posted at the Cohort by Ralf K (Don Kincl)
This had to be one of the few times when a brand new car looked almost instantly old.
I am not a fan of these Forward Look cars, a Chrysler, Dodge, or Plymouth from this era doesn’t interest me….well, except for the truly odd looking 2 door wagons. But this Fury looks like a middle-aged housewife wearing too much costume jewelry even though her gown is a well preserved older dress from a respected design house.
“This had to be one of the few times when a brand new car looked almost instantly old.”
The same has been said about the three-piece rear windows in the “Suddenly It’s 1950” Buicks and Oldsmobiles for 1957, but I’d argue that at least the rest of the car looked in line with the times.
I always thought that Olds had a beautiful design, with those long rear quarters on the coupe, and the hardtop sedan looked great too.
If you are not a fan of the forward look Mopars then you shouldn’t write about them. Give the job to someone with something good to say. Like me!!! I love cars of all shapes and sizes. I can make a good comment about any car made. One of my own personal cars is a 1958 Plymouth Belvedere 4dr hardtop. Really curious about what you drive!!!
My widdowed aunt had a 4 door sedan one of these in black. It was near new when my uncle passed away…he had been a mechanic at the local CP dealer. As a young kid with a passion for anything that moved and cars especially I remember staring at this car and thinking how bizarre it was! It was so over the top in so many ways…strange dashboard with the mirror mounted on it, the chrome scallops behind the front wheels and the big fins and all the chrome. Not a fan then but if this was perfectly restored now….I just might!
I had a similar experience as a youngster walking to school and observing all the neighborhood metal. These stood out like some cyclops roaming the landscape, and that odd steering wheel and dash mounted mirror were too much to take. No thanks.
It’s tough to find three consecutive model years any uglier than the 1960, 61 and 62 Plymouths. To my eyes, this 1960 model was the worst because of those preposterous fins. Even the 1961’s goofy bolted on flashlights are better. This car has always struck me as the stereotypical Bulgemobile of 50’s excess. In 1960.
Beautiful match with the hIgh TEcH GRaphiCs ON the BLDg behind it. The same crudE jumbl3 of upperCASe and LOwERcase parts.
The difference, of course, is that Chrysler had hundreds of high-paid marketing execs who should have seen the problem. A small-town welder doesn’t have any marketing execs and doesn’t need them. People know his work.
Cold War Motors in Alberta has been restoring a ’60 Fury on a limited budget (that’s part of the fun!), repairing its rotten floor by splicing the upper body on a 1960 Dart floor pan.
Tremendous time-suck but Scott, Dean, Frankers and company are a howl and you WILL be impressed with their metal work. This link is to one of the early videos in the series, a couple of years ago, but look ’em up on YouTube to see the Fury now.
Yes,I was going to bring that up as well. When they cut up the 4 door I figured the whole mess would end in tears but they’ve done a good job of it.
I like these cars on the basis that they are not just ugly, they are fantastically gloriously ugly.
That guy is an amazing fabricator, and I’m always a little envious that he found so many other people in his area that seem to be just as quirky as he is. That’s a fun group.
Such a shame about that really attractive semi-fastback greenhouse on these 2 door hardtops – it never found a home on a car that was even slightly attractive. I have always found the basic shape on these quite nice, but between the too-tall fins on the back, the blunt, crude front end and the horrible mishmash and overuse of chrome on the sides, this hardtop never had a chance.
In the winder of 1979-80 I had my 59 Fury sedan at college. In the same dorm parking lot someone had a baby blue 60 Plymouth sedan that was in pretty nice shape. I tried and tried to find something attractive about that car, and failed.
I remember seeing a (few years back) where someone grafted this roofline onto, I believe a 63(?) Chevy Impala 2 door. It actually looked pretty nice. I believe the pics were from Detroit’s Autorama show. I may have to look it up….
Was this year Plymouth really any worse looking than the Dulled Down, “Bat Wings” Chevy?
Beneath the skin the Plymouth was a superior car than the marshmallow Chevy in engine choices, automatic transmission, brakes, suspension and curvy road handling.
My father bought a new 1960 Ford Country Sedan in late 1960, so I am a bit prejudiced. However, that said, this is a car that looked new in 1957, but by 1960 it was a rapidly aging design. The Chevy, on the other hand, was into the second year of a style that would be further diluted in its 3rd year.
I am one of those folks who actually prefers the 61 model Plymouth over the 60 or 62, but I would still have bought a Ford in 61.
In 1960 I was still too young to know which engine and/or transmission from which company was the better product, and still a few years away from the appreciation that I would have for Chrysler engineering, in particular. By 1967 my opinion would start to develop, but unfortunately, by then Chevy was producing cars that not only looked good, but had pretty good engines.
. . . and with (finally) a 3 speed automatic available.
1960 Ford was considered a historic flop as well – they did a dramatic redo for 1961
But even as a kid when it was new, I remember looking at the rear of the 61 Ford and thinking – suddenly it’s 1957!
Absolutely! Well put!
I LOVE these 1960 Plymouths from the plainest to the most garish. Came very close to getting a black four door Fury in the mid 1980’s and if I’d known I was less than two years from the divorce my then wife threatened if I got the car I would have went ahead and bought it and would still have it. I would still love to have one four door or two door doesn’t matter. 318 with a Torqueflite would be perfect for me.
As chas108 mentions, Scott from Cold War Motors in Canada did an amazing rescue of a ’60 Fury just like the featured car and by the time he’s done will be better than factory. All of the body work is done and is painted back to its original blue and white. He fabricated panels that could not be bought anywhere and you would be hard pressed to tell where he’d done the work.
With so many cars today styled like fish, insects or reptiles, I think a set of fins wouldn’t look too bad. And hey – at least you can see the rear corners of this car while you’re backing up!
Happy Motoring, Mark
How did they go from the beautiful 1957 Plymouth to this thing in just 3 years?
What a styling mess.
It looks like they drove a chassis with a giant magnet in the center around the plant and let it pick up whatever unused parts were laying around and then welded it all together.
But at least it was painted black to keep it classy.
From the mid-‘50s to the mid-‘60s, it’s as though the Chrysler Corporation was like a singer who goes down in history as a one- or two-hit wonder, at least as far as styling goes.
I’ve always felt that the reason that Chrysler couldn’t sustain its successes of 1955 and 1957 is because it was pulled into too many directions at the time. Not only did quality suffer as sales increased, at the same time the company was expending its capital and energies on:
• fixing cars and the corporation’s reputation when products were rushed into production and either fell or rusted apart in short order,
• moving almost all cars to unibodies,
• developing the Valiant,
• working on turbine engine development,
• dealing with the conflict-of-interest accusations of shareholders in 1960, and a subsequent change in leadership,
• embarking on an ill-advised and ill-fated crash course to downsize its bread-and-butter products for the 1962 model year,
• and then having to quickly redesign those same products to not only rid them of bizarre styling, but also to somehow make them look larger.
All at the same time the corporation was managing Chrysler Aerospace, Chrysler Defense, and Airtemp (and probably other divisions I’m not thinking of at the moment). Given its relatively small size and all that was going on behind the curtain, it’s nothing short of a miracle that Chrysler survived past the mid-60s, let alone until 2009.
AND killing DeSoto. Don’t forget to mention killing DeSoto.
I really like the car because of the fin design , but it is the front end that I just can’t stand, especially that weird curve right behind the front wheels.
I did a quick Photoshop excerise and it shows there is a lot more potential to be had with that curve.
If I was going to do a quick fix on the styling of these cars I would start by shaving the fins down a bit (but I realize that would mess up the tail lights, so those might need a re-do as well) and I would bin that chrome accent after the rear wheels. It does make a plain car look upscale (Plymouths and Fords had that piece on their upper trims to distance them from the “taxi spec” low line models). But, it doesn’t quite work with that front end wraparound.
This Fury was classy looking when it was brand new, and that black (or any single color) suits it, but considering it was in it’s 3rd model year….it just looked old.
The 57 does this styling well, the 60? Borders on wedding cake gaudy.
Howard, you seem to be working from the assumption that the 57 and 60 Plymouths were part of the same generation – they were not. It is perhaps even sadder that the 1960 was a clean sheet design, and the first year of the all-new unibody.
Chrysler styling was hit with a 1-2 punch in 1957-58. First, Exner and his stylists had hit a home run with the 1957 models (which were likely styled in 1955) but could not see what was next. Exner and his guys knew something would follow the fin, but they could not see what, so they kept working on finned concepts for the new 60s.
Also, Exner had a serious heart attack in (I believe) 1957 when the 60s were well along and when the 61s were being figured out. There was some corporate intrigue when Bill Schmidt was brought in but Exner came out on top after he came back. There were many months of confusion which resulted in some muddled (to put it kindly) styling.
In hindsight we know that Ford was about to show the way forward with the 61 Continental. Bill Mitchell was on that same trajectory with his clean 1962 designs. Exner saw things a different way, but not a way that would be commercially popular.
I wonder how clean sheet the unibody 60s really were, it seems quite a lot of core dimensions carried over, as well as major hardpoints like the very distinctive cowl/windshield area, so is it possible much of the basic 57 bodystructure carried over, but recieved a new floorpan and strengthening in key areas to make it load bearing? It’s notable to me that the front clip still uses a separate frame like a second gen Nova. It seems to me had these been truly clean sheet the whole structure bumper to bumper would have been unibody, like the Valiant and the 62s(B body)
Paul has made this argument but I’m not buying. Other than a similar windshield shape nothing was the same. The whole inner door/A pillar structure and corresponding door shape is different. Compare wagons and it becomes more apparent that absolutely everything is different. It seems that nobody can see past that kinked A pillar/vent window, but even that is a slightly different shape (unmistakably so on sedans.)
I’m not saying there might not be a stray stamping somewhere that carried over, but think about it – the floor, cowl and sills had to mostly replace an entire frame (and resulted in a fabulously stiff structure that the prior car lacked), so if anything got changed it had to be there.
I’ve come to agree with Jim. I’m convinced no actual panels were carried over, including inner ones.
But, I strongly suspect (or it’s essentially self evident) that rather from starting with a truly clean sheet, that the process was more along the lines of “what do we need to change to make it a unibody? Which turned out to be everything, essentially.
And the point about the subframe is relevant because I suspect very strongly that it allowed a significant amount of the ’57-’59 front end, suspension, steering, etc. to be reused. That applies to the rear suspension to, and axle.
That is the big difference between the big C Bodies and the A & B bodies, which are true unibodies, without a bolt on front frame.
The single biggest reason Chrysler wen to unibody is to improve the very poor interior space utilization of the ’57-’59, due to the floor sitting completely above the old-school ladder frame, a la Studebaker. Combined with the lower roofs for ’57, that made headroom tight.
GM and Ford had both addressed this issue with their X Frame and “cowbelly” frame, both of which afforded footwells for the rear passengers. The solution was to go full unibody, from the cowl back, which allowed the floor to drop and thus gain a couple of inches of headroom and improved sitting position. The ’60 interior really is significantly better in that regard.
But since that was the main objective, keeping the cost down by essentially reusing the front end and rear axle suspension, and by keeping the same wheelbase, no need to change drive shafts and such.
But why they didn’t use the opportunity to change styling more is the very big question. It’s clearly the fact that Exner both seemed stuck as well as sick. A combination of factors.
But just exactly how this all transpired is one of the mysteries I am eager to find more detailed info on. Or maybe that’s just all there was to it.
Exner got an heart attack in 1956 just as the 1957 arrived on the show rooms and they worked on the 1959-60-61 models.
I wonder what if Chrysler had kept the body-on-frame cars a bit longer on full-size Dodge, Plymouth, DeSoto and Chrysler? Then what if Exner died of his heart attack at this time?
It’s definitely a new body structure, but as Paul notes below, probably one that drew heavily from the ’57-9 engineering to simplify the transition to unibody construction. The fact that some design aspects carried over, such as the concave panel at the rear of the Plymouth, adds to the illusion.
I know there was a period after Exner had his heart attack in ’57 where Bill Schmidt took over and changed a lot of designs. I’ve always thought that most affected the ’59’s, but wonder if it carried over to these designs as well?
That’s exactly what I was going to suggest doing with the front end. Back when I built a ’60 Plymouth model as a teenager, I wanted to do this but knew I lacked the skill to pull it off.
Now if the rear fenders had been straight instead of having that fin, we might be getting a reasonable shape for 1960. But with Exner, of course, that wouldn’t be happening…
Looks very cool, could you made another one to imagine what if they had kept the roofline of the 1957-59 four-door sedans? I remember a old issue of Collectible Automobile about the 1960-61 Dodge where they showed a photo of a mock-up clay proposed design for the 1960 Dodge, keeping the 1957-59 roofline.
I say dare to be different ! I think (just my opinion) that the ’60 & ’61 2 door Plymouth look fantastic ! My friend Mike has a 2 door ’60 wagon with a 440…..really cool, won’t see another at a car get together. Myself, I enjoy my original, patina ’55 Plymouth as my EVERYDAY car. There is more to life than a ’55 Chevy !!
There was no 440 in 1960. It didn’t arrive until 1966.
It also has an 833 4 speed, disc brakes, and tilt column. Hard too believe but true!
Ray, are you from Seattle? Did you have a Morris Minor in High School?
My 1955 Plymouth Belvedere. I drive it most days, a solid original, old car that gets lots of looks. A little rough appearance wise, mechanically in fine, kept condition the 241 V8 purrs along as does the 3-on-the-tree transmission, suspension & brakes rebuilt.
Pure art by Chrysler Mother Nature and time.
I like it. What’s better than a two door hardtop? I’d rather have this than a ’59 Cadillac. I hope that someone has saved this finned relic.
I’d rather pull into a car show driving this and stand out than be told to park over with all the other Mustang’s, or all the other Camaros or all the other….?
In 1957: “Suddenly its 1960” in more ways than one. Head on down to your Plymouth/Dodge/Chrysler/Imperial dealer and get your pre-rusted 1957 Chrysler product! By 1958, your fine new car will look like it’s gotten to 1960 and it’s already time to replace it.
In 1960: Plymouth introduces its all-new unibody, rehashing the best-selling themes of 1957. Way, way, way back in the 1960s when I was in grade school, a classmate’s family had a 1960 Plymouth station wagon. When I comprehended what was going on in Chrysler’s styling over the years, I was astonished that they would bring back ideas for 1960 that had first appeared in 1957 and which had been toned down a bit for 1959. All this while Ford had gone a wee bit mad for 1960 and GM had toned down the 1959 excesses a bit for 1960, and both had whole new directions of elegant sanity in store for 1961.
It’s obviously no pristine Christine.
I for one love the roofline, dare I say it’s the best looking and most distinctive roofline of the big three circa 1960. But yeah, the rest is a bit of a hard sell, I can actually tolerate the front end and it’s odd wraparound ok, but the fins are probably the worst looking fins ever were, they’re both overly expressive and bland at once, and the chrome tinsel adorning them looks plain bad. I’m not a tail fin fan in general but the 57-58 fins worked better, they didn’t look like they were sprouting 8 feet in the air from separate fenders beside the trunklid, and were adorned with flattering trim that actually made them look somewhat sporty. I see a lot of Cadillac influence here, and Plymouth stylists should have consciously realized they made the better looking car in 57-58 – don’t copy the loser!
This car is a caricature of an ugly 1958-1959 Plymouth. While the 1957 design was daring, bold and balanced, the cartoon version of it that ended up as the 1960 design is an abomination. These stylists weren’t even trying.
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