. Today, 1957-1959 Fury is considered one of the best Plymouth cars ever produced. The high demand for the 1957-1959 Fury today proves this will continue to be the case for many years to come.
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