October 2016 Mopar of the Month
Doug writes from Iowa: I have been a Mopar enthusiast for as long as I can remember. As a kid I had old Plymouth or Dodge emblems attached to my bicycles, and when my brother and I prodded Dad to get us a horse, he instead drug an old 1948 Dodge out of the grove, which became our pastime, driving around the yard and in the pasture on our farm.
Shortly after I turned 16 I bought my first car, which was a 1963 Plymouth Fury two door hardtop, powered by a 318 poly engine. In years since, I have owned most of the popular Mopar performance cars, from RoadRunners, 'Cudas to Superbirds, 383's to 440 six packs to Hemi's — but there has always been at least one 1963 Plymouth in the garage.
Here is where the reader that prefers cars kept original may want to quit reading! Over the years, only my Superbird was kept original, and even that one wore custom wheels for several years.
So, this 1963 Plymouth Sport Fury was originally Coppertone, with the black and copper interior. (Apparently that was a popular color as I have been chastised for changing it by other Mopar aficionados over the years.) The pictures of the Plymouth (below) were taken the day I brought the 1963 home wearing the original paint.
|So, I decided for now the 383 was enough, although thoughts of a 426 wedge were high on the list of things to do.|
The original 727 TorqueFlite transmission worked fine, but leaked terribly, so when the body came back from the shop, I changed it with a 1964 version that had been recently overhauled. The car was reassembled and parked for the winter.
The following spring I brought the convertible to an upholsterer, where it was decided to change the color scheme to black and white, since at that time there was no original material available to put the interior back to the stock configuration. (At least to my knowledge or that of the upholsterer.) After that it was wheels, tires, some small mechanical issues and the Plymouth was back on the road. All the work was done in about 6 months, and then it was on to other projects.
While other cars came and went, this Mopar ragtop was a favorite driver and saw a lot of miles, not only by me, but my father enjoyed taking it out on a nice day for a drive as well. That being the case, additional upgrades took a back seat to other projects.Some years down the road, the whole "life happens" thing reared it's head, and one by one the cars got away, until only this Plymouth convertible remained, besides the daily drivers. During that period the Plymouth got stored away for much of the time, not always in the best of conditions, which always seems to take a toll.
About 10 years ago I was able to get the Sport Fury home with me and, fortunately, could use the Mopar more often. I soon realized some work was needed, though. So in the last few years I have given the Plymouth more attention; I now have the convertible to a place now where it is pretty reliable, and although the Plymouth could use some cosmetic attention in places, the Mopar is coming along nicely. Upgrades in the last couple years include electronic ignition, an Edelbrock performer carburetor, a 1968 rear end out of a Plymouth GTX with a 489 center section with 3.23 gears, complete front suspension rebuild, including last winter's project of changing out the old steering chuck with a Firm Feel unit, and rebuilding the steering coupler.
I added new wheels and tires recently. The Sport Fury is rolling on 275/60/15's on the rear, and 225/70/15's on the front. Wheels are Vision's 15 by 8 with 4 1/2 inch back space on the rear, fronts are 15 by 7 with a 3 1/2 back space and 7mm negative offset.
Clearly these type car projects are rarely ever "finished." Future plans include new exhaust, rear spring replacement or re-arch, and a newer dual reservoir master cylinder, and possibly some engine upgrades; (that 426 idea still weighs heavy in my mind, especially since I have a good 413 in the garage corner!) Once I am happy with the Sport Fury mechanically, I hope to restore the instrument panel and freshen the body a bit.
I have not had the Plymouth in a car show for 25 years, but I take the Mopar to some cruise-ins, and have been asked many times if the car is a "survivor" -- I say the Sport Fury convertible more like a "re-survivor."