(first posted 8/17/2015) The Oil Embargo of 1973 is generally considered the pivotal turning point in history, when American automakers fully invested themselves in what we now refer to as The Great Brougham Epoch. More specifically, what is meant by this statement is that U.S. automakers hastily transitioned from offering performance-oriented models atop most vehicles’ lineups to models geared towards luxury.
Even before the first energy crisis of 1973 put a damper on big engines and performance, carmakers were beginning to introduce these Brougham-influenced packages on many models, complementing high-performance trims. The 1966-1969 Plymouth Fury-based VIP was one of these such models. Plymouth would take a little longer to go all the way Brougham on its mid-size B-body lines, but the 1971-1974 Satellite Sebring Plus was an early foray towards Brougham.
Although the definition of “Brougham” in its regards to automobiles is not set in stone, typically a vehicle from this period is considered a Brougham when it: 1) Is a luxury-oriented upper trim level, 2) Features upgraded interior appointments, and 3) Is generously slathered in exterior trimmings, such as liberal amounts of chrome, vinyl roofs, opera lights, and wire wheels, to name just a few.
I hesitate to call this 1972 Satellite Sebring Plus, a “Full-Brougham”, because it lacks much of the exterior appliqué commonly associated with Broughams, outlined in the paragraph above. Additionally, in the succeeding years Plymouth would make the necessary enhancements to its B-body coupe (ditching the Satellite name for “Fury” in the process), bringing it up to full-Brougham specification.
So, just what did upgrading to the Satellite Sebring Plus get you? Well admittedly, not much. Technically speaking, just about every available comfort, convenience, and decor feature was “optional” across the board on all Satellite models. Just how optioned Sebring Plus models were typically ordered by dealers is another story. Although as you can see from the list above, one could equip their Satellite Sebring Plus with features such as power windows, air conditioning, AM/FM radio with 8-track cassette, power disc brakes, sunroof, a 400 cubic-inch V8, and a number of decor options.
Satellite Sebring Plus models did feature two notable standard upgrades: the 318 cubic-inch V8 and the same all-vinyl high-back buckets found in the performance Road Runner model. A floor console with shifter could be ordered, though our featured car sports a center seat cushion and armrest. A cloth-and-vinyl split-back bench with center armrest was also optional on the Sebring Plus.
Naturally, the 1972 Plymouth Satellite can not be discussed without bringing up its chrome loop front bumper design. Along with the larger Fuselages, this feature tends to be a highly controversial item, as most people either love it or hate it. In your author’s opinion, the loop bumpers gave these cars a sleek, aggressive look that was lost with the more conventional front fascia (and corresponding 5-mph bumpers) in 1973.
As aforementioned, this car continued through 1974, upon which it was renamed “Fury” and given a substantial restyling owing to a far more “personal luxury” look as opposed to sporty coupe. Plymouth never received a true personal luxury coupe, as the related B-body Cordoba would go to Chrysler, despite rumors it was originally intended for Plymouth. Regardless, this new “small Fury” would fully embrace the Great Brougham Epoch, now in full-swing.
Yet the Sebring name would not permanently die in 1974. Two decades later, Chrysler would introduce another coupe called Sebring for the 1995 model year. In similar fashion to the Cordoba, there are rumors out there saying this car was originally planned as a Plymouth. In any event, the FJ-body Sebring coupe wasn’t an overly successful model for Chrysler, and it would not likely have significantly impacted Plymouth’s fortunes or fate.