Welcome to the third and final installment of my search for full-sized American cars from model year 1970 and later with a three-on-the-three manual transmission. For this installment, we will look at Mopar products. Once again, we have some interesting finds and a few surprises along the way.
For 1970, you could get your Plymouth Fury with a 3-speed transmission with the 225 Slant Six, 318, and 383 2-bbl. engines. This meant that the manual transmission was available on all Furys except for the Sport Fury GT, which came standard with the 440 V8 and TorqueFlite transmission.
For our first survivor, may I present this well-patinaed 1970 Fury II 2-door sedan, photographed back in 2014.
While there are no pictures of the engine compartment or interior, the original post assures us that it has a slant 6 engine and a three on the tree.
Next up, we have this triple-green 1970 Sport Fury from an online ad back in April of 2013. According to the seller, it has 318 V8 engine and (of course) a 3-speed transmission.
Sure enough, you can just make out the clutch pedal in the interior shot above, as well as the gear shifter at the 3:00 position. List price in 1970? About $3,500. Asking price in 2013? $3,500. How’s that for a hedge against inflation?
For 1971, the 3-speed transmission was dropped part way through model year, with the TorqueFlite becoming standard in late 1971 (and thereafter).
Representing the 1971 model year, we have this wonderfully original, low-option 1971 Fury I.
Per the original seller, this car has no power steering, power brakes, or automatic transmission. Not even carpeting or an AM radio. The fact that it sports only 37,000 miles should surprise no one, as driving a full-sized, slant 6-powered Fury with no power options or even a radio had to be a truly miserable experience.
Only the accessory bumper guards on the rear bumper keep it from being a true zero-option car. If you want to see what really basic transportation looked like in 1971, I highly suggest clicking through to the original post, where there are far more photos than I can reproduce here.
Our final Plymouth is this 1971 Fury Custom found on Craigslist in 2018, with a 318 and a 3-speed transmission. While the original ad is long gone, it was kindly preserved by our friends over at forcbodiesonly.com, a Chrysler C-body forum. Here is a saved excerpt of the original CL ad:
1971 Plymouth Fury – $9500
Classic Plymouth Fury. This is a police interceptor clone used in the movie American Gangster for interior and exterior filming. The actor Josh Brolin was featured using this vehicle. This vehicle was also used in an independent film “Love and Lots of It” showcased at the Tribeca Film Festival. All Movie Documents are available and are included with the vehicle. This vehicle was Professionally Appraised at $13,500 Documents available and included. Interior is clean, 318ci V8.
Factory cut sheet (included) shows the 3 speed manual transmission from the factory, which is not common in a sedan. Always gets attention at the local car shows and cruise nights.
Yes, we have another movie car! What is it with manual transmissions and movie cars, anyways? Is it because they able to take more abuse? Maybe it is easier for stunt drivers to perform stunts like burnouts and power slides? Or maybe it is simply because no one else wants them.
According to the original post, this Plymouth was used in the filming of American Gangster, where it appeared as a police interceptor. I went to IMCDB.org, and sure enough, I found the car in the screen grab above, engaged in a chase (presumably low-speed, given the slant six).
Most interestingly, it appeared as the “hero” car in Love, Lots of It, a 2011 indie short film that I guarantee you’ve never seen or heard of.
Rather than attempting to describe the film, I’ll just include the whole thing here for your viewing pleasure – it is only 10 minutes long. That’s the funny thing about internet rabbit holes – you never know what you will find on the other end.
Officially (well, according to OldCarBrochures.com), the full-sized Dodges of 1970 were only available with V8 power (318 standard in the Polara, and a 383 standard in the Monaco), leaving the six-cylinder full-size cars to the skinflints over at Plymouth. Unofficially (according to American Cars 1960-1972) there was a fleet-only 1970 Polara Special model that came with a 225 slant 6 and a three-speed that was introduced late in the model year. In any case, the 318 and 383 were also available with three pedals in 1970.
For 1971, at least according to American Cars, no slant 6 was on offer, although Jason Shafer found evidence to the contrary. Also for 1971, the 360 was added to fill the gap between the 318 and 383 engines, all of which could still be had with a column shift manual. Like Plymouth, the three-on-the-tree was gone at Dodge for 1972.
Back to the unicorn hunt. Once again, the sleuths over at forcbodiesonly.com came through for me with this surviving example of a Dodge with a three-on-the tree.
While I was unable to find any 1971 models, here is a 1970 Monaco the crew found for sale in Poland in 2022. Note that the exterior color and interior materials are both custom, and not original to the car.
The clutch pedal and blanked-out PRNDL are clearly visible in the shot above. This one is also parked with the shift lever in the upper quadrant, in either reverse or second gear. I’m guessing this is muscle memory by the driver from years of driving automatics.
Yes, believe it or not, you could get a 3-speed manual transmission on a Chrysler up until mid-1971, just like Plymouth and Dodge. Granted, a manual transmission was only available on the Newport: The 300, New Yorker, and Town & Country wagon all came standard with a TorqueFlite automatic. Surely Chrysler didn’t actually build and sell 3-speed equipped Newports, did they?
Hold on to your hat, because the C-body fanatics at forcbodiesonly.com have delivered yet again. Behold this 1970 Chrysler Newport, bearing only the standard equipment included in its base price, last seen for sale in 2016 in Oregon (naturally) with an asking price of $3,000.
A base Newport in 1970 meant a vinyl interior, no A/C, no power windows (you can just see the window crank in the picture above), and absolutely no TorqueFlite automatic transmission. Interestingly, the shifter is also in a phantom “park” position, either in second gear or reverse (another reformed automatic driver, perhaps?).
You also got unassisted steering and brakes. You do get a 383 V8, but only because it is the standard powerplant in the Newport. If this is truly the no-option Newport it appears to be, it would have stickered at $3,589 ($29,200 in 2023), making it the second cheapest Chrysler you could buy in 1970 (second only to the Newport 4-door sedan, at $3,514). Truly a small price to pay for driving a car from a “prestige” brand like Chrysler.