A week or so ago, we looked at a ’65 Plymouth Belvedere in the light of being one of the last of the Mopars to still have a major part of its body designed under Virgil Exner. Since Jon O’Grady posted this ’64 Plymouth Fury sedan, here’s a chance to reverse that Engelization process one year further back.
The changes from the ’63, which was Exner’s last design, are both subtle and more obvious. Let’s start at the back and work out way forward.
From the rear, the changes are quite subtle, the main one being the rear window, which has lost its trailing top edge. I think that’s all and I presume the actual glass interchanges, although in looking at it closer, it looks like the ’63’s glass top edge is a bit straighter across, and the ’64’s has a bit of a curve.
But the rest of the body us essentially unchanged, except for the trim and such.
The front is where Engel went to work. The grille and such are of course obvious, and rather duller. But he made another change, getting rid of Exner’s “speedboat cowl”, where the front cowl/vent panel slopes up to the windshield a bit, and the bottom of the windshield has a curve to meet it. Engel did not like that, and made it very conventional.
Here’s the ’63 front end. I find the grille and it protruding turn signal nacelles more interesting than the dull ’64. And here one can see the raised cowl better. It was an important feature of his “fuselage” styling, and originated on the 1960 Valiant. But it does look a bit out of the mainstream of the times, and Engel quickly rectified that.
Did these changes help much, in terms of sales and market share? Somewhat. Sales for the “full size” (116″ wb) cars were 183k in ’62, and rose to 263k in ’63 and to 297k in ’64. The new genuinely big C-Body Fury in ’65 upped that to 329k. Market share went from 2.6% in ’62 to 3.4% in ’65. The days when Plymouth was a sold #3 were of course done for.
Dodge improved even less during those years, from 2.1% share in ’62 to a 2.9% share in ’64, only to fall back to 1.4% for the new big ’65 Polara/Monaco, which must have stung.
Chrysler might just as well not have bothered with the new big ’65 C-Bodies, at least for Dodge and Plymouth, although it was presumably essential for the Chrysler brand anyway.