My daily walk to work in the Sears Tower never ceases to amaze me, especially in spring when many examples of classic Detroit iron come out of hibernation. Today’s find was a 1974 Plymouth Satellite Sebring Plus, identifiable by the cow-catchers, front and rear.
This ’74 Sebring Plus had a particularly nice exhaust note. One of my favorite slot cars I ever owned was Plymouth Satellite coupe, much like this one, with an attachment that clicked, giving the car an approximation of the sound of glasspacks when it went around the track.
Downtown, The Loop, Chicago, Illinois.
Thursday, March 12, 2015.
Sears Tower? Don’t you mean the Willis Tower??
The start of many a “Whatchoo talkin’ ’bout, Willis?” joke.
I’ve lived here for over a decade, so in my mind, anyway, that entitles me to refer to it as the Sears. When folks come to visit, no one asks to see the “Willis Tower Skydeck.” 🙂
It’ll always be the Sears Tower.
I’m probably a minority here, but I really like the style of this car, even with the federalized bumpers.
I was a GM guy in that era, and the GM cars clearly had better quality interiors and were generally screwed together better, so I mostly ignored these. But, 40 years later, I really appreciate that stylistically the Mopars offered something just a bit different.
I like this car also. Not a fan of the vinyl on the the roof though. I do not have a problem with the bumpers of that era.
As your photos have demonstrated, Chicago is an outstanding city for sighting CCs, as I saw while living there for three years — far better than any East Coast big city, despite the harsh winters and massive amounts of road salt. Do you have any theories on why this is the case?
I have always wondered whether midwesterners are, on average, just more car-centric than their east coast counterparts, and therefore have had more appreciation for them all through the aging process.
The Mid West was always far more Conservative than either Coast , the junkyards & used car lots were full of Chrysler products over GM or also ran Ford .
Not necessarily a bad thing IMO .
Well, we are close to ‘Motown’ and have a Ford Assembly plant. Also, we have the largest, physical, Auto Show. So, yes, we like our cars, 😉
Yes, very car-centric.
Great observation and question, Robert, and I’ll echo JP and Tomcat360 with my thought that the Midwest is more car-centric – not only because we build cars in this region, but also because the space afforded us (to own, garage, and work on cars) enables us to participate in the hobby.
I actually caught the 10-minute span between when the driver of this car opened the door, fired up the engine (probably a 318 4-bbl, by the throaty sound of it), and stopped at the light at the intersection of S. Clark & W. Jackson.
Sometimes people don’t like pictures taken of them, their cars, etc., but many do. I crossed the sidewalk in front of the Satellite, and I’m guessing the driver hadn’t noticed me snapping away with my Canon until I was already on the west side of Clark. I waved, and he waved back, then I gave him an enthusiastic thumbs-up as he hit the gas when the light changed, moments later. Car people know it when they drive something cool, and I’d say most drivers of something like this would appreciate their car being noticed and photographed.
Yes, the space is generous enough for a college student to own several cars without much extra cost, it’s not going to happen in neither coast. But the burden of rust belt makes a winter car mandatory for us at the same time, and it needs a wise choice for a winter car. As for the maintaining cost and insurance between winter car and summer car, I figured it out from Hagerty Insurance price policy: A person can only drive one car at a time!
Nice Plymouth ! .
I didn’t like these when new but I do respect how Chrysler Corp. diligently went their own way , satisfying millions of happy owners and mechanics .
Good cars if waaayyyy too big for my taste .
Nice find, thanks for the MST3K reference!
There’s that radioactive waste green again, preserver of early 70’s cars…
No no, that’s a Lou Reed reference. 🙂
I can’t believe I didn’t catch that until now!
Love it! Great catch, Joseph. Never much cared for the restyle to acommodate the bigger bumpers at all when it came out following the sharper 71 and 72 cars, but it has grown on me as time has marched on.
It will always be the Sears Tower, for me, too.
Right across the street from my office!
Sure this Plymouth is not the finest looking vehicle on four wheels, but it looks pretty good for an unrestored 41 year old and that is a nice shade of Avacodo Green. Wonder how often this Plymouth is worked on since I see the Bondo and there is no nose or rear end sag with the suspension.
These cars were somewhat thin on the ground back in the day (I was 10 in ’74) and I only remember seeing the odd one growing up. I actually like the styling of the 4-dr sedans and wagons more, even with the big bumpers.
In terms of production, I wouldn’t doubt it to research that the new-for-’74 AMC Matador coupes outsold the Satellite 2-doors.
I like the coupe versions better – the 1973 – ’74 models remind me of Daisy Duke who had a ’74 Road Runner based on this bodystyle.
1974 Matador coupe production = 68,434
1974 Satellite 2-doors (incl. Road Runner) = 72.649
Wow…within 10%. So close!
That’s quite close, although the AMC Matador was new for 1974 while the Plymouth Satellite Sebrings were carryover designs. It highlights a major problem for Chrysler Corporation in general, and Plymouth in particular, during this time – the weakness in the intermediate coupe market, which was an important segment during the 1970s.
Actually Daisy drove a yellow ’71 Roadrunner in the first two seasons of the show. Bo and Luke destroy her car in Season 2, and then she gets the Jeep. However, with that being said, there were times that the production would use a ’73 or ’74 Roadrunner in the ’71’s place. They were constantly swapping the police cars all the time with Coronets, Furys, Grand Furys, and Matadors.
Here’s a video showing Bo and Luke in Daisy’s ’71 Road Runner:
Its fascinating to see those big old 70s cars in today´s traffic. I would really like to learn more about the drivers of such cars and what makes them tick.
Nostalgia and fantasy fuel our hobby, of course, and know no era, as long as it’s a past one. It’s easy to understand these guys if you make the distinction between the cars they drive for fun and those they drive every day.
I can’t speak for all of us, I’m just an average guy that like American cars of the 50s and 60s. It’s not a childhood nostalgia thing, my parents drove Hillmans and Fiats,and weren’t into American cars at all. We have a 69 Skylark as our hobby car,and yes it gets driven in traffic sometimes.
It’s more complicated in RHD Australia,since the Skylark is LHD.
I drive my 77 Chevelle nearly every day. to me it’s just fun to have something very unique, but not a one-off custom, and prices being for my 77.. I’m not afraid to drive it, and if it should happen to get wrecked, I’ve got enough parts to fix most damage, if not, I write it off and move on to something else.
It is a conversation piece, and if people show interest in it, I tend to let them sit in it, or get a ride, or sometimes even let them drive it..
is the Chevelle the international version of the Opel Kadett C ?
That’s the Chevette. T rather than L makes a big difference! The Chevelle is a midsize car, in American terms, and in ’77 outweighed the Chevette by over 700 kilos. and was about 1.25 meters longer.
I had never given these a lot of thought at first, but then bought a model kit of one (this would have been either 1973 or 74, when they were still new.) Building that kit, I came to appreciate the fairly intricate styling on these. Even now I like these better than the 71-72.
In case anyone is curious, I painted mine with Dupli-Color 1973 Plymouth Basin Street Blue, paired with a white interior. I kept 10 or 15 of my better efforts, and this one may have been one that made the cut.
The Satellites were nice-looking cars for their times. Much better than the gussies-up, overwrought Fury and Monaco B’s that were facelifted versions of this car.
I have to say that the Monaco and Fury B-bodies are one of my favorite “old” cars, if not my favorite. Love the long, big design and especially love how the taillights are integrated onto the bumper.
Coincidentially, my grandfather used these cars extensively when he entered the Missouri State Police force back in the mid-70s. That was way before I was a twinkle in someone’e eye.
Growing up, every time my grandfather would see one (which was rare), he’d talk about this car. Never had a bad thing to say about it (but then again, he bleeds Mopar).
Almost forty years later, after his retirement, he found a ’77 Fury that was beat to heck (but still straight and had very little rust, which was cosmetic) and has restored it top to bottom, front to back. It looks like it just was taken home from the local Chry-Ply dealer. Tried to talk him into putting a Hemi into it, but the 360 V8 still rumbles along after minor repairs. Probably has the last well-kept B-body in the US.
He knows that these cars aren’t really sought after, but this car has a lot of sentimental value to him. A lot of miles travelled protecting the citizens and travellers of rural northwest Missouri, and some adrenaline-pumping moments every so often.
These are the kinds of stories I like to hear–someone who restores an old car not because it’s popular, or because it’s worth a lot of money, but because it means something to them. It’s a win-win situation–a lot of great memories and stories for the owner, and a like-new example of an otherwise extinct car for those of us who like to see them!
I’m a big Mopar fan, yet I like seeing almost everything you post here. I own a couple early ’70s Chargers. So, seeing this ’74 Satellite made my day, since spring is upon us and the bug is stirring to get my cars out.
I share the same thoughts as a few commentators here. Didn’t/don’t really care for this style as much as the ’71/’72 styling. I used to own and drive a ’70 Satellite in great condition, and then a ’71 Satellite basket case (but kept it running and looking it’s best as I could) while going to college. I remember test driving a blue ’74 Road Runner with the 400 cu. in. and 4 barrel in the same time frame, but I didn’t have the money to buy it.
Seeing this example posted here, reminds me of a girl in high school that drove a red ’73 Satellite with a black vinyl top. I’ve always liked the overall shape, but didn’t like the grille much. But as said here before, they’ve grown on me, and I have more appreciation seeing them now more than ever. Nice capture!
Ditto! I LOVE my Charger! I had a couple of friends who had the 72 model Satellite Sebring Plus which I liked the best. One had the canopy vinyl roof, and the other had the same style as the featured car. Initially, I was disappointed with the re-style, but time has brought me around!! 🙂
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Charger with those rub strips on the sides, Are they factory? Been such a long time since I’ve seen a non-R/T (real or otherwise) in that state of originality.
No, they were aftermarket by the original owner. 🙂
So, I said I own a couple of early ’70s Chargers (which meant a ’72 and a ’73 Charger). My dream car is a 1969 Charger (with no General Lee decals, thank you). Your ’70 is sweet! Looks like it’s in great shape and you actually drive it! Nice!
I concur with XR7Matt… I’ve never seen side molding like that on any second generation Chargers. Interesting.
Thanks, Mark. I love Plymouths, having grown up in a family that owned three consecutive ones (1971 Duster, ’72 Fury, and ’77 Volaré). Factory recalls on that Volaré ensured that I got plenty of time in the former showroom of Chinonis Chrysler-Plymouth-Dodge on Clio Rd., growing up in Flint, Michigan.
And Elliott, your ’70 Charger, with the looped front bumper, is gorgeous.
Joseph… The ’71 Duster would have been neat! (Another car that I’ve grown to appreciate as we get further and further away from the era it was built in and I have read more about). But… ahhhh! A ’72 Fury! Cool! And was it dark green? 🙂
My grandparents owned a 1969 Plymouth Fury III sedan. Dark green with a dark green vinyl top. And green interior. It was kosher! I remember riding in the back AND FRONT of that car going to church when I was 4 or 5 years old with Grandma, and thinking how upscale it seemed. (Very quiet compared to Dad’s ’72 Charger). I always liked the style of the steering wheel, the dash, the gauges, the rocker switches, and the turn signal indicator lights on the tips of the fenders. Actually the exterior had a muscular feel to it. Neat car! They traded it in for a burgandy ’76 Chrysler Newport.
It’d be neat to see photos of your family’s Plymouths! Or maybe you’ve already posted them here in the past.
I think the unfortunate recalls of Volare/Aspen hurt Chrysler’s sales very much, and Dodge Main is the direct victim of that, when the products had a hard time selling. But Dodge Main is where Volare/Aspen was built, the mistake made in Hamtramck ruined Hamtramck back when Dodge Main was closed. Since then, Hamtramck was never brought back. ( I live in Oak Park, desperate moving from Hamtramck of my roommate explains part of the problem ) Chrysler was quick enough to escape from Highland Park not long after, even though by ’80s it wasn’t that bad yet ( retired employees still have fond memories of that place, which they mentioned during lectures to university students in Southfield ( where AMC was ) but now, it’s beyond any hope in a short while. Telling those stories in my ’78 Volare is an interesting experience though, as that car is deeply integrated into that part of history.
The cars weren’t too common around here when new. My grandmother’s cousin had a 1973 model in burnt orange with a white vinyl roof. The upholstery was bright, striped orange cloth with white vinyl. It’s great to see these Plymouths now, but at the time, I only had eyes for the Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme and Salon, and Pontiac Grand Am.
The 1974 model year marks the end of an era for Plymouth – it was the last time the division would claim the number-three spot in sales. That was on the strength of Valiant and Duster sales. Plymouth sales declined for 1975, and by 1980 the brand was pretty much an afterthought at Chrysler Corporation.
That’s an amazing find for Chicago, considering the make and condition, right down to the whitewalls and OEM wheel covers. Someone has taken care of that car.
Chrysler, for some reason, seemed to have the best luck in being able to integrate the 5mph bumpers, too, with Ford being the absolute worst. In the first years, it was probably due to Chrysler exploiting the way the test was performed. Since they used a solid barrier, they could get away with just using a couple of big rubber bumpers in the front. It would work if you bumped into a big, flat wall, but anything else would cause the same amount of damage as the old 2.5mph bumpers.
That’s an excellent point, about those rubber bumper extension things. Thinking about it, I think only Chrysler and AMC resorted to using those to make their otherwise same-as-1973 rear bumpers meet the new federal impact requirements – thinking specifically of the ponycars (Challenger, Barracuda, Javelin) and a few other models. Ford and GM engineered the living daylights out of the bumper systems for all their ’74 models.
There was discussion in a comment thread last year about exemptions from some aspects of the 5 mph bumper regulations in 1974 (i.e.: the change to an offset vs. flat barrier hit). I believe the Satellite/Charger, Barracuda/Challenger and Javelin were included as they were all in their last model year before a redesign or being discontinued.
I think I recall there was a compliance exemption for cars like the Javelin/Challenger/Cuda until 1975 for some reason, which obviously none made it to. I’ll have to do some googling.
Little did anybody know that this car was later replaced by the Satellite/Savoy Sedan based Fury Coupe which was ironically based from the ancient Satellite chassis shown on this story. Originally Plymouth was supposed to get a Sebring (not Satellite Sebring) Coupe for 1975, but Chrysler instead received this personal coupe and named it Cordoba which was still based from that same outdated Satellite chassis as well. One would think that the same 1971 RWD B-Body platform would continue on to 1981 to become a slightly enlarge RWD R-Body which came to be known as the resurrected Plymouth Gran Fury totally unrelated to RWD smaller M-Body same car as the Plymouth Caravelle (known in Canada) based from the RWD A-Body Plymouth Volare’.
Full size Fury sales died in 1974, and never recovered. This started the long drawn out, eventual demise of Plymouth.
Once one of the ‘low price 3’ and big selling standard size car, ended up a compact* M body in 1981-89.
*Based on “compact” F body, Gran Fury was sold as ‘family size’ in the 80’s, but mostly to fleets.
Your photography is excellent as usual–downtown Chicago makes a really great backdrop! And the car too of course; I actually quite like these Satellite Sebrings, even with the big bumpers. Plus it doesn’t get more green than that! Fantastic time capsule.
Thanks, Chris. The color of the car reminded me of that of a throat lozenge, for some reason, but not in a bad way. “Vicks Green.” I wonder what this (presumably) factory color was called.
Joseph, this is a factory color; I believe that it is called Amber Sherwood.
I thought Amber Sherwood was a porn star.
What a great way to enliven a view of Chicago’s Federal Center (also opened in 1974)! Shows off the renovated, energy efficient lighting in the Mies Post Office beautifully!
Thanks for making my day!
Thanks, Ed! After all the frames I took, I was disappointed to find out that this particular frame had the focus on the background (and not on the car), but thankfully, it showcases the Federal Plaza with a glimpse of Alexander Calder’s “Flamingo” sculpture in the background. 🙂
This Satellite is a perfect example of one of my Mopar pet peeves. Chryco in the 70’s had no problem cobbling together cars where the front and rear wheel well styling doesn’t match. Here they’ve got the new for ’73 front fender/wheel well grafted on to the remnants of the ’71-’72 rear wheel well ‘blister’.
Another example is the Demon, which had the Dart front wheel well paired with the Dusters squarer Valiant rear wheel well. The reverse was done for the Scamp. Drove me nuts then and it still does!
I will say, Chrysler was finally in step with the times with this roofline. They styled it more formally to accept a vinyl top in the Brougham era. The sportier 72 roofline could only accommodate a ‘canopy’ vinyl roof.
Vinyl roof. Ugh. That evil bastard creation has spelled doom for countless otherwise restorable CCs.
indeed. I am spraying several layers of clear coat these days to the seals on my vinyl roof, in hopes to eliminate the leaks of rain water. But still, the foam underneath ( luckily it’s not heavily paddled, otherwise it would be even worse ) can attract moisture after all, and the seals of window frame is beyond my reach. But sealing up two gaps on roof is better than doing nothing. The roof still has few bubbles, fortunately they are still small enough to be invisible until a close look.
Same peeve! That is a detail that once seen cannot be unseen, which is unfortunate since the rest of the restyle is actually quite decent. I still like the 71 & 72 better still but as far as midcycle 70s refreshes go it could have been much worse(like *ahem* the 75s). Chrysler could have at least integrated a subtle blister to the new front fender stampings, I doubt it would have taken away from the look. It’s like looking at two different cars
I never noticed the Demon/Scamp fender mismatches though, damn. I still find those a lot more palatable, I’ve seen clean sheet designs with mismatched openings that actually add to the look(skirted fenders being the most common) so I don’t think it detracts much from either, it just is noticeably cheap when side the two cars are side by side, but then so were the cars. The Satellite has less excuse
Chi-town B-bodies! The wife and I had a great long weekend there a few years ago, capped off by this late-night looker:
Of all the colors Chrysler put on its cars, that metallic green had to be the most repulsive…..and half the cars they sold in the early ’70’s were painted it. Aluminum paint mixed in split pea soup….ugh!
it’s not a great colour but it’s nicer than the barker’s egg brown 4 door which I saw in the mid 70s.
My ’71 Chevy pickup was an almost identical shade of puke green, as was a friend’s Pinto. All of the Big Three overused that color. At least the brown that was also popular back then helped hide the rust.
In the late 70s I came close to buying a lightly used looking 71-72 Sebring in an attractive shade of medium yellow. I really liked the styling and wasn’t that big a fan of Ford/Mercury styling. (At the time Chrysler and Ford were the only brands I seriously considered.)
I didn’t buy that Sebring because it wasn’t a PLUS but even more off-putting was the way too light steering feel coupled with very touchy brakes….just like the 64 Belvedere owned by my mother’s maiden aunt.
While I’m not a big fan of the 5mph bumpers but I personally thought the 1973-74 front end styling was a major improvement over the 1971-72 Chrysler immediate coupes, definitely one of the nicer and best cars built during the 1973-74 time frame.
Nice car , I always love these Chicago Outtake shots
especially when there old Mopars.
In Australia, our Valiants from 1975 used the same hubcaps, with a small stainless cap attached in the centre to conceal the Plymouth lettering.
I have a couple hanging in the garage with the caps removed, proudly displaying the Plymouth Division lettering.
Oh man, I almost hate to admit to this… I’m partially responsible for killing off one of these coupes.
From 1986-1989, a HS buddy of mine and I raced the “street stock” division in the local dirt track scene. We had a bunch of Mopar metal, starting with a 1969 Newport with a 440, then later a 1968 Dodge Coronet (with the same 440, disguised as a 383). Both of those cars met untimely deaths at the track, wrecked beyond repair. In late 1988, after our 68 Coronet met it’s fate at one of the local tracks, my friend found a 1974 Satellite with a factory 400. Being from Northeast Ohio, it was a rust bucket, but the car had been pretty nice in it’s day. It was a nice shade of a medium dark blue with white interior and it had the white vinyl roof and rally wheels.
We did our usual prep for the circuit, which was to strip the car of all unnecessary wiring, glass and interior bits, cut off the roof and lower in a roll cage. We’d then weld the roof back on and weld the doors shut. Relocate the battery to where the right passenger rear seat was, and next to the trunk bulkhead behind the driver we put the fuel cell. Since this was a “street stock” division, we couldn’t weld any reinforcements into the frame or bumpers, so we generally got a pretty big car with lots of “crush” room, but also something that had a punch and could get out of it’s own way. Those Mopars seemed to be light enough and powerful enough to survive anything but head-on or T-bone collisions. The driveline was in plenty good condition (less than 80K miles on the odo) so we used that instead of hoisting that 440 into yet another car.
As we were gearing up for the 1989 season, my partner approached our sponsor (a local Dodge dealer in the next township) to see if he’d sponsor us for our initial effort at autocrossing. Oddly, he did! He sold us a 2.2L Omni and a bunch of suspension parts at near cost. So the Satellite was sidelined. We did OK with autocrossing (we were new to it) but in September 1989, I found out I was going to be a father. I sold my half of the interest in the Omni back to my buddy, and withdrew from the scene. A short time later, my buddy’s parents died, within six months of each other. He was crushed, as he had been very close to his parents.
The Omni and the Satellite sat for a couple more years, until he finally sold them. I never got to see the Satellite turn a wheel in anger as I had moved out of the area by then…
The blue car in the pix is what ours looked like, kind of.
Great shot Joseph. Seeing these cars in action today is a lot of the fun.
My brother actually still has one of these cars, 1974 same green color, black interior, 318 automatic. Nice car.
here is a ”77 photo of MY ’74 baby (a Sebring Plus)…I drove it for 185,000 miles before it was time to part ways in 1979…..click to view and enlarge
It has a period Michigan plate. 185,000 miles sounds like all year round driving, and I can guess why to part ways. I wonder if that has something to do with the dark spot before the wheel well.
I see a restored Satellite Sebring once in a while driving around town. No vinyl top, it’s solid in what appears to be B5 blue and has black vinyl interior with the “tuff” steering wheel that is probably add on, as tons of them were sold. I put one on my ’77 Power wagon that had the, what I called, “Leftover motorhome” steering wheel when I bought it new. I liked the 2 door cars better, as long as they didn’t have the awful looking vinyl top and the usual awful wheel covers on it. My first car I paid for was identical to the dark one in this pic, “Silver Frost Metallic” with red stripes. 360 4 Barrel auto, 3.55 gears. It ran about 15.20 stock, not bad at all back then.
Many believe this is the last ‘true’ Roadrunner and, in hindsight, it probably should have been. The cheap musclecar baton had been passed to the Duster 340/360 years ago and the awful, one-year-only Fury Roadrunner that followed, along with the not-quite-as-awful (but still bad) Volare Roadrunner were really a sad end to the once iconic musclecar.
The continuation of the line might have had something to do with the rights to the name and Warner Bros cartoon. Chrysler had gotten a rather sweetheart deal back in ’68 and it’s quite conceivable that the contract had a provision that once they quit using it, the contract was voided, meaning they’d have to renegotiate to use it again. You can bet that Warner Bros was going to want a whole lot more the second time around so Chrysler was just trying to get as much mileage out of it as they could, not unlike how Ford had to use the ‘Cobra’ nameplate on the Mustang II to maintain the rights to that name.