What was perhaps the most distinctive big model, the 1970 Plymouth Fury Gran Coupe, was announced in late December. The idea for the Gran Coupe came in part from product planner Gordon Cherry and from Clayton's own personal lease car, a 1969 440 V-8 Fury II coupe, black with a black interior and black vinyl roof, which he fitted with inverted chrome wheels and special tires.
"The car got a lot of attention anywhere I took it," Clayton remembers. "I told Gordon about it and then gave him the car for a weekend. He had the same experience. ... He came back Monday morning saying, 'Maybe you have something here.' That essentially sold Gordon, then he sold the idea for the Gran Coupe."
Based off the Fury II fixed-pillar coupe, the Gran Coupe was equipped with many luxury cues that belied its humble origins. These included the Sport Fury grille and hidden headlamps, vinyl roof in standard colors or new paisley-patterned texture, vinyl-insert bodyside molding, wheel-lip moldings, deluxe wheel covers, and white sidewall tires.
Other equipment included a two-barrel 383 V-8, TorqueFlite automatic transmission, power steering and brakes, plus other assorted convenience and interior features. Though other combinations were available, the feature color was walnut, with a matching paisley vinyl roof and interior. In this guise, the car looked impressive and "dressy."
In its "A" package version (with air conditioning and tinted glass), the Gran Coupe, at $4,216, became the most expensive big Plymouth of the year, stickering at $318 more than the Fury GT. Even its $3,833 "B" package variant (minus air and tinted glass) was more costly than all but the GT. Yet advertisements claimed the Gran Coupe cost $233 less than a comparable Ford LTD, $348 less than a Chevrolet Caprice.
Here was a mid-year model that in some ways was as unlikely as the 1969 Snapper. Considering that the Gran Coupe had a low-line base, yet was simultaneously the highest-priced full-sized Plymouth, the profit margin must have been phenomenal.
Production totals were buried amid the Fury II coupe stats, but some idea of the popularity of the Gran Coupe can be ascertained by noting that assemblies of Fury II coupes shot up from 3,268 units in 1969 to 21,316 cars in 1970 -- even while overall demand for big Plymouths was going down.
The expensive alterations to the 1970 Fury were remedial in that they were designed to "fix up" a design no one was particularly happy with. Yet their improved appearance unfortunately did not result in increased sales.
Assemblies dropped to 265,955 cars, a substantial decline of more than 100,000 units compared to 1969. However, largely because of the hot new Duster, overall sales increased, enabling Plymouth to capture the coveted third-place position it had not held since 1960.
To follow the Plymouth models into 1971, continue on to the next page.
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