Curbside Classic: 1973 Plymouth Fury III – An Ode to an Avocado Fury

IMG_3411

(This was inspired by a comment from 1964bler, a man with whom I’ve had a delightful conversation on Checker build quality.)

It’s September 26, 1972.  You have just had your first child and your other half has announced that carrying a baby around in the Barracuda is simply not going to happen.  Stylish and trendy Mopar fan boy that you are, you promptly head to the Plymouth dealer to make Momma happy.  The dealership is flush with examples of all the new 1973 model Plymouths; this is the day of introduction for the new 1973 models.

1973 Chrysler-Plymouth Brochure-22

Wanting to shift gears into fatherhood, without totally over-reacting, you decide to skip any wagon for now – and hopefully forever.

1973 Chrysler-Plymouth Brochure-07

Looking at the Valiant four-door sedan, you aren’t so sure that will fill the ticket.  It strikes you as rather dowdy and this won’t mesh with your aura of sophistication.  It’s great for grandma and grandpa to drive when going to see the grandkids, but not for a young, virile guy.  Keep looking.

1973 Chrysler-Plymouth Brochure-13

The mid-size Satellite intrigues you, but the car angels aren’t singing.  With a baby here, and likely more on the way, there will be a lot of baby related items to haul around so you figure, what the hell?  Let’s go big or go home.

1973 Chrysler-Plymouth Brochure-18

This is the ticket!  Large and in charge.  Lots of room to haul the baby paraphernalia and you realize the car angels are smiling upon you.  The dealer has three new ones in stock; all are in a color that looks more at home with that recently concluded soiree in Munich.  This isn’t the Olympics, so no gold for you.

1973 Plymouth Fury-20

The dealer has offered to order you a car; he said the turnaround time is pretty quick right now.  Looking at the color sheet, you are amazed.  Seventeen different colors!  That’s a color for almost every digit on that new baby.  In your profound state of amazement, you don’t realize the amount of overlap with three golds, four blues, and four greens.  You are a dapper and charming fellow; nothing other than “Amber Sherwood” will do.  You decide to order one.

Looking at the option sheet makes you almost as excited as that quick reprieve from your in-laws dinner party which you suspicion indirectly led to your being here.  Well, maybe excited isn’t the best word to describe it, but it’s pretty darned wonderful to look at the cornucopia of possibilities.  Thinking about it you order:

IMG_3419

The green interior.  It matches the exterior so wonderfully.  It’s 1972 and nothing says suave and debonair quite like green.  All the critics agree that green is a reflection of keen intelligence and shrewd risk taking.  You tell the salesman to check the box.

1973 Plymouth Fury-08

What lies under the hood is truly the heart and soul of any automobile.  For 1973, Chrysler has made the 318 standard fare (as well as front disc brakes) for the Fury.  Looking at the option sheet, you marvel in how well spaced Chrysler has their engine displacements – 318, 360, 400, and 440 cubic inches.

Gasoline is cheap so you enthusiastically declare your desire for the 440.  You need something to propel your 3,800 pound sedan with authority.  Little do you know that Road and Track would soon be testing a very comparable Dodge Polara; it would accelerate to 60 mph in 7.7 seconds, equal to a new AMC Javelin AMX and a 455 powered Pontiac Grand Prix, all while doing the quarter-mile faster than the Pontiac.  Your shrewd choices will pay dividends for years to come.

IMG_3418

The trim you choose is the Fury III.  Perhaps Plymouth was less creative by naming their series Fury I, Fury II, Fury III, and Fury Gran Sedan, but it appeals to your sense of order more than does Biscayne, Bel-Air, Impala, and Caprice.

After a few weeks, your new steed arrives at the dealership.  Upon arriving with the Mrs. and your new progeny, the sales staff is watching a promotional film by Chrysler.  You catch enough of it to agree that your new Plymouth wears its new federally mandated bumpers much better than does the Ford Galaxie or Chevrolet Impala.

IMG_3412

When your new car is wheeled around to the front, you present your bride with your new car.  Upon seeing it, she exclaims “Avocado Green!  My favorite.  Oh, you are so wonderful, honey!”  She then looks at you with the same sparkle in her eye that she had at that epic dinner party.  Life is good.

Upon your buxom bride entering the Fury, she gushes even more about how wise you are to get green for the interior.  After a few moments, your wife has an admission.  “Honey, the car looks a little bulbous on its backside.  Do you like it?”


IMG_3410

Yes, you admit, you have noticed it does have some pronounced hips and creases, but while it won’t win any beauty contests, there is something about it you find intriguing with a certain inexplicable charm.  Your wife is okay with this; you married her for a reason, did you not?

Proud of your new car, you and your family take it to see your in-laws.  Upon pulling into the driveway, your father-in-law walks outside.  He flicks away his cigarette and says, “What the hell is that?  It looks like an Imperial cross-pollinated with a ’70 Oldsmobile.  Did you actually look for anything else?”

1971 Chevrolet-10

You retort: “I looked at as many different makes as you did when you bought that Impala last year.”

Smiling, your father-in-law responds.  “Touché.”

IMG_3417

Upon your wife taking the baby into the house, you offer your father-in-law a ride.  You slowly back out of the driveway.  Dropping the gear selector into low, you romp the throttle and promptly lay two black marks on the street in front of his house.

As he regains his composure, he sullenly asks “440?”  That new Polara will top out at around 129 miles per hour, five more than does a 455 powered Pontiac Trans Am; your Fury should do similar.

1973 fury from pcooa

image source:  www.pcooa.com

Besides, you weren’t exactly clueless when you ordered it.  The boys in blue aren’t dumb, so you knew they had found a hot commodity.  Plymouth didn’t have the bulk of the police car market in the 1970s without ample reason.

As the years unfold, and the babies keep arriving, you soon realize your purchase of a Fury was wise.  It has been a rugged and dependable car for your family.  Yes, you are aware some of them weren’t as solid; the only thing you would change is that infernal green color.  Who would have guessed 98.6% of Fury production in 1973 seemed to be green or gold?  If you had it to do over, you would have chosen Regal Blue or Rallye Red – it wouldn’t have dated your trusty ride quite as badly.

IMG_3414

By 1980, the Fury has wormed its way into your family.  Your firstborn, unable to say “avocado”, called the car “alvie” in 1975.  The name has stuck.  Alvie is as much a part of your family as is any of the children.

As a teenager, your youngest son took a special shining to Alvie.  Moving onto a different newer and more economical car, you let your son informally take over the care and supervision of Alvie.  Your wife was aghast at the wheels he put on the old girl, but as you told your wife, old ladies do need a pair of spiffy shoes.  It’s no fun sliding into the doldrums.

IMG_3421

A few years after your youngest son puts those gaudy shoes on Alvie, he moves away to college.  Soon thereafter Alvie develops a disconcerting knock under the hood.  You haven’t the time or skill to give Alvie the treatment she requires.  In a completely rash move, you part ways with Alvie, a move you quickly regret.  Your wife and children are all furious.

Alvie is now looking for a new home.  While she has been mechanically rehabilitated, she is now parked in the back of a used car lot partially occluded from the highway.  For such a loyal and trusty friend, poor Alvie deserves a better reward in her twilight years.

IMG_3415