An underappreciated marque for which we give thanks today is Plymouth. Of course, we love Barracudas, Valiants, Horizons and even Reliant Ks but we’re talking about the senior and intermediate Plymouth. It was Chrysler’s main contender in the low price field that was long dominated by Ford and Chevy. On this day we give thanks for Plymouth’s top tier, rock solid, standard bearers.
By 1960 fins were on their way out; it was the year that, for the first time, Cadillac’s went lower instead of higher. The downward move by Cadillac was a true bellwether but Plymouth gave it one last towering hurrah with this ’60 Fury convertible complete with “sport deck,” a fake spare tire imprinted on the trunk lid which some suggested resembled a toilet seat. This black on black example was snapped on-the-run by Feral Cars Field Scout Amy Treco . This was the first year of unit body construction for Plymouth, the selling point of this commercial that uses a cover version of Big Joe Turner’s “Shake, Rattle and Roll” to get the message across.
Things simmered down by the end of the decade and the look was not anywhere as outrageous as it had been a few years earlier. This ’68 Satellite was a mid-size entrant that did battle with Chevy’s Chevelle, Ford’s Fairlane, AMC’s Rebel and corporate cousin Coronet from Dodge. We found this plain Jane Satellite sedan in Palo Alto, California where it’s obviously been well cared for. We like the fact that it’s neither a glitzy hardtop nor convertible but a real blue collar Plymouth, reflective of the brand’s working class roots.
The Palo Alto Plymouth’s less-well-cared-for doppelganger was spotted in Nashville and we like its tough guy persona. Who needs hubcaps anyway?
Feral Cars Field Scout Alex “Love Tap” Vickers shot this stunner from a moving car; it’s a ’69 GTX convertible in screaming red with black rocker panels and white top and interior. We’re sure the Puritans didn’t have something like this in mind when they chowed down at that first giblet fest so long ago. This thing looks more devilish than a Salem coven. Va-va-voom!
Jumping around from era to era, tossing aside concerns for chronology, we note that Plymouth always seemed quite different than its Ford and Chevy competitors. This Briar Rose and Eggshell White ’56 Belvedere carries the mark of designer Virgil Exner’s “Forward Look” on its sweeping rear fenders; no low price GM or FoMoCo product of the time was more jet age-inspired than this. Thanks to Feral Cars Scout Candice Miller Crossley for this view that offers lots in the way of hindsight.
We now set the ‘way back machine for 1951 and a chance to view this paradoxically pimped-out Cranbrook sedan, laden with after-market accessories. These include dual tear drop spotlights, amber fog lights mounted on the front bumper, a full sun visor and period-appropriate wide whitewalls. This generation preceded the introduction of a V8 option which both Plymouth and Chevy finally offered in 1955. Our feature car is powered by a 217 cubic inch flat head six that developed an adequate 97 horsepower. Obviously, Plymouth’s muscle car day had not dawned.
After fins had run their course, Plymouth went off on an “out there” tangent with this ’62 Sport Fury. It was oddly futuristic looking and had been downsized from the previously year though to contemporary eyes it still looks quite huge. The car was a sales disappointment and Exner took the fall for it and was shown the door. Just the same, and for reasons we can’t fully explain, it’s among our all-time favorite Plymouths. The styling that some found off-putting we think is totally swingin’. There’s another red ’62 Sport Fury that’s for sale here it’s damn expensive –$45K — and it’s not even a convertible. Who’s unloved now, huh?
Plymouth would regain its conservative footing in later years as evidenced by this non-confrontational, straight-as-an-arrow ’65 Belvedere II. It’s quirk-free look was a sales winner, as you might expect.
This ’66 hardtop, which could be a Belvedere or Satellite — it’s just too dark and too fast to make a positive i.d. — has a sinister presence that is, perhaps, frightening to the faint of heart. It’s really at odds with the bourgeois bent of that upstanding sedan on which its based, no?
Just as Elvis Presley rose to fame and Dwight Eisenhower embarked on his second Presidential campaign, the “Forward Look” made itself very evident with this ’56 Belvedere. That zig-zaggy white lower body inset was a somewhat anomalous touch on a staid sedan but the fins seem to justify this kind of flamboyance.
We have to point out that we come from a MoPar family where dad drove a Chrysler and mom a Plymouth. Here’s Brother Eddie screwing around with a fire extinguisher between our ’53 New Yorker hardtop and mom’s completely bare bones (no radio!) ’51 Cambridge two-door sedan.
Just 90 miles south of Florida we found another ’51 Cambridge, this one serving as a Havana taxi cab. Who knows when the cormorant hood ornament, the contrasting fender skirts and rear fender- mounted stop lights were added but that’s beside the point. This car is testimony to endurance and utility. We think that’s reason enough to give thanks.
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