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Finding the perfect 1964 Plymouth Fury

Jim Black - June 13, 2013 10:00 AM

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You’ve all heard similar stories ... Joe “car enthusiast” just happened to be in the right place at the right time and ended up with the most awesome car ever. Lucky guy.

Unfortunately, the rest of us “stumble” through our adult lives, always on the hunt for a similar situation. Try as we might, it just never happens. Still, these stories do happen. Chances are, we know at least one or two individuals who fall in this category.

Tom Gilmore from Arlington, Nebraska, is a recent inductee into the “right place, right time, right car” hall of fame. Tom and his son were attending an estate sale in North Bend, Nebraska, where several Dodge, Plymouth, and Chrysler cars were put on the auction block. One in particular was advertised as an all-original ’73 Barracuda. “It was a big disappointment, so we left a short time later,” Tom recalled. “But, on the way out, a young couple was handing out flyers with cars for sale that their late father had owned, so I got their phone number and called them the very next day.”

A couple of days passed before Tom made the short drive to see what was in the offering. “When that first garage door came up, I couldn’t believe my eyes,” he said. “It was a 1964 Plymouth Fury in all-original condition and it looked like it had just come from the showroom floor.”

After a short test drive, Tom fell in love and wasted no time making an offer, which was quickly accepted. He drove it home the next day. What Tom got for his money was a one-owner car in remarkable condition with just 76,000 original miles, impeccably maintained and always garaged. The Fury was light on options, but equipped with a 383 V-8 and (first for 1964) a factory four-speed.

The Plymouth Fury was produced from 1956 through 1978 model years and was introduced as a premium-priced car designed to highlight the line with the intent to draw consumers into showrooms. “Fury” denotes a type of anger inspired by the Furies, creatures found in ancient Greek and Roman mythology. The Fury model remained Plymouth’s sales volume leader through the early 1960s, but poor styling and downsizing early on proved unpopular to buyers. By the mid-’60s, styling had improved and sales volumes increased.

The third generation Fury was available in four body models – two-door coupe, two-door convertible, four-door sedan, and four-door station wagon – and all were built on Chrysler’s B-body platform with unit-body construction. Suspension included upper and lower A-arms with longitudinal torsion bars up front and a live axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs at the rear. It rode on a 116-inch wheelbase and weighed in at approximately 3,200 to 3,400 pounds, depending on engine choice and options. The unit-body construction was very popular to both street and drag racers, who enjoyed a 300 to 400 pound weight advantage over traditional body-on-frame cars like those from General Motors.

The 1964 model was basically a carryover from the previous year, but included a mild facelift with a new roof (for two-door coupes) that featured a V-shaped rear pillar and “bubble” rear window. A 2½-inch wider rear track also decreased body roll and improved handling. Fury sales in 1964 improved significantly following Plymouth’s Daytona 500 1-2-3 sweep that year, aided by the new 426 Hemi V-8 and a young driver by the name of Richard Petty. The NASCAR win helped boost sales for Plymouth to an all-time volume of 600,000 units, placing them solidly at number four behind Pontiac, Ford, and sales leader Chevrolet.

Tom’s Plymouth is painted Sandalwood Metallic (H-code), just one of 16 color choices for 1964, and features the standard two-tone brown and silver trimmed interior. The few options include Deluxe steering wheel, clock, heater and defroster, AM pushbutton radio, tinted glass (windshield only), windshield washers with variable-speed wipers, full wheel covers, and Sure-Grip rear differential. No power steering, power brakes, or air conditioning were optioned on this car. The factory-equipped steel stamped wheels, wheel covers, and bias ply tires have been replaced with a set of 15-inch police-style slotted wheels with poverty caps and trim rings, shod with a set of classic BFGoodrich radial TAs for a sportier look.

As mentioned, Tom’s Fury is equipped with a numbers-matching Golden Commando 383 V-8. The cast iron block overhead valve engine had a bore and stroke of 4.25 x 3.38 inches, producing 330 horsepower at 4,600 rpm and 425 lbs-ft of torque at 2,800 rpm with a 10.0:1 compression ratio, topped with a Carter 4v carburetor. There were eight different engine choices for 1964 including: the 225ci six; the 2-bbl 318 and 361ci V-8s; the 383ci 4v (specified above); three 426ci wedge engines at 375, 415, and 425hp; and the fire-breathing 426ci Hemi at 425hp – quite a line-up. Transmission choices included the three-speed TorqueFlite automatic, three-speed manual, and four-speed manual (as our feature car is equipped).

Since purchasing the Fury in June of 2011, Tom has racked up a few miles (and a few trophies) attending several local area car shows and cruises. “I really enjoy driving this car as often as I can,” Tom admitted. “I still can’t believe how lucky I was to be in the right place, at the right time, and bring this one home.”

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