1957 Plymouth Fury Performance

Like the 1956 model, the 1957 Plymouth Fury arrived slightly behind the rest of the line, and Plymouth retained a limited production schedule for it. Exner retained the previous off-white and gold color scheme, and it looked better than ever on the much sleeker new body.

He removed the anodized gold from the wheel covers, which were now just slightly modified stock units, and applied it instead to the entire grille. Bumper extenders, optional on lesser Plymouths, were standard on the Fury, which added 1 1/2 inches to overall 1957 length.

1957 plymouth fury
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
The 1957 Plymouth Fury was touted for its sleeker body.

Like its lesser linemates, the Fury rode a three-inch longer (118-inch) wheelbase and measured a startling 5.5 inches lower. Wheel diameter shrunk an inch, and tire size increased to 8.00 x 15.

As before, optional equipment included "Full-Time" power steering, power brakes, air conditioning, electric seat and windows, whitewalls and, though not prominently advertised, dealer-installed seatbelts. Standards included two-tone steering wheel, variable-speed electric wipers, padded dash and sun-visors, foam-rubber seat cushions, and a "sweep-second self-regulating watch."

1957 plymouth fury interior
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
1957 Fury interiors featured a custom instrument panel and two-tone steering wheel.

But once more, the big news was mechanical. The Plymouth Fury now bored the Canadian 303 to 318 cubic inches (bore and stroke: 3.91 x 3.31 inches) and fitted dual four-barrel carbs. Retained from 1956 were the high-compression heads, domed pistons, free-flow dual exhausts, high-lift cam, and heavy-duty valve springs.

Dubbed "V-800," this powerplant delivered a hefty 290 horsepower and 325 lbs/ft peak torque. (Incidentally, it was also an option for any 1957 Plymouth from high-line Belvedere down to detrimmed Plaza, which made the latter quite a Q-ship and inspired a neat ad at the expense of Chevy.)

Icing on the 1957 cake was provided by what would prove to be one of the finest automatic transmissions in industry history, Chrysler's new three-speed TorqueFlite. Still with pushbutton control, it pulled a 3.36:1 rear axle in the Plymouth Fury, with other ratios available for both it and the standard heavy-duty "three-on-the-tree."

1957 plymouth fury transmission
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
Pushbuttons controlled the Fury's TorqueFlite three-speed automatic transmission.

On top of all this was Chrysler's new corporate-wide torsion-bar independent front suspension. A solid improvement on the old setup, it provided effortless high-speed cruising, competence on rough surfaces, and a new level of handling precision. Plymouth was easily the best-handling of the "Low-Priced Three" this year.

With its heavy-duty suspension components, the Plymouth Fury was exceptional. "The Fury will power through hard turns, can be drifted by a true believer," wrote Motor Trend editor Joe Wherry. "The only handling minus was the lack of self-centering action inherent in the power steering system, but the fast steering (a shade under 3 1/2 turns lock to lock) allowed quick corrections."
While any well-driven Plymouth Fury could show its heels to a fuelie Chev or a standard Ford on a winding road, what everybody wanted to know about was straightline performance. The Fury had it.

Wherry's test car leaped from 0 to 60 mph in 8.7 seconds, though admittedly with the benefit of stickshift. He guessed a well-broken-in example would do that in eight seconds flat, and estimated top speed at 120 mph. "For the ordinary driver, this car is a potential handful," he confessed.

Though the Fury's base price was still under $3,000, most 1957s went out the door at around $3,500 (Belvedere V-8 hardtops cost only $2,449). Nevertheless, there still appeared to be a sizable market for this premium flyer, because model year production was 7,438, the three-year high for the Fury as a separate offering.

Plymouth perhaps overdid things by running ads in which sporting gentlemen were shown sipping Scotches before a fire-place, with a painting of the 1957 hung over the mantel. But make no mistake: the division did have a very special car here.

The Fury's main problem was common to most every car Chrysler built that season: susceptibility to the dreaded tinworm. Rust claimed a high number of the 1957s -- and 1958s, too -- one of the reasons so few survive today.

Sadly, the Fury was only destined to last one more year. Keep reading to learn about the last Fury model.

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