When I saw this ’66 Fury III sedan posted at the Cohort, I instantly had two associations: My friend Jerry Gaeng and CC’s Jim Cavanaugh. I’ve heard Jim refer to his, and my middle and high school friend Jerry’s family owned one. There was a difference between them though: the Gaengs’ Fury had the slant six, which I know Jim’s car most certainly wouldn’t have. A little six in such a big, fine car? That’s how Mr. Gaeng must have wanted it. And they lived at the bottom of a pretty steep hill, so I have vivid memories of that slant six working leaning pretty hard against the torque converter to get a carload of us to somewhere.
I see that this Fury is wearing a V8 badge, as undoubtedly the majority of them did. 318, most likely, in the final year for the “poly” version of that venerable engine.
When I saw the new Fury arrive at the Gaengs’ house and I found out it was a six, it was one of those relatively rare moments where my father redeemed himself. He might drive a 170 slant six Dart to work, but he was not going to have a six in the main family chariot. But then the Gaengs were like so many Towson families: they never went anywhere except for a week or so at the ocean, meaning Ocean City. And the drive was flat as a board the whole way, except for going up over the giant Bay Bridge. Mr. Gaeng walked to work, just a few blocks away at the Baltimore County offices in Towson, where he was an attorney. And Mrs. Gaeng stayed home, smoking herself to a semi-early death with a couple of packs a day. She probably took the Fury out to the store once or twice a week.
And so it sat in the driveway, aging very gently. I think they had it until the early ’80s, when something smaller and more economical took its place.
I recognize this because my maternal grandparents had one. Except theirs was a “VIP”. I was just learning to read, so I asked my grandmother what “vip” meant. She replied, “It’s not ‘vip’, It’s V.I.P.”
“What does V.I.P. mean?”
“Very Important People. Because that’s what we are!”
It was also a Fury, which I read as “furry”, and I couldn’t figure out why you would name a car “furry” when there’s nothing furry about it. The adult world certainly is strange!
P.S.: It’s interesting that most people recognize “Caprice” and “LTD”, but not “VIP”.
Hehe! I too was fascinated by the Furries I saw as a littlie.
(Smirking younger folk present here inform me that that might mean something else these days, but I don’t want to know).
What’s more, being from another country, I also thought for quite some time that they were “ply-mouths”!
“And Mrs. Gaeng stayed home, smoking herself to a semi-early death with a couple of packs a day. She probably took the Fury out to the store once or twice a week.”
Incredibly depressing when phrased that way. The Fury as an analogy of life: don’t waste something good staying at home with the six–take the eight, and get out there.
It is a simple, yet remarkable design era.
When the Seagram’s Building opened in Manhattan in 1958, it was a revelation. A severe, yet classic rectangular box. To add visual interest, colors were primary and distinctly Piet Mondrian inspired. Furniture followed function and form, using wood tones, yet also incorporating shiny metal accents. When the Lincoln arrived in 1961, we see these similar shapes, rectangular, simple and sharp. It looked as easy as the popular men’s flat-top hair cut, yet, the barber also knew, that one error in execution would stand out like a bad rug.
So, when we see this vehicle, we see a strong shape that looks simple, yet proportioned. Spacious, airy, yet also solid.
Driving this Fury III was a very different experience from today’s behind the wheel perspectives. An enormous flat hood like looking over a dining room table, with corner points that were also turn signals. A distant hood ornament. A long flat unadorned dashboard with a small rectangular instrument binnacle holding a speedometer and warning lights. A low window belt line. A flat wide bench seat. A feeling of piloting an enormous box.
This color was a choice that we don’t often see anymore. A light powder blue. Can you imagine such a color appearing on a family vehicle today? A flat light baby blue. Certainly we wouldn’t be seeing one of those elephantine Infiniti SUV wallowing down the street in what would be an appropriate color for a vehicle that could pass as a Beluga, would we? Yet, we see this color on Galaxie 500, Impala, and Fury of that era. The next time you find yourself in a parking lot filled with dull dark mammoth vehicles, imagine one of them being painted this shade of blue in this flat a surface.
Stacked headlights. Not as dynamic and interesting as the Pontiac design that inspired it, and set in a grille that seemed an afterthought, or a hurried committee compromise. After the hideous years of Exner, Chrysler was not in a mood to return to floating headlight bezels, mounted laser-gun flashlight tail lights, gorilla uni-brow front ends, or angry Japanese Moth monsters, a-la-1961. This front end is as audacious as a metal filing cabinet.
Nice engines. Nice handling. Nice car. Yet once again, after nearly sixty years, a feast for the eyes in the 21st century, right?
The driving position of these mid-sixties mopars is the best. I love the low dashboards and great visibility.
“with a small rectangular instrument binnacle holding a speedometer and warning lights.”
Au contraire – Ammeter, temperature and fuel gauges, with warning lights only for oil pressure and high beams. Chrysler was the last one to cheap out on instrumentation,
JPC beat me to posting this.
I had a cousin who became a family man in 1969. He bought a ’69 Bel Air with I-6, PG, and no A/C. Never did understand it. A Chevelle would have done about the same thing, but since it was cheaper, he could have had A/C or a V-8 for about the same dough as the Bel Air cost. Then again, Americans once bought cars by the pound.
When you become a family man, your priorities change from a Chevelle to a BelAir. Us family men discover that big cars offer many advantages for our wives and children that smaller cars cannot offer. We might wish we could have that Camaro, but we also love our families and end up tooling around in functional big cars.
What I love about my big car is its relaxing comfort. I can spread out and enjoy a drive. The car is quieter and has more heft. More safety. I don’t want my wife and kids in a car that just gets them there.
We don’t buy cars by the pound. We buy bigger cars because bigger cars are better.
I see your point, but dollar-for-dollar, I’d happily give up some size in order to gain a few creature comforts. But people like choices, and that’s why Chevrolet gave them so many, back in the day.
A Chevelle would have been an insurance premium nightmare. 1969 was not a great year to go for a high-performance car.
Nope. Contrary to popular myth, the vast majority of Chevelles weren’t SS396s, and just as cheap to insure as a Fury. Most Chevelles in 1969 were sixes or had the 307 V8.
Yes, the 307 was by far the most common engine in a 1969 Chevrolet Chevelle, but by 1969 the six had dropped off in popularity. For all 1969 Chevelles. 48.7% had the 307, 40.4% had any other optional V8 and 10.9% had the inline six. There were 86,307 Chevelles with the SS396 option which is about 19.6% of all Chevelle production.
Just wondering, was there any issue with insurance company back in the day, if you would swap 307 to big block? Documents would still shows low power engine, keeping insurance rate low. In case of accident, would policy be checking the engine reporting to insurance company some discrepancy? If there is no state required annual technical / smog inspection, probably no one would find it out, right? Or swaps for bigger engines had to be reported to authorities?
In most parts of the Europe, it’s very costly to make some swaps legal. Police is even checking, if you have winter tire in case of accident and report it to insurance company if you should have them.
You could do that. But it was very rarely done, because new cars were not exactly cheap, especially for the young men who were buying performance cars at the time.
It would have been quite expensive, actually. New hi-po engines were cost a fair amount, and then there were other issues. Most likely the transmission would have to be changed, and the rear end too. And…
It can get quite involved. So realistically, it was cheaper to just pay for the higher insurance.
A better solution would have been to get a 327 Chevelle, and then spend a bit of money to make it faster. Much cheaper than swapping out a 307 for a big block. And a well-prepped 327 could be quite fast indeed, easily as a fast as a stock 396.
Swapping engines was a much better choice for older cars, which is why ’55-’57 Chevys were so popular. And the early Chevy II.
Also, if you were buying a new car with a bank loan, it could be risky in that regard too.
What DID happen a lot, however, was big blocks swapped with even bigger ones. There were a number of dealers who routinely did this.
Grand-Spaulding Dodge in Chicago and Baldwin Chevrolet come to mind, among others. Baldwin would pull out the 396, put a 427 in it’s
place, and put the nearly unused take-out on the parts shelf, where it had a ready market. If you had a really fat wallet, the car would be sent down the street to Motion, where Joel Rosen would install whatever you wished, or could afford.
The ’66 Plymouth also had a fascinating (to me) speedometer design. I had to check out the dashboard gauges of any new car I got to see.
It looks like a clock radio for the kitchen. Set it on top of the refrigerator and dial it to the local station for the morning temperature so the kids can get to school comfortably.
That speedometer design is an interesting hybrid of a pointer-and-scale set in a rectangular, almost square binnacle, that began in 1965 for Plymouth, and stayed with Chrysler for a very long time, all the way into the eighties.
Pretty natural evolution of the ’57-58 speedo.
Only the optional V-8’s received a fender callout this year (“Commando”). Looks like this one has the optional Commando 383 2 bbl, as it has single exhaust. The 383 and 440 4 barrels had duals.
Except for the vertical character line pressed into the C pillar, that greenhouse design could have been off of a Ford or a Mercury, an Ambassador, a Dodge or a Newport. Pretty standard for that design era, huh?
That vertical character line was an Engel touch I never understood.
A Chevelle would have been an insurance premium nightmare. 1969 was not a great year to go for a high-performance car.
The vast majority of Chevelles were not high performance cars.
I test drove a ‘66 Sport Fury with the 318 a few years ago. In addition to the great visibility, the most notable thing to my mind was that the Full Time power steering gave me no clue which way the front wheels were being pointed. Maybe you get used to it….
“Maybe you get used to it….”
I certainly did. The tradeoff was that the ratio was pretty fast for the era, 3.5 turns lock to lock, as I recall. The Ford system didn’t give much more road feel and the Chevy system was slower (not sure when they fixed that – maybe they had by 66).
The only experience I had with Ford’s system was in my 1964 Lincoln, and it had quite a bit more on center feel, to my mind. This with radial tires. If I recall correctly it was 3.8 turns lock to lock, so not much slower than a Chrysler product.
My 1962 Nova was indeed very slow and the wheel-winding was made worse by a distinct lack of self-centering. You had to drag it back to center after every turn.
My parent’s ’66 Ford Country Sedan wagon still had the numb and slow geared (4 1/2 or 5 turns lock to lock?) power steering system with no road feel whatsoever.
My Father, who only drove the wagon on our vacation road trips, complained about the Ford’s power steering the entire time they owned it.
Oh yeah! Possibly the most satisfying 4 year/40k mile period of my life. These were really nicely done cars that were easy to live with. My only gripes were that the seats were not great for long distance travel (too little low back support) and the 2bbl 318 was OK, but a 4bbl 383 would have been a lot better.
I still prefer the rear end styling on the 65, though.
I like these Plymouths, but always thought that the 1965 and 1966 full-size Dodges came off better. But the Plymouth was much more popular, even though it had a direct competitor right across the showroom floor – the Chrysler Newport.
The failure of the 1965 and 1966 Dodges to gain much traction in the market is interesting. I believe that, among full-size cars, the full-size Dodge accounted for the lowest percentage of its brand total sales during the mid- and late 1960s.
Close. So close to mine. A ’65 Fury III I bought from my grandfather for $1.00 to be a winter beater one season. I quickly fell in love with driving the thing on the highways. So smooth, so well put together (IKR?) I was having some starter trouble for awhile so it was slick to have an automatic that one could push-start. 318 and Torqueflight
I started to think restoration then discovered how rotten the sub-frame was around the torsion bar mounts. Sigh. When I sold it I told the buyer there was one brake line I hadn’t replaced and that he should get on it ASAP. He didn’t. Good old single-circuit brakes.
Car ended it’s run in a demo derby after that.
I took driver’s training in the summer of 1965 in a new 1965 Plymouth Fury III, a white four-door sedan with blue vinyl and cloth interior. I thought it was a handsome car. And some of the qualities mentioned above made it a good car for this purpose. Visibility was excellent and the hood ornament let you know where that long hood ended. Add in the heavily boosted steering and parking was easy. It was fun doing driver’s training in an all-new model but the car’s quality of assembly suffered from that status. Also, I sorta would have preferred to be in the group selected for the school’s other training car – a beautiful burgundy red 1965 Impala four-door hardtop – simply because it had air conditioning and that summer in Indiana was boiling hot. However, I doubt that the Impala’s size, low seating position, and reduced outward visibility would have made it as maneuverable as the Fury. Good times.
Back in the 70’s a girlfriend of mine bought a 2 door Fury I (1965 ) in this light blue inside and out. A 318, an automatic and a radio. Beautiful in it’s simplicity.
I took my drivers test in a 68 fury wagon all white it was a friend’s of mine his dad owned 2 Sunoco gas stations in coal region in pa car was all that it was in 1972 the cop pushed in the 8 track tape my friend hade black Sabbath in. Course was in a small town I passed it like a walk in the park also about 2o years ago could of bought a 70 4 Dr garage keep 4 Dr 318 Orange color decent shape for 400 did not have the extra cash then I kick myself in the ass when I think of it. I am a mopar man own a dodge challenger and dodge ram o well
My father’s cousin owned a 1966 Fury III convertible in this color. They bought it brand new, and kept it until 1977. I don’t recall it being too rusty by the time it was sold. Quite an achievement, considering that it spent its entire life in either Pennsylvania or southern Ohio.
It was a handsome car in a square-shouldered, no-nonsense sort of way. A few years ago a mint, all-original white 1966 Fury III hardtop coupe was offered for sale at one of the Carlisle shows. There were little details that showed Chrysler had put some money into these cars.
As others have noted, the 1965-68 C-body Mopars have a terrific driving position. I don’t know the exact dimensions, but their interiors seem very roomy – particularly in comparison to competitive GM cars of that era.
In high school, a friend’s family had a 1966 Chrysler New Yorker hardtop sedan, loaded with almost every option. Her family had bought it brand-new. By this point (1979-80), my friend was using it as her car. It was huge inside – three adults could easily sit in the back seat without feeling cramped, and four could easily be seated in a pinch!
I have a 1968 Plymouth Fury VIP that has been in the family for 42 years and I agree with the others that this car has a perfect driving position. Very easy to drive and park, much easier than my 2002 Chrysler Concorde Lxi. It’s a great long distance car and I’m not at all bothered by the one finger power steering. My first car which had also been in the family a very long time was a 1967 Plymouth Sport Fury. It too was a dream to drive and I took my driver’s test in it in 1979. Parts of the ’67 live on in my ’68.
I don’t think any of the Mopar C-bodies improved for 1966, with the possible exception of the Dodge’s rear clip. Arguably the same, but to a lesser degree could be said for the big GM. Ford and Mercury, on the other hand had better looking ’66’s, at least in my opinion.
If they didn’t rust out, these Plymouths were durable. I remember seeing one as a D.C. cab in 1992!