(William Rubano has made the Cohort even better by posting this Satellite.)
One of the perks of writing for an automotive website is the ability to carry a torch for a make and/or model that resonates with you. If one is to peruse the archives of this site, which is a vast undertaking, they would find many of the various contributors tend to have a special affinity for a particular marque or vehicle type.
For whatever reasons, I have discovered myself carrying a pretty intensely burning torch for the 1971 to 1978 four-door B-bodies from Chrysler Corporation. It could be a whole lot worse, I suppose; somebody could be carrying a torch for the dearly departed Mercury. Oh wait; that’s me, also. Various other makes and models are still available if you are interested.
Thinking about it, I’ve been carrying this Mopar B-body torch for a while.
What is the genesis of this torch-bearing? No doubt some sour cynic thinks the best use of this torch would be to throw it in the front seat of this Satellite and watch what happens. But this is a fabulous Satellite and it gives perfect illumination to why I have realized having this torch.
The knee-jerk reaction about my carrying this torch would attribute it to over-exposure gained from various movies and films. As a child, I did watch entirely too much television, but I’m making up for it these days. I currently watch nothing but Weather Nation and an occasional rerun of 1960s and 1970s era television comedies. However, the theory about excessive exposure would certainly have some compelling arguments.
If one does a search for “1973 Plymouth Satellite” at the Internet Movie Cars Database (www.imcdb.org) they will be greeted with five pages full of two diametrically opposed offerings. This opposition greatly mimics what Chrysler was doing with the Satellite from 1971 to 1974.
Here’s a random choice. Nearly every 1973 Satellite sedan is wearing police or taxi livery. Shocking, isn’t it? For the few that aren’t, they appear to be undercover police cars. The bad guys don’t drive them, the non-constabulary hero isn’t driving one, even the crusty old lady down the street doesn’t have one parked in the driveway. There is no apparent diversity of end-use.
About the most diversity to be found is the colors used by the local police and taxi companies.
One observation about the various films and television shows utilizing the 1973 Satellite is the time period for which they were used as props. Granted, these Satellites were undoubtedly obtained for movie use after several years in service with whomever; it’s hard to imagine many movie studios shelling out coin for new ones when they could wait three years and buy them for pennies on the dollar. But some of these shows were produced as late as the early 1990s – nearly twenty years later. These certainly have amazing staying power for still being foisted-off as active-duty cars that much later.
Seriously, how many 1999 and 2000 model Ford Crown Victorias are still in active service plying the streets and highways of North America? Remarkably few. I haven’t seen a Crown Victoria in active use for several years now. These have moved on to be replaced by the Charger and Explorer.
When searching the results at imcdb.org, the exact opposite is the case with the two-door Satellite. It’s the car of the bad guy, it’s the car of the good guy, it’s the car seen in the background, etc. It offers up all manner of diversity in its use. It’s rather interesting how two fewer doors and slightly different sheetmetal can morph the same basic car into something with an unlimited assortment of possibilities.
Yet all this exposure to the vapidity of popular culture, particularly that of the 1970s and 1980s, isn’t why I have picked up a torch for these. And, for that matter, picking up the torch wasn’t an intentional act. Like acne and gray hair, it just sort of happened organically.
Could the reasons for having this torch be much broader and more thought provoking? To fully explain this life altering epiphany, could it be said these B-body sedans are in harmonious alliance with the core components of my personality, it being an unwavering reflection of my psyche and the fundamental core of my persona? Of all the innumerable automotive choices ever offered over time, could it be said these 1971 to 1978 B-body sedans are the most comprehensive embodiment of me as a unique person, that one automobile we all have that truly reflects the uncompromisable essence of who I am as a mortal human being?
That would be grossly overthinking it. The actual reasons finally coalesced and found a home a while back, much like the Skylab satellite did by settling in western Australia in 1979.
This grand realization was prompted by a washing machine.
Back in April our washing machine died. It was a dandy looking thing, full of bells and whistles and other assorted eye-trinkets that really made for a fancy and upscale looking appliance that was great fun to look at when operating in a dark room. However this machine didn’t even last five years before the motherboard annihilated itself. It was so bad the local appliance repair store said it wasn’t worth fixing.
After this Space Odyssey looking mistake, we sought something sturdy, reliable, and without any gimmicks.
We bought a Speed Queen, the brand of choice in laundromats far and wide. If seeking a rugged machine, this is truly worthy of consideration. Weighing about twice what the old one did, it reeks of a long service life even if its presentation is nowhere near as fancy. It’s a straight-forward machine and, while it may use a splash more water, it does an infinitely better job of what it was built to do. One can hear water sloshing around the inside during the wash cycle. What a concept! We had not heard that in years.
It also has two magic words emblazoned on the front: Commercial and Heavy-Duty. We all have words that elicit a Pavlovian response, mine being “commercial”, “heavy-duty”, and “industrial”. These words could easily be applied to this no-nonsense Satellite.
Such traits greatly appeal to me. I’m not one for superfluous gimmicks and, when dealing with people, if I have to say something, I get straight to the point. Looking at this particular Satellite, it is obvious it possesses many of these glorious traits.
Isn’t it beautiful? Look at it; there’s no vinyl roof.
As an aside, yes, I’d imagine the larger set of bumper guards were added. It’s in New York and perhaps these could be considered a self-defense mechanism.
Contrast that to the most commonly seen form of Ford Torino. Naturally one could get a plain Torino, my parents even bought one new, but it was easier to find a plain Satellite.
The hubcaps are just that – they serve their purpose with nothing more being promised or implied. These do seem far superior in stamina to fancier wheel covers.
The flanks are unencumbered with metal trim, vinyl hangers-on, and any other decorative paraphernalia. This gives insight into the true car, not the car as presented by those wishing to make a sale, a car covered in decoration.
This Satellite presents itself in a figurative nudity, letting its true and natural self shine through. There’s a lot to like here. We periodically talk about honest cars; this Plymouth is as honest and unpretentious as any car ever built. Such elegant simplicity should be celebrated.
The reason for my carrying the Mopar B-body torch can be summarized by any one of these pictures. This car has an appeal that escapes many but once it’s captured you, there is no going back. The world is truly a better place for this Satellite being so down to earth.
1977-1978 Plymouth Fury by JS
1971 Plymouth Satellite by JS
1974 Dodge Coronet by JS
1978 Plymouth Fury by PN
1978 Dodge Monaco by PN