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Sunday, April 19, 2015

1958 Plymouth Fury: The Original Speed Demon



The early 1980′s was a scary time for many people, including fans of horror writer Stephen King. Early in that decade he released a disturbing novel about a car that was more malevolence than metal. A demon from Hell disguised in gleaming steel, it reversed the normal terms of car ownership. Its drivers didn’t possess it; it possessed them. The book’s title was Christine, and the vehicle King chose for its main character was the 1958 Plymouth Fury.
It was a fantastic choice. Aside from its name, which means “intense anger,” it was a product of a decade when manufacturers were unconstrained by concerns for fuel efficiency. What they did worry about was performance. And to make sure that the Fury lived up to its name it was powered by a 318 cubic inch V8 Hemi that produced 295 horsepower. Also available was a 361 cubic inch engine that was rated for 305 HP. Twin 4 barrel carbs fed it gasoline, and its gearbox was the world-class Plymouth TorqueFlite A-488, considered one of the smoothest and most reliable automatic transmissions ever built.


The Fury ran like a bat out of Hell. In 1958, Motor Trend put it up against Ford’s Fairline 500 and the Chevy Impala. The Plymouth completed the run in 7.7 seconds, followed by the Chevrolet, which came in at 9.1 seconds. The Ford limped in behind the other two, finishing in 10.2 seconds. The fastest ones achieved speeds in excess of 143 miles per hour, allowing it to easily dominate virtually any other car on the street or at the race track.

Styling was classic 1950s, with a wraparound windshield, cockpit-like interior, and swept back fin design. Round taillights gave it a distinctive appearance from the rear. Released only as a hardtop coupe, 5,303 were produced in ’58. Buyers could own one for just over three grand.


King’s novel made some mistakes in its description of the car. He refers to its “Hydramatic” transmission, which was a actually a GM product. He also calls it a four-door; the ’58 model only came as a two door. And he took some creative license by describing it as red and white. The 1958 Fury only came in buckskin beige with gold trim. However, he did a capable job of capturing the power and performance of this classic American car.