Leave it to the marketing types to take a great performance machine and turn it into something else. For example, from roughly 1955 to 1958 or so Plymouth had a line of very limited-edition performance machines, the Fury. Hidden from general view, it was as its name sounds, it was quite a handful and it performed.
The marketing whizzes at Plymouth decided, in their infinite knowledge of everything automotive, that 1959 was the year to bring the Fury out of the closet and make it a line of its own. Well, they certainly did.
The Fury was the top-of-the-line and at the very pinnacle of that line was the Sport Fury. It certainly wasn’t the under-the-performance-radar vehicle that Plymouth had been making in small numbers from 56 to 58—about 6,000 per year. The Sport Fury was supposed to be the replacement for the Fury.
In reality, they built a car that really didn’t know what it wanted to be when it grew up. It sported the telltale 1959 Plymouth quad headlights and that were slightly to the rear of the leading edge of the fenders. The fender tops, by the way, had this vey pronounced reverse curve in between them and the front end was a complete chrome bumper and brightwork grille that seemed like it was just hung on there to keep someone happy.
The line established by the top of the fender carried through the door and then swung down and terminated by the C-pillar where the tell-tale Chrysler fin took off.
To let the world know you had purchased one of the magic Sport Fury’s the fin had this piece of aluminum hanging in the middle. The problem was that it didn’t do anything.
The question remains, though, why take a limited edition line and try to make it into a full-line that included two hardtops and a four-door, plus a convertible? And, on top of that why make a vehicle whose production topped out about 24,000 in 1959, its best year? To this day, no one can figure it out.
This was the model that not only defined the classic Plymouth fin, but also added a faux trunklid applique that was supposed to look like a spare, the type of spare you’d find on a much more expensive vehicle.
It turns out that this vehicle was all gimmicks – auto-dim headlights and a rearview – and little else.
Mechanically, there was no change at all as the Sport Fury offered the overhead valve 318 that put out a standard 260 horsepower or could be massaged to 305 with a re-bored edition that was 361-cid. The wheelbase was still 118 inches and the binders were front and rear drums. Front suspension was still a trailing arm setup with torsion bars and the rear featured a live axle and semi-elliptical leaves. The 59 Sport Fury only proves one thing when marketing gets its hands on a great car it doesn’t stay great for long.