The 1963 Plymouth Fury: Details
Written by John Boyadjian, based on Plymouth Bulletin articles by Marvin J. Raguse, Jr., and former Chrysler designer Jeff Godshall.
See also this in-depth article on the 1963 Plymouths.
Let us take a trip back in time circa the fall of 1962 and explore Marvin J. Raguse Jr's experience with some of the fine cars of the day. The town is Racine, Wisconsin, a small industrial town where the folks worked at J.I. Case, InSinkErator or Johnson Wax and kids would jump into their muscle cars after a day of school at Horlick High, and cruise the downtown loop at night ("Scooping the Loop"). This loop is a one-mile strip of downtown streets with traffic lights set up in such a way as to allow the young drivers to show off what their cars could do, often under the noses of the local police.
It is here where Marvin first saw the 1963 Plymouth Sport Fury. He fell head over heels for it. Marvin knew he had to convince his dad that he also needed the new Sport Fury. Marv was 16 at the time, and his dad obviously liked the car as much as he did, because 25 years later, that stunning Fury is still sitting in Marv's garage.
Exterior Styling of the Plymouth Fury
The smooth flow of the roofline into the rear quarter panel was a well liked styling touch in the Fury. Other cars that had similar lines where some 1963 Chryslers as well as the 1963 Buick Riviera. The exterior ornamentation also aided to the success of the Fury. All window surrounds and body side moldings were stainless steel. Chrome die cast was used between the tail lamps for a clean look, with Plymouth badging attached. 25 years later, these sparkling exterior details still look fresh on Marv's Fury, remnant of the ever shining spire of the Chrysler building standing the tests of time. For 1964 however, the stainless steel and chrome were replaced with aluminum stampings.
Red, white and blue badging was abundant on the 1963 Fury. The tri-colored bars were applied to the C-pillars, rear deck lid, interior door panels as well as the hood ornament.
The front turn signals were mounted high on the fenders, although easier to damage in that configuration, they were well accepted. These lamps were unique because of their white lenses. Amber signals became a federal requirement in 1963, and competitors were putting amber lenses on their cars. However, Chrysler used an amber bulb behind a white lens for aesthetics when not illuminated.
Perceived shortness of the 1962 models was a problem and so styling was concentrated on making the 1963 car look longer. This included painted full-length front to rear body side moldings on the Fury, with an engine-turned insert on the Sport Fury. Actual body length was also increased by three inches from the 1962 car, even though the wheelbase stayed the same. The raised beltline from the 1962 was taken off, with the 1963 car featuring a perfectly horizontal beltline, again for a longer look. This was key since Chevrolet, Ford and Pontiac were featuring larger bodies with long, horizontal lines. [This paragraph based on Jeff Godshall's article]
Fury Interior Features
Plymouth had some of the best bucket seats at the time. Unlike competitors' seats, the Plymouth seats were contoured. Not only did they look great, but they felt far more comfortable. On the other hand, Ford and Chevrolet had thick, bulky bucket seats.
The door trim panels had a clean, quality look to them because they were constructed of a multitude of materials. The doors were trimmed in rich grained vinyl, carpeting, applied moldings and a medallion.
The 1962 control panel was modified for the 1963 model year. The oil light was the only remaining idiot light. Temperature, alternator and fuel indicators used gauges now. Sport Fury's competitors only offered a fuel gauge.
1963 Plymouth Fury Engines
The Sport Furys had three engine options, the 318 cid, the 361 Commando engine with a 2 bbl. Carb, and the 383 cid Golden Commando engine with a 4 bbl. Carb. A 426 Wedge and a 426 Max Wedge was also available in limited production. Production engine options are listed in the 1963 Plymouth engine specs and production volumes table.
There were none better than the push-button Torqueflites, at the time; the automatics were eating the manuals for lunch at the drag strip. The Torqueflite was the only respected automatic in the industry. A parking sprag which was offered in 1962 continued on all Chrysler cars in 1963. Before the parking sprag, an emergency brake was located on the rear of the transmission output shaft.
1963 was the last year for a pushbutton automatic with bucket seats; they had survived longer at Chrysler than at any other automaker. The 1964 model year was seeing the return of the console shifter. 1965 would be the elimination of all pushbutton shifting in all Chrysler cars. At the time Chrysler wanted to get into the rental car market, and Avis required a column shifter as to have compatibility between all fleet cars. (Editor's note: pushbutton automatics had been used by Packard, Edsel, Mercury, and Monarch, briefly, while Rambler had them from 1958 to 1962, according to Bill Watson, who wrote, “Not very reassuring to a prospective car buyer if everyone who had the buttons dropped them, except Chrysler.”)
Chrysler offered torsion bar front suspension and Hotchkiss rear drive. Though none was offered, the Sport Fury needed a front sway bar to control body roll. The cars still had excellent rides, but the handling was not as good as it could have been because of the Goodyear two ply rayon cord tires that were offered. Once the tires were replaced, handling was much improved.
Big news for 1963 was the introduction of the most extensive drive train warranty in automotive history. Every part, except for wear items was warranted for five years or 50,000 miles. A move used to dramatically boost sales, Chrysler's marketing team felt that this longer warranty would tell the world that Plymouths were as reliable as they were good looking. Marv states that after 25 years and 90,000 miles, he has never had a drivetrain problem.
Marvin quotes from the 1963 issue of Motor Trend, We don't have to go too far on a limb to predict that the combination of last year's performance, this year's styling, plus a big improvement in quality control will give Plymouth one of the biggest years in its history. The image of the 1963 Fury served as a wake-up call to the public, while the 1964 model would capture their hearts.
Richard E. Lewis wrote:
In 1963, my friend Ron Erwin (now Erwin Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep of Troy, Ohio) and I both ordered and purchased 1963 Furys. Both were red, two door hardtops with red interior. Ron’s had a 318 engine with a 3-speed manual on the column, mine had the 383 Golden Commando engine with a 4-speed on the floor.
My four-speed was a Borg Warner T10 with the 2.54 low gear (wide ratio) shifted by a very long, curvy, and sturdy Hurst Shifter. Both cars had 3.23 rear axles but mine also had the Sure-Grip unit. Shortly after getting the car I had a 4.56 rear ratio installed.
I couldn’t go very fast (valve float at about 105) but I got there in a hurry. I had to install what we called traction bars to prevent spring windup. When I sold my Fury one year later, it had about 22,000 miles on it and the sixth set of rear tires (which were bald). I have always wondered where this car is today and also how many were built with the T10 4-speed? I had to rebuild it three times as I kept breaking a tooth off of the input shaft when launching with the slicks that we had available would get a really good bite. And I expect this is what brought out the Chrysler 4-speed the following year.
Our Furys were quite a local site when we ran down the road together, with me kind of pushing Ron in his 318. His license number was 230VY Ohio and mine was 330VY Ohio (representing our respective rated horsepower). We also had our radio antennas mounted on top of the left rear quarters like Broderick Crawford on the TV show Highway Patrol.
In 1968, Ron purchased a Ramcharger from Bill Weekly in Newark, Ohio (its former owner was Ron Farmer of Farmer Food Market) and campaigned it locally for the next 2 or 3 years. When Ron sold it, the paint scheme was black and white and lettered with the name “Wonder Worker” Our best times running as a 415HP with 4.89 gears was 11.3 and somewhere in the low 120+ mph.
1963 Plymouth engines
|Engine Name||30-D Slant 6||Fury V-800||Commando 361||Golden Commando||Wedge 426|
|Type||Inline OHV||90 degree OHV V8|
|Carburetors||1 bbl||2bbl||2bbl||4bbl||two 4 bbl|
Sport Fury (15,253)