Monday, September 10, 2012


Spotted on the street near my house the other night. It's a fourth generation Plymouth Fury, made some time between 1965 and '68 - I'm nowhere near car-geeky enough to tell you precisely when. (UPDATE: It's a '66 - I just looked at the vanity plate.) The name of this car probably wrote cheques its ass couldn't cash, but I still think it look fabulous, especially in the silver paint under street lights. It's like the opening chord of a Bruce Springsteen song - if Springsteen songs were anywhere near as good as his fans presume them to be.

That said, it did come with a 426 V8, and as my brother reminded me the other day, even my Dad's Buick had the sort of power you don't expect from anything but a muscle car or a tuner these days. This one hasn't been chopped or visibly modded, so I assume the owner keeps it stock. (And doesn't drive it between December and April.)

It bears repeating that the '60s - not the '50s, and certainly not the '70s - were Detroit's golden age. The age of tailfins and bulbous deco car bodies was over, and designers went about the business of making the cars look as fast as their increasingly powerful engines actually made them go. The zenith of this is probably the Mustang, but its design aesthetic - less chrome, long lines, agonizing thought put into key details like the grille and the silhouette - dominated the industry, resulting in a decade of cars that look like they want to be driven, not parked (the '50s) or rolled off cliffs (the '70s.)

The Fury in particular - could you imagine anyone giving a car this name today? - was Plymouth's top of the line, a spot which in almost any other car brand would be occupied by a full-sized luxury sedan or a big-ticket sports car. The Fury looked best as a coupe, however, and seemed targeted toward the suburban dad who hadn't quite given up yet - the guy who stuffs his son's little league friends in the back, and does a few white-knuckle runs down the side streets near the industrial park before driving them home. The guy who always drives the babysitter home and lets her choose the radio station.

"You know, Donna, the name's kind of stupid, but the Electric Prunes aren't all that bad."

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