No Limits Magazine from the Auto History Preservation Society
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Friday February 6, 2015
Plymouth from 1961 through 1965. Tech, News, Period Ads, Road Tests, Brochures, Magazines and More!

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1950 Mercury Coupe

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1955 Olds F-88

1954 Olds F-88 Sports Car
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The first Mustang- 1965

Mustang: 50 Years on the Road

1965 Pontiac 2+2 and GTO Ad

The Paper Chase Part 1
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From the Automotive History Preservation Society
Plymouth 1961-65: From Disaster to Stability

1964 Plymouth Sport Fury Hardtop
The 1964 Plymouth models were styled right - no weird fins, odd fascias - just crisp and clean.
And with the 383 "Commando" and "426-S" V-8s, they got the job done performance-wise.

1961 Fury Hardtop

Compare the 1964 Fury to this 1961 model above.
The car appears to have been designed by three different
people - front, middle and rear

1962 Fury Hardtop

The 1962 Plymouths were cleaner in design, but still exhibited too many styling cues from the '61 - and they were appreciably smaller

1963 Plymouth Fury 4-Door Hardtop

By 1963 Plymouth had the styling right as this 1963 Fury 4-door hardtop attests, It looks sharp and was period correct - and it sold!

1964 Plymouth Barracuda
The 1964 Barracuda was right for the market, Too bad it had no convertible, no performance V8 and the Mustang showed up.

1964 Plymouth Hemi

The "Elephant" arrived in 1964. Immediately it cleaned up at
the Daytona 500 - and by that Summer, nothing could touch
the Hemi on the drag strip.

1965 Plymouth Fury Pace Car

For 1965, Plymouth grew up - in size and sophistication. Fury
became a full size car and it paced the Indy 500 - great publicity
for a new look and a new-sized Plymouth.

By Society Staff – reprint with permission only

Although Plymouth sales suffered as a result of quality control problems and the excesses of Exner-styled models in the early 1960s, people bought enough of the cars to keep the division profitable.

Who Designed Those 1961s?
Significantly, starting in 1961, the Valiant compact car became branded as a a Plymouth, and the Dodge version became the "Lancer". This split further boosted the compacts' total sales from 194,292 to a combined total of 208,178. Of this, 143,078 were Valiants in 1961.

In this period, Plymouth super high performance cars became known as "Golden Commando" and "Sonoramic" cars. The Sonoramic moniker was used to indicate that long ram intake manifolds were used. This setup was applied to their 361, 383 and 413 engines, and the long ram manifold provided a significant torque boost in the low and mid-range. The short-ram manifolds helped upper rpm HP.

Only slow sales of the rather tepid-looking models of 1961 and 1962 prevented these engines from the notoriety they deserve. Plymouth full-size production for 1961 peaked at 198,444, down from 253,350 in 1960.

A Giant Misstep in 1962
With the successful release of GM and Ford's "Mid-Size" cars  in 1961 and in the midst of a recession that was hammering US auto sales, Chrysler Corp made a decision to split the difference and reduce the size, and wheelbase of their Plymouth and Dodge intros for the year of 1962 rather than build a separate line.

Thus, Chrysler introduced a significantly smaller standard Plymouth for that year. They dropped the wheelbase  a significant 2 inches and the overall length by 7".  The problem was that while these new Plymouths were smaller, they were not mid-size and they were not less expensive than the previous models. In a decade where "bigger is better", the car sales languished. There was talk among Chrysler brass of merging Plymouth and Dodge - it looked like the brand might disappear.

Big Changes in 1963 - the Road to Recovery
The 1963 Fury, Belvedere, and Savoy were slightly larger and more substantial, featuring a totally new and good-looking body style. In 1963 the Max Wedge moved out to 426 CID and still dominated at the drag strip.

The Valiant received a re-body that also moved its appearance away from the 50s look and into the 60s. The new body style on both the full-size Plymouth and the Valiant resulted in much better sales. Model year production totals included 244,395 Plymouths and 198,399 Valiants for a total  almost 100,000 above the previous year. Talk that had been swirling regarding combining Plymouth and Dodge began to evaporate.

Putting the Pieces Together - Redefining Plymouth
For 1964, Plymouth got another major restyle featuring a new "slant back" roof line for hardtop coupes that would prove extremely popular. Many enthusiasts consider the '64 models to be the most attractive of the '60s Plymouths. Also debuting in 1963 was the 426-S performance engine, arguably an equal to the street offerings of Chevrolet, Ford, and Pontiac, but at a much lower price.

The Barracuda Bows - Too Bad There's a Mustang Out There
Meanwhile, the Valiant spawned a small personal luxury car called the Barracuda that appeared mid-year, just as the Ford Mustang arrived. Had it showed up in 1963, when the design was available, history and the "Pony Car" name might be a good deal different.  A total of 23,433 Barracudas were produced compared to 121,538 Mustangs, but the "LA" 273 V8 in the Valiant and Barracuda helped energize the Plymouth brands.

There's an "Elephant" in the Room - the 426 Hemi
The "Hemi" debuted in 1964, but only as a special race-oriented package available to selected NASCAR and drag racing operators. Plymouth's offerings of the 426 Street, the Max Wedge, and the Hemi were very dominant performance cars, prompting Ford, Chevrolet, and Pontiac to expand their performance models.

Solid - and Finally - a Larger Plymouth
For 1965, Plymouths were built on a new platform and became the biggest Plymouths ever produced. The Savoy was discontinued, and Belvedere became an "intermediate," but it was basically a restyled 1964.

All big Plymouths became "Furys" for 1965. The low end series was "Fury I", the mid-level models were "Fury II", and deluxe models were "Fury IIIs". Above Fury III was the "Sport Fury" which featured bucket seats and a V8 engine and could be equipped with the 426-S, similar to the Ford Galaxie 500/XL and Chevrolet Impala Super Sport . . .

To Read More About the 1961-1965 Plymouths - Click HERE

To Understand Plymouth "Sonoramic" Ram Manifolds - Click Here

To see Plymouth Road Tests - Click Here and Pick Your Year

To see Plymouth Ads - Click Here and Pick Your Year

Learn About the Famous 426 Hemi from this Chrysler Engineering Bulletin - Click HERE

Learn About the Famous Super Stock III 426 Wedge from this Chrysler Engineering Bulletin - Click HERE

To see How the Plymouth Hemi Dominated the 1964 Daytona 500 - Click Here

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