1956 was the year of ‘The Forward Look’, when Plymouth sought to amaze its competitors and the US public with tailfin ‘developments’ and a series of ingenious in-car devices. In addition to the V8 ‘Hy-Fire’ engine from the previous year, the 1956 Plymouths could have push-button ‘Powerflite’ automatic transmission and ‘Highway Hi-Fi’, a record player designed to keep the stylus in the platter’s groove while you avoided potholes in the road.
Plymouth marketing was a cameo of the economic optimism of the era — but it couldn’t prepare the company for the kind of enthusiasm that greeted the summer launch of its new hardtop coupe, a limited edition to crown its range: the first Plymouth Fury.
It only came in white, with a gold stripe worked down each side to emphasize the high fins looming over the twin exhausts that spoke of the 240 bhp inside. It was beautiful, fast, and difficult to get your hands on.
It raised the profile of every Plymouth model, and the company began its most successful era. The Fury’s role as high-performance standard-bearer for Plymouth increased with its staggering tail size. Its proven reliability and performance even endeared it to US Police forces (who also, apparently, greatly admired its unexpectedly soft ride). By 1959, the Fury’s name was attached to most Plymouth high-end models (pushing the Belvedere, Savoy etc down the marketing pecking order); and a new ‘Sport Fury’ was created as a limited edition with numerous options for making it even more flashy (it already came with a trunk lid appliqué intended to look like an exterior spare tire, but resembling a trash-can top).
In the giddy euphoria of the day, the ruse worked, and went on working. The Plymouth Fury is a marketing milestone as well as one of America’s hottest 1950s cars.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
1956 (until 1959)
5.0 l (303 cid) V8
Top speed of 110 mph (177 km/h); 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 10 secs
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
Since 1961, the name ‘Fury’ has been attached to several generations of Plymouth models and series. The villain of Stephen King’s novel ‘Christine’ is a psychopathic, demoniacally-possessed 1958 Plymouth Fury which manipulates two rather odd people to fall in love, and slaughters anyone who gets in the way.