1971 Plymouth

Although the original product plan had called for major sheetmetal changes to the back end, this money was reassigned to help pay for tooling the 1971 Plymouth's all-new mid-size. Consequently, changes to that year's big Plymouths were minimal.

Just 375 of the final 1971 Plymouth GTs were built.
Just 375 of the final 1971 Plymouth GTs were built.

Up front, on exposed headlamp cars, was a new aluminum mesh grille, deeply veed and finely textured in section, bisected horizontally by a narrow slotted opening. A Fury nameplate on a red background was set into the lower plane adjacent to the left-side headlamps. This was a smart workout, especially compared to the flat grille plane of the previous year.

Disappearing headlamp jobs also received new grillework. Graphically much busier, the grille texture was composed of eight horizontal rectangles, each filled with short, vertical bars. The flat, vertical grille plane was moved forward to the lip of the loop bumper for a much more "in-your-face" look than the recessed grille of the previous year.

Thorley, in pushing for the hidden lamps for the 1970 model, cited safety, reasoning that hiding the lamps protected them from dirt. Now, in 1971, you could order power-operated washers ($29.30) tucked behind the headlamp doors that would scrub the outboard headlights with small nylon brushes -- but only with the lights on. Hoods were new once again, this time with a simple center windsplit.

Out back was a new rear bumper. This was surprising in that it was an unusual place to spend money in a minor face-lift year. The license plate was mounted in the center of the bumper and flanked once again by horizontal taillights -- simple rectangles on Fury I and II; longer, more elaborate lamps on Fury III and Sport Fury.

In either case, backup lamps were incorporated within the taillight lenses. Additionally, to guard against dents and scratches, Sport Furys sported urethane rear-bumper appliqu├ęs color-keyed to the vinyl body side molding and optional boar-grain vinyl roof.

Several models were cut from the Fury lineup. The convertible was history, but compensating sunroofs were added as optional on any two-door "regular" hardtop. The pillared coupe was dropped, so the Fury II two-door became a full-fledged hardtop while the Fury I adopted the same roofline, but with fixed rear-quarter windows.

Gone, too, was the S/23. Appearing for the last time was the Sport Fury GT, nicely outfitted with attractive, full-length hood striping that encompassed outsized GT outline letters near the base of the windshield, plus smaller versions on the rear quarter panels.

Other neat touches included three rectangular diecast "outlets" mounted inboard on the front fender tops, with turn-signal indicators incorporated into the forward rectangle. Only the four-barrel 440 V-8 engine was available. Priced at $4,111 and in production for less than half the model year, a mere 375 were built.

The return of the successful Gran Coupe was announced in late November 1970, about a month and a half after the introduction of the rest of the Fury line. Though based this time on the Fury III, the formula was the same, employing the Sport Fury hidden-headlamp grille and a host of luxury accessories.

Two equipment packages were offered, again primarily delineated by the presence of air conditioning. Furthermore, buyers now had a choice of body styles: the formal two-door hardtop or -- despite the incongruity of the Gran Coupe name -- a four-door hardtop.

Hoping that lightning would strike twice, Plymouth planners in January added a similar special model based on the Fury I called the Fury Custom. Kind of a poor man's Gran Coupe, it was available in coupe and four-door sedan versions.

Offered with either a 225-cid Slant Six or a 318-cube V-8, the Fury Custom had a distinctive black interior with paisley accents, two-tone paint, body-side moldings with black vinyl inserts, and assorted extras. Adding a 318, vinyl roof, air conditioning, power equipment, and free TorqueFlite made up another package. A Custom with the V-8 cost $95 more than a comparable Fury I. The Fury Custom helped increase Fury I assemblies to 21,547 in 1971 from 17,166 in 1970.

Furys for 1971 adopted Torsion-Quiet Ride with its 10 rubberized chassis insulators and 125 square-feet of sound insulation for a quieter, more relaxing ride. A new 360-cid V-8 with a two-barrel carb and 8.7:1 compression ratio was added, designed to run on regular low-leaded gas. Total assemblies declined again to 259,007.

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