by Curtis Redgap, April 2007
The good people that staffed the divisions of Chrysler Corporation in 1962 knew that the Plymouth and Dodge offerings handed to them were commercial losers. They were dead on arrival when the plans were finally shown to them, long before the public disclosure. Reactions varied widely within those divisions as to what to do to move the metal. Some protested, of course. But, with the upheaval in upper management, the responsible group in this fiasco, not much could be done about it. The stone had been cut, and the die had been cast.
Plymouth, above all else, always exhibited a spirit of independence, and stubbornness, perhaps because the people in that division understood that Plymouth, not Dodge, was specifically created to "make" Chrysler Corporation. Walter Chrysler knew, well before he introduced his own make of car, that a low priced field entry would have to be created in order for his company to remain viable. Without it, he could not have survived through the turbulent times that lie ahead. He knew this, and most of the good folks at Plymouth Division knew this.
Main Plymouth Fury page
At times, they had to scrap to get what they could. Perhaps being treated like "Dodge's little sister" made them try all that harder (that utterance was from none other than K. T. Keller, who Walter P. Chrysler had picked to succeed him). I don't believe that Walter imbibed Keller with the admonishment to keep Plymouth ahead. Keller came to work for Chrysler when Walter had accomplished his purchase of Dodge Brothers Company, as the head man for that Division. I don't think he understood that Walter wanted the facilities afforded by the huge foundry assets at Dodge, in order to build the Plymouth.
By 1962, the management style, or distinct lack thereof, resulted in offerings that were plain ugly.
Of the two "plucked chickens," as labeled by the Vice President of Style and Design, Virgil Exner, the Plymouth probably was the more aesthetically pleasing. I do remember that when the City Police bought their first ever group of Dodge vehicles in 1962, they did take quite a bit of ribbing from the State Police driving their 1962 Plymouths. Much of that is too graphic to describe in polite company.
Besides being caught up in the new management initiatives to build something more commercially viable, maintaining current production also had to go on. In the meantime, the folks at Plymouth did engage in projects to bring sales attention to the "plucked" 1962. January saw the introduction of the Sport Fury.
Bigger engines were also introduced. The corporate 383 was made available. The excitement-generating Super Stock Short Ram 413 made the sales floor in May 1962, after an early gin up from
the end of February. It was a drag racing terror from the moment it staged at any drag track.
There were other projects. The effort leading up to convincing management that bigger engines were needed generated some one-off factory built products over at Plymouth especially. As an aside, Dodge usually waited to see if Plymouth was going to be successful before they extended their neck out.
I was shocked when I ran across this beauty from the same place that held the other 1962 Plymouth that we reviewed here. This was from an earlier auction, and was on its way to somewhere else. I am keeping my agreement with the gentleman that owns the warehouse not to reveal names or locations. It is his deal for my access, and I respect him and it.
Tom Coddington was a Chrysler executive who also had racing in his heart. He engaged Tom Hoover, later to develop the race ready 426 cid V-8, to work up a proposal to install bigger engines in a smaller car. Up to that time, anything much above the 361 went into the larger marques, meaning something larger than the smallish 116 wheelbase of the truncated 1962 Plymouth. Running parallel, and introduced at around the same time as the Super Stock Short Ram 413, were other engines from the same special cast high nickel content block from which the "Max Wedge" came from. "Max Wedge" by the way, came from the media, and was not an official name from Chrysler.
According to some of the engineers and racers involved, Coddington and Hoover were looking at streetable versions, mostly to appeal to those potential red-light gran prix types. They were also exploring costs to develop and produce the units. They were probably well aware that the new President of Chrysler, Lynn Townsend, wanted more visibility "on the streets."
The "Max Wedge" was never intended for running down to the local grocery or daily commuting chores. Something else was needed. Something to generate interest in, and speculation about, exactly what engine might be lurking under that diminutive sleeper Plymouth next to you in traffic.
The two men received the go-ahead to make some special units for the dealer network to preview and actually buy to see what could be placed into production with word of mouth advertising leading the charge. Word has it that about 50 special cars were built. The bodies were assembled, then pulled out of the regular production line and sent elsewhere for the engine installations. As such, this made them unique, rare, and not a "normal" factory unit. Unfortunately factory records prior to 1965 were terribly spotty or not even kept! (Lynn Townsend would change this, in light of his accounting background.)
There really are not records for these units. The fender tags will not correspond to the drive trains. It was also indicated that there may have been a couple of experimental four speed manual cars built, but no one has confirmed this.
The cars were also painted in special colors with two toning to emphasis them. By the pictures you see here, a two tone "Redwood Rose" was applied to this ultra rare car. According to my source, this car did have a "build card." The Chrysler Historical Society was able to trace the origin. It shows "NA" for the installed engine!
Where this car has been since 1962 is not known except to the new owner. It is certified, and shows a bit over 27,000 miles on the odometer. It is what it is purported to be, and I envy the new owner. This car has to be worth a ton.
The engine is not rated, but it probably corresponds to the Chrysler Letter car of the time. The engine is definitely not from the letter car line. It is a Super Stock 413 block. The two carburetors are placed in line, and there is no ram manifold. Horsepower is said to be "about 380." That would be in the same territory as the 413 letter car. No other information was available to indicate cam timing, or valve size. I am certain that on the street, it would assert itself quite well. Enjoy.
The rare, rare MoPar went across the Barrett Jackson auction block on Saturday March 31, 2007. Because the owner did not hold a reserve price, he had to let it go for far less than he anticipated it should have brought.
The block was a "Max Wedge" that had been specially built for running on the street. If you look at the engine bay, check the exhaust headers. They are tuned steel. Straight from the factory. All documented by the Chrysler registry, and by Galen Glovier.
The first set of photos are taken by me at the warehouse. The next set were sent from Barrett Jackson at West Palm Beach in the marshaling area. The engine bay pictures are almost from the same angle, but are far different in lighting, as mine were shot outside. It is the same car however.
A real shame, and at a loss for the seller, believing that auction goers know the value of cars on the block. A near priceless find for an unbelievable, and regrettable, $22,000. Then again, maybe someone did know the value, and jumped on the no-reserve situation. We may see this car again. The color looks far better outside than the dull light of the warehouse.
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