(first posted 6/29/2013)
My ‘57 Chevy had developed an inordinate thirst for oil to the point of appearing to be a mobile fumigation unit. Time to go, so when my parents returned to the US from France for home leave, it was like I had given my father a gift-we had to look for a “new” used car. Other than his love of ice cream and the Red Sox, there was nothing he liked better than shopping for and buying (or selling) used cars.
And here we had a challenge. Our budget was $300. Even in 1967 that was not going to get you a whole lot of car. We had our job cut out for us.
The Fury in this shot and two others was taken on the campus of Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT). The edifice in the background was the womens’ dorm.
We thought that we had identified a suitable candidate from the same source that the ‘57 Chevy had come from, my dad’s friend from Lowell, MA who owned Miller Mobil on Bridge St. But when we went to inspect this new find, I was horrified to see that it was a pickle green 1959 Chevy Impala 4 dr hardtop. All kinds of problems with this. I was in design school fer chrissakes, how could I drive a joke like this with a straight face? I couldn’t. Luckily there were more serious problems than the bat shiat styling and green paint. The 235 six in the thing burned nearly as much oil as my ‘57.
I went looking in Old Car Brochures.com, and guess what I found? The identical car my dad and I were presented with. Except without the orgasmic blond. Steven Lang was right about the green. No deal. Back to square one.
We finally found our dream car, a 1960 Plymouth Fury 4 dr hardtop, 318 V8 with a TorqFlite and 65,000 miles. Power steering and AM radio. In 1967 this was a USED CAR! 1400 Motors in Lowell wanted $400. They gave us $100 for trade in on the ‘57 Chev, and even swapped the nearly new tires I had on the ‘57 onto the Plymouth. It blew a heater hose in Ontario on our way to Illinois. No problem. Route the hose back to the engine-who needs a heater in the summer?
I didn’t have any money for hot rodding the Fury, except for a screwdriver to remove the gold anodized emblem on the grille, and flat black paint for the grille and wheels. Even back then I was a NASCAR fan and the esthetics those racers espoused. The Fury only weighed 3300 pounds, and the 318 would light up the baloney skins when asked. It topped out (empirically tested) at about 104 mph.
Once we got the Plymouth to Aledo, IL and my uncle’s tire shop, we discovered that both rear springs needed rebuilding. Out to Henderson’s junkyard on the east side of town where we had our pick of Chrysler leaf springs for two or three bucks apiece. Boy, what a difference the beefed up springs made! I was really starting to like this ride. And look at this-no toilet seat! The rear end styling was rather clean.
Yes, this thing was way too long for urban duty in Chicago, but those huge fins in the back made it incredibly easy to park (especially with Chrysler no effort/no feel power steering), and the Fury’s unit body remained tight and squeak-free to the end, which occurred at about 130,000 miles. By that time, in 1971, tin worms had done their job, and Connecticut said “no body penetrations”, of which I had numerous, so I couldn’t register it there without spending beaucoup bucks. So it was with some sadness, but not a lot, that I drove it to LaJoie’s junkyard in South Norwalk, CT. I got $5 for it.
During the time I had the Fury my parents had a 1965 Simca 1000, sort of the polar opposite of the Fury. The Simca was perfect for Paris and environs, but I couldn’t help but feel guilty while zipping about in the Simca that I really was an imposter-my real car was a 1960 Plymouth! The Fury would have looked ridiculous in France, and the Mille, judging by sales, wasn’t a huge hit in the US. A chaque a son gout.
Felicia Fury, as my friends had dubbed her, was a great car. $300 for four year’s use and it never let me down on the road. It made numerous trips from Chicago to the east coast and to Texas. When I drove a stake through her heart, the engine and drive line were in perfect shape despite numerous and repeated slam shifts with the push button auto. Nothing but good memories.