The 1969 Plymouth options were plentiful, starting at the top. During 1967 and 1968, Fury two-door hardtops boasted two distinctive rooflines. One employed a thin C-pillar resembling a slanted parallelogram; the other, the "Fast Top," sported a wider triangular C-pillar.
The 1969 Plymouth Fury III four-door hardtop did
well in the marketplace, selling 68,818 units.
In the 1969 Fury III, Sport Fury, and VIP lines, a choice of two-door hardtops was again offered: "regular" or "formal." The formal hardtop, adapted from the Fury I and II two-door pillared coupe, had a C-pillar whose crisp trailing edge was coupled with a concave backlight.
This roof and backlight was essentially the roof used on the four-door sedans and hardtops, which meant that they, too, had the "formal" look. By contrast, the C-pillar of the regular hardtop had a smoother, more rounded appearance coupled with a convex backlight.
Fury III and Sport Fury formal hardtops were priced $20 more than the regular hardtops, while VIP buyers could have their choice at no increase in price. These formal hardtops didn't arrive until January, indicating a late decision on the part of Plymouth planners. Perhaps they shouldn't have bothered -- given the choice, most buyers opted for the regular roofline.
If you ordered any Fury III, Sport Fury, or VIP two-door hardtop with Airtemp air conditioning, the front vent windows were eliminated, adding to visibility and giving a cleaner look.
Abetting this austere appearance, all big Plymouths boasted concealed windshield wipers, parked unobtrusively in a gap between the hood and windshield. This attribute was a direct result of Pontiac's pioneering this feature beginning with its 1967 models.
Designers at Ford and Chrysler were somewhat in awe of the big Pontiacs during the 1960s, and once we "saw" the hidden wipers, we had to have them (at a cost of about $7.85 per car), too.
Ironically, the best-looking big Plymouths in 1969 were the station wagons, available in Suburban, Custom Suburban, and Sport Suburban guises. Unlike other body types, the Suburbans' rear wheels were fully exposed, visually lightening the rear quarters.
Furthermore, the roofs, with their long rectangular quarter windows, were also lighter looking. One new touch was the design of the D-pillar, which wrapped up and over the roof plane, acting to deflect the air downward past the tailgate window, keeping the glass free of dust.
Also new to Plymouth's big wagons was a two-way tailgate, lowering like a conventional tailgate or opening like a door. Sport Suburbans were easily identified by the simulated wood paneling on their long flanks. Due to their unique styling, Suburban taillights were always different from the other passenger cars.
The engine lineup was identical to 1968, with the hardy 225-cid Slant Six reserved for Fury I, II, and III sedans and two-door hardtops, and the base Suburban. As can be imagined, with this 145-bhp engine in these big cars, performance was marginal.
The standard V-8 was Chrysler's trusty workhorse of 318 cubes, with a 383-cid V-8 offered in 290-bhp (Commando) and 330-bhp (Super Commando) versions. A 375-horsepower, 440-cid Super Commando V-8 was optional on all models except the Suburbans, where a 350-horse 440 Commando V-8 was substituted.
Also available was the Turnpike Cruising Package consisting of a two-barrel 383 V-8 with speed control, power front disc brakes, a 2.76:1 economy axle ratio, undercoating, and a signal to warn of turned-on headlights. Prices ranged from $2,701 for a six-cylinder Fury I coupe to $3,718 for a three-seat Sport Suburban.
Following a long-established marketing practice, a variety of mid-year packages were introduced to stimulate sales, including Fury III, Sport Fury, and VIP "Specials," plus additional "A" and "B" equipment packages on the Fury III.
One of the rarest of the midyear 1969 Plymouths was a surreal "spring special" based on the Fury III two-door hardtop. The expected extras like deluxe interior, deluxe wheel covers, whitewalls, etc. were included, but the name was something else.
The Plymouth Snapper was billed as "the sleek, stylish, limited edition cousin of the Road Runner." Body color was gold, and the exclusive turtle-shell vinyl roof sported a camp Snapper name on a turtle image on the C-pillar.
Bizarre? You bet. Who would name a car after a turtle? In newspaper ads, the Snapper was illustrated in the larger-than-life cartoon style reserved for the Road Runner. Did some sales wizard hope part of the Runner's hip image might rub off on the big Plymouths?
Perhaps even more rare were the efforts of a Toledo, Ohio, dealer who apparently "did his own thing," advertising a "1969 1/2 Plymouth Diplomat" priced at $2,445, which appeared to be a Fury pillared coupe with Sport Fury ornamentation. It is these dealer initiatives and/or regional models that are the most difficult for automotive historians to discover and document.
In reminiscing about the first of the "fuselage Furys," Clayton was philosophical about the studio's effort, saying, "In the end, we had to write off the 1969 and hope to make good on the 1970."
Yet, his assessment wasn't shared by the buying public as Fury production (including a couple Canada-only models) rose to 370,035, some 17,000 cars more than in 1968. Moreover, the 1969 proved to be the most popular version of the five-year run through 1973.
Despite their bland beginnings, these big Plymouths actually got better looking and more stylish throughout the life of the basic body shell. Considering that face-lifts usually have the reverse effect, this was no mean feat.
Continue on to the next page to read about some of the improved features of the 1970 Plymouth.
For more information on cars, see: