I am a Plymouth fan who once owned a 1958 Plymouth Fury. I know this car received a lot of promotion from the movie "Christine," but was it really ahead of the competition as the ads said back in 1957 when the new design arrived?
Q: Hello, Greg. I am a Plymouth fan who once owned a 1958 Plymouth Fury. I know this car received a lot of promotion from the movie "Christine," but was it really ahead of the competition as the ads said back in 1957 when the new design arrived? Thanks, and keep those old car articles coming. George L., Massachusetts.
A: George, I do remember the ads in 1957 for the new Plymouths, and they said, "Suddenly, it's 1960." My dad had a four-door, light green 1955 Plymouth Savoy, and my uncle had a two-tone red and white, pushbutton automatic 1956 Plymouth. Thus, when 1957 came around, I was really surprised to see the all-new Plymouth, especially its massive tailfins and even more powerful engines.
These new Plymouths had a lower center of gravity, and they were much wider than the years prior. The front and rear were smartly designed, and even the Suburban nine-passenger wagon looked mighty good, too. At the dealer showrooms, customers bought over 200,000 more 1957 Plymouths than they did in 1956, proving that perhaps this car was indeed three years ahead of the competition.
Then in 1958, more powerful engines came along for limited-edition Furys, including a 318 that put out 290 horsepower was dubbed the Plymouth "Dual Fury V-800." The moniker came thanks to a dual four-barrel carb setup, high-performance camshaft, dual exhaust, dual point distributor and special resistor-type plugs that didn't offend those who loved the AM radio (by eliminating the static). Changes in the proven 1957 design were few, with a quad headlights perhaps the biggest change.
Since you owned a 1958 Fury - this dual four-barrel 318 is indeed the engine that came in your car, as it was standard that year in the Fury line. As an option, a 350 "Golden Commando" that put out 305 horses was available in all Plymouth models. This engine also utilized dual four-barrels, and it was perhaps the predecessor of the soon-to-come big muscle car engines.
Stephen King's 1983 novel and 1983 John Carpenter horror movie classic "Christine" did much to promote the Plymouth Fury nameplate (although I believe in the movie that several Belvederes also were used). To this day, everyone loves seeing a 1958 Plymouth Fury at car shows across the nation, and the car is a valuable collectible. But if the hood is up, I wouldn't go putting my head under it to see the engine better.
Thanks for the question.
Greg Zyla writes weekly for GateHouse Media and welcomes reader questions on collector cars and auto nostalgia at 303 Roosevelt St., Sayre, PA 18840 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.