(first posted 2/11/2013) I think it is safe to say that most of us here at CC are familiar with the origins of the Great Brougham Epoch. In a nutshell, pony cars took the sporty car buyers away from the full-size camp, and the Big Three saw they were going to have to come up with the Next Best Thing to keep sales of their biggies at a solid clip. Enter the Brougham, beginning with Pontiac. Ford got the ball rolling for the low-priced three, followed closely by Chevrolet. A bit late to the Brougham party was Plymouth, with the VIP.
The VIP displaced the Sport Fury as the top big Plymouth in 1966, one year after the LTD and Caprice. And just like its competition, the VIP had the soon-to-be-typical chrome additions, plusher interior, vinyl roof and wood-grained dash and door panels. Although clearly a member of the Fury line, the VIP received its own special brochure apart from the Sport Fury and Furys III, II and I. Initially available only as a four-door hardtop (a hardtop coupe came a bit later), it was marketed as a Plymouth for folks who wanted the finer things in life. Despite gilding the lily of the already well-equipped Sport Fury, the VIP looked as good as any of the other 1966 Mopar full-sizers, thanks to Elwood Engel’s attractive styling.
But new plans were afoot for the ’67 model year. While the ’66 Plymouths were most attractive in your author’s opinion, their squared-off styling was a little out of style with the advent of GM’s swoopy 1965 Chevrolets. So in 1967 somewhat softer styling presented itself to C-P dealership visitors. Especially attractive was the new “Fast Top” roofline, as shown above. While a conventional notchback roofline was also available, the Fast Top was limited to only the Sport Fury and VIP hardtop coupes.
Yes, of course the VIP returned, with plenty of new Broughamtastic features, particularly in the interior. Several square feet of Di-Noc graced the doors and lower instrument panel, along with a filigreed gold medallion that would not look out of place as a belt buckle at Studio 54 just a few years hence.
While you had your choice of roofs on coupes, that was not the case with full-size Plymouth sedans, unless you count pillared and non-pillared variants. The VIP remained available only as a hardtop coupe or four-door hardtop. The VIP four door is shown here, and looks particularly fetching in black over red, with the snazzy turbine-style wheel covers. The VIP sedan sold a bit better than the coupe, to the tune of 10,830 units, and started at $3182 ($21,872 adjusted). Most of them likely went out the door for a fair bit more than that.
It seems strange that Plymouth didn’t offer the VIP as a convertible; that remained the domain of the Sport Fury. Drop-top aficionados had to shell out $3279 for a Sport Fury, or a Fury III version that was a little less dear, at $3118. Perhaps that was best. Convertibles are by nature sporty, and a full VIP treatment may have been at odds with the folding roof. Those filigreed belt buckles on the door could tarnish, after all.
Here we have the notchback Fury III hardtop coupe. Although nicely styled, that angular roofline had been around on Plymouths and Dodges since 1963 and looked a little behind the times; compare it to, say, a ’67 LTD and you’ll see what I mean. You could also get this body style as a Sport Fury.
Cheapest big Plymouth was the Fury I two-door sedan. Priced at $2473, it was also seldom seen, thanks to only 6,647 being made. Believe it or not, a six-cylinder was standard equipment in almost all Fury I, II and III models, though the Fury II/III wagons and Fury III four-door hardtop and convertible did come with the 318 V8. The Plymouth Six was, of course, the bulletproof 225 CID Slant Six with a single-barrel carb and 145 horsepower. The smaller 170 CID Slant Six was not available, being confined to the Valiant line.
All 1967 full-size Plymouths, regardless of model, got standard carpeting, armrests, heater/defroster, back-up lights, dual brake system, an energy-absorbing steering column and seatbelts. While none of those sounded really exciting to someone ordering a fully-loaded VIP, I imagine it warmed skinflints’ hearts when they were selecting a Fury I.
The VIP remained the top of the line, and as such featured prominently in Plymouth advertising, along with the Sport Fury and new-for-’67 Barracuda. The two-model VIP line featured all Fury III equipment in addition to faux walnut interior trim, Deluxe gold-fleck cloth upholstery with vinyl bolsters, Deluxe wheel covers (those cool turbine wheel covers were optional), 15″ wheels, light group and Flow-Through ventilation.
VIPs came standard with a 230-hp 318 V8, breathing through a two-barrel Carter carburetor. If that wasn’t enough scoot for you, a 2BBL, 270-hp 383 ($70), 4BBL, 325-hp 383 ($120) or the top-of-the-heap 4BBL, 375-hp 440 CID V8 ($268) could be installed.
While the VIP was pretty well equipped, with its sparkly upholstery and extra chrome gewgaws, you could easily tack on an additional $500 or $1000 in options if you wanted to. Popular options included power brakes ($42), power steering ($95) front disc brakes ($70), and Auto-Pilot cruise control ($83).
Less popular options included air conditioning (a princely $338), power windows ($100), bench seat leather trim (VIP only, $104) and Road Wheels ($76). I was a bit surprised to learn you could get a leather interior on a Plymouth in the ’60s; I always thought that the only ones so equipped were the ’90s Grand Voyager LEs and the Prowler.
The 3630-lb. VIP hardtop coupe started at $3117, $65 cheaper than the VIP four-door hardtop. It was also the less-popular model of the two-car line, with 7,912 finding buyers.
As the 1967 VIP production suggests, the model never really took off, certainly not like the LTD and Caprice. Why is anyone’s guess, but for some, “Sport Fury” may have sounded a lot better than “VIP.” Personally, I like VIP better than LTD, partly because no one knows exactly what “LTD” is supposed to mean!
Apparently Plymouth must have agreed with the car-buying public, as the VIP last appeared for the 1969 model year. In 1970, the Sport Fury once again ruled the Plymouth roost, with a new four-door hardtop model standing in for the ’69 VIP version. Eventually, the Gran Fury moniker became the top of the line, but even it never reached the sales success of its Broughamy Chevy and Ford competition.
I found our featured VIP in mid-December, right at the tail-end of unseasonal weather in the mid-40s. I was driving along 14th Avenue in Rock Island when I spotted some distinctive stacked headlamps on a side street. Could that have been a Plymouth? Nah, probably a Cadillac. Still, I had to go around the block and check.
This may well be the only full-size ’67 Plymouth I have ever seen in person. That it was a scarce VIP instead of a more common Sport Fury or Fury III was the icing on the cake. I was a bit disappointed that it was in such a plain color combination–a red vinyl top and interior would have looked so good–but was still suitably impressed.
You can see it has had some rust repair in the past, judging from the lighter patches of white on the rear quarter panels, but it was in quite solid shape. For sale, too, if any of you live near the Quad Cities and have to have a Curbside Classic of your very own!