Trackside Classic: 1967 Plymouth Sport Fury – Cognitive Dissonance

According to Psychology Today, “cognitive dissonance is a term for the state of discomfort felt when two or more modes of thought contradict each other,” and one need not have a degree in psychology to know that everybody has suffered from the pangs of regret when faced with the possibilities of the road less traveled. Chrysler Corporation is perhaps the most apt corporate metaphor for this psychological phenomenon, as every manifestation of corporate leadership outside of Walter Chrysler himself, and perhaps Lee Iacocca, has had to look in the mirror at the end of the day and make up a good story.  This 1967 Sport Fury I recently spotted in the parking lot of a drag strip is proof that I am guilty of mixing my metaphors.

John Greenleaf Whittier wrote, “For of all sad words of tongue or pen, The saddest are these: ‘It might have been!'”  After rereading Charles Hyde’s retrospective on the Chrysler Corporation titled Riding the Roller Coaster, I knew there was a car in my photograph files that would represent a company that had crested the wave of good fortune and was soon to become the latest of cautionary tales in American business.  In essence, Lynn Townsend could not transcend his propensity for reducing the vagaries of the auto business to some figures on a spreadsheet; therefore, he made some mistakes that would have long reaching effects, such as the Sales Bank and a somewhat undercooked expansion into foreign markets.

It’s hard to tell by looking at a 1967 Fury, however, that the struggles had once again begun.

In its “Fast Top” form, the Fury is certainly handsome, a reimagined continuation of the crisp 1965 models that were among the first to emerge from Elwood Engel’s styling department.  Still a couple years away from the arguably more polarizing fuselage Fury, the 1967 models maintained the boxy yet elegant origami look that made Chrysler products appealing to those who appreciated conservative styling and intelligent engineering.

Regarding my earlier reference to the Fury’s roofline: One could order a Sport Fury two-door hardtop in two varieties: standard or “Fast Top.”  Many a buyer must have been a victim of some gut-wrenching, soul-searching nights when faced with a decision where neither alternative is particularly disagreeable.  But I digress.

What makes the featured Fury so captivating is its overall condition – it’s a contradiction.  My preference for well-worn vintage cars is a matter of record, but establishing the owner’s goal with this nearly perfect for me Fury has captured my imagination.  Replacing the peeling vinyl top seems like an easy decision that would not create the pangs of regret that a whole new paint job might.

After all, the paint job is perfect.  Almost certainly original, its cracks and crazes and thin spots free the owner from car cocoon purgatory.  Repainting over what nature has thus far wrought would be criminal; you’ll never get it back, nor can you recreate it.

But I think the owner might be vacillating.  A new vinyl top might tip the scales and push him/her into an expensive decision that will cause less happiness – a classic case of dissonance.

On the other hand, the Fury has a beautiful and expensive new set of redline bias ply tires and immaculate sporty hubcaps that look for all the world that they were borrowed from a Barracuda.

Its interior is almost equally unblemished, with only a loose seam on the seat betraying man’s relentlessly futile pursuit of perfection.  How can two diverging properties, man-made perfection and natural perfection, possibly cross contaminate?  Indeed, what is the goal of man and his vintage Plymouths?  Is it the ignorant “oohs” and “aahs” of those who are drawn to the hollow veneer of a five-figure paint job?  Or is it the knowing appreciation of those who appreciate the fact that the imperfect is not only sometimes paradoxically more perfect, but also cheaper?

My inherent bias makes my opinion predictable, but there truly is no right answer, and only man stands at the edge of the vacant cavern that is his own decision.  And thus stands this Fury as stood Chrysler in 1967, one decision away from bliss or woe.  Which is which?

As for my recommendation?  It’s not worth the binary code in which it’s written, but I’d put a vinyl top on it and be done.  It’s one of the few things in life I wouldn’t lose sleep over.