1962, 1963, 1964 Plymouth Sport Fury

Full-size Plymouths wore revised styling for 1962, and the Sport Fury was still the top-line offering with sporty two-tone interior and flashier exterior trim.
Full-size Plymouths wore revised styling for 1962, and the Sport Fury was still the top-line offering with sporty two-tone interior and flashier exterior trim.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

The 1962-1964 Plymouth Sport Furys weren't nearly as bad as they're usually portrayed. Yes, they could have been built better (Chrysler was still in its "rust period") and the styling certainly didn't suit everyone.

But in other respects these cars hold up surprisingly well. In size and balance they're still right today, and the long-hood/short-deck proportions were drawn years before we'd ever heard of "ponycars."

But bigger still meant better in early-1960s America, and the market didn't take to "standard" Plymouths (or Dodges) shrunk to near compact size. The result was a well-known sales disaster, Plymouth falling from a tenuous number-three position for 1960 all the way to eighth for 1962 -- its worst placing ever.

What's often overlooked is that these same basic cars lifted Plymouth to fourth the very next year (behind amazingly strong Pontiac), though the popular compact Valiant remained a big factor.

Most of what goes for Dodge's 1962-1964 standards applies to these Plymouths. Exceptions involve appearance, where Plymouth arguably fared better, and the initial 116-inch wheelbase, which unlike Dodge, Plymouth retained after 1962.

Incidentally, those who brand the 1962 Plymouth as weird-looking -- as many people did at the time -- should know that it might have been even weirder.

One surviving photo of the "S-series" design program that sired these cars shows a mock-up with virtual 1962 production styling, save a license-plate frame. It "featured" a vestigial trunklid fin offset to the left, echoing the asymmetric theme of Virgil Exner's 1960 "XNR" show car.

Intriguingly, another photo shows what appears to be a true full-size Plymouth looking very Pontiac-like and bearing "Super Sport" badges. This suggests that a two-tier lineup, like the Dart/Custom 880 split that Dodge ended up with in 1962, had been the original Plymouth plan. A shame it didn't materialize.

What did materialize was a sportier version of the downsized 1962 reviving the Sport Fury tag from 1959 (Chevy, of course, owned "Super Sport"). Bowing midyear as a convertible and hardtop coupe, it mainly offered the same features that proved so popular on Chevy's Corvair Monza, namely an all-vinyl interior with front bucket seats and center console.

Outside, the new twosome was set apart from lesser Furys by black grille accents, special wheel covers, belt molding extension, and a slim bright strip with dummy air vents above the back panel.

Unlike lesser models, which came with a Slant Six, Sport Furys carried a standard 361 "Golden Commando" V-8 with 305 horsepower. Power options ran through a pair of 383s up to a trio of mighty 413 wedgeheads packing up to 410 horsepower with ram-induction manifolding.

Remembering that the 1962 Plymouths measured seven inches shorter and up to 400 pounds lighter than the 1961s, it's easy to see that Sport Furys could be ferocious performers with one of the bigger V-8s.

Part of that weight-savings came from a switch to full unibody construction, without the front subframe of 1960-1961, which made for uncommonly tight, solid cars better able to exploit the fine handling of Chrysler's torsion-bar front suspension. No wonder law-enforcement agencies bought so many of these vehicles.

See how the story continues with the 1963 and 1964 Plymouth Sport Fury models on the next page.

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Continued

Another restyle marked the 1963 Plymouth Sport Furys, bringing straighter lines and a more conventional look.
Another restyle marked the 1963 Plymouth Sport Furys, bringing straighter lines and a more conventional look.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

Helped by deftly reskinned standards for 1963, Plymouth's model-year production improved from 340,000 to a more heartening 488,500. Quad headlamps on the 1963 Plymouth Sport Fury came together within a much-simplified grille; "bladed" fenderlines and slab sides gave way to a more conventional, sculptured look; hardtop coupes acquired attractive, Thunderbird-style rooflines; and three extra inches in rear overhang added one cubic foot to trunk space.

Special wheel covers and tri-color insignia again identified Sport Furys. Drivetrains were largely as before, but the optional 413s gave way to bored-out 426 wedgeheads with up to 425 horsepower.

Another lower-body restyle followed for the 1964 Plymouth Sport Fury, along with a more conventional dash, and, for hard tops, a distinctive new roofline with vee'd rear pillars and "bubble" backlight. The big mechanical news was a first-time four-on-the-floor option, available with any V-8.

Popular Mechanics also noted that a 2.5-inch wider rear track "makes for less roll and better handling when taking the curves on a rough road." Testifying to the inherent goodness of its 1964s, Plymouth swept that year's Daytona 500 1-2-3, helped by a Hemi V-8 newly revived for competition only -- and by a young driver named Richard Petty, future king of the NASCAR world.

That convincing victory undoubtedly helped boost Plymouth volume, which rose to nearly 600,000 for the model year, the best since 1957 -- not bad for a make so down and out just two years before.

This certainly must rank as one of the great sales comebacks of all time. But then, as we said, the cars weren't so bad either.

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1962, 1963, 1964 Plymouth Sport Fury Specifications

The 1964 Plymouth Sport Furys were treated to a mild facelift, while coupes wore new V-shaped rear pillars.
The 1964 Plymouth Sport Furys were treated to a mild facelift, while coupes wore new V-shaped rear pillars.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

The 1962-1964 Plymouth Sport Fury was not the best built or the best styled (at least for the time), but these cars have held up surprisingly well throughout the years. Find specifications for the 1962-1964 Plymouth Sport Fury below.

Specifications

Engines: all ohv V-8; 318 cid (3.91 x 3.31), 230 horsepower; 361 cid (4.12 x 3.38), 265/305/310 horsepower; 383 cid (4.25 x 3.38), 320/325/330/335 horsepower; 413 cid (4.19 x 3.75), 365/380/410 horsepower (1962 only); 426 cid (4.25 x 3.75), 365/370/375/415/425 horsepower (1963-1964)

Transmissions: 3-speed manual (4-speed in 1964 only); 3-speed TorqueFlite automatic

Suspension front: upper and lower A-arms, longitudinal torsion bars, anti-roll bar

Suspension rear: live axle on semi-elliptic leaf springs

Brakes: front/rear drums

Wheelbase (in.): 116.0

Weight (lbs.): 3,195-3,405

Top speed (mph): 105-120+

0-60 mph (sec): 6.8-9.5

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