The Fury was introduced as a mid year sporty, high-performance, two door sport coupe, at the Chicago Auto Show on January 7th, 1956. (Back in those days new models were usually introduced in September of the previous year). Until this time Plymouth was always viewed as an economical, practical, stodgy type family vehicle better known for simply getting reliably from point A to point B. At the same time that this revolutionary Plymouth was being introduced to the general public, a slightly modified Fury was burning up the sands of Daytona Beach, setting new world speed records for the standing and flying mile. Several other records were on the verge of falling to the gold & white Plymouth but were thwarted by lost fuel delivery due to a faulty gas cap. Never the less, it was an astonishing debut for this very special new model! The ’56 Fury would be the first year of special limited production models that continued on into 1957 and 1958
This Fury was available in only one colour, eggshell white, accented by gold anodized aluminum side trim, surrounded by thin stainless steel moldings that started as a thin spear at the front, becoming much wider on the rear fins. Special gold & silver wheel covers of anodized aluminum, gold hood emblem and special stainless exhaust extensions combined with many other bright trim items, set the Fury apart from other Plymouth models in 1956. It was the first year of the 12-volt ignition system, push button Powerflite transmission, and last year of the coil spring front end. The Fury sat 1" closer to the ground than other Plymouth offerings, thanks to shorter, stiffer front coil springs & 6 leaf rear springs, combined with larger diameter shock absorbers, a heavy duty sway bar up front and special heavy duty transmission, drive-shaft and differential. It also featured large heavy-duty 11" drum brakes front and rear. Wire wheels, dual antennas and a dual four-barrel induction system (raising H.P. to 270) were all available as dealer installed options.
Standard Fury features included a 303 cubic inch, poly spherical head V-8 engine based on the Canadian Chrysler Windsor powerplant, with the addition of a larger four barrel carburetor, high lift cam, domed pistons with a 9:25 compression ratio, hardened shot peened crankshaft, special forged connecting rods, solid lifters and a dual point distributor. A free flowing dual exhaust system topped off this high revving, powerful, 240 horsepower V-8. A total of 4, 484 Plymouth Furys were sold in this model year. Chevys & Fords and many other high performance autos, were no match for this machine in 1956!
Once home, I began the interesting & time consuming process, with which most of you are all too familiar. Receiving much help from fellow club member Geoff Pipe, as well as from the Wayne, Chuck & Richard Akister brothers, Wayne Harris, Barry Manning, Curtis Petz, Paul Desjardins and others, the body was separated from the frame, the body & frame were sand blasted, the engine, tranny, suspension and interior were all rebuilt and restored. Complete new wiring from stem to stern was purchased from Rhode Island Wiring. Total disassembly was followed by reconstructive surgery, performed admirably by Terry Levair of Investment Vehicle Restorations, who replaced most of the floor & trunk floor in addition to other various patch panels. Surprisingly, the upper quarter panels were mostly nice and straight, not requiring too much massaging.
After agreeing on a price with the Fury owner, over the phone, I headed back to Colville on October 9th with club member John Kemp, who just happened to own a Dodge Ram diesel & car trailer. He kindly agreed to haul my treasure for the cost of fuel, meals & accommodation! What a great guy! One day there, an overnight stay and back the following day, we encountered fantastically beautiful weather for that time of year. Crossing back across the border involved filling out all the necessary forms and looking at the incredulous facial expressions when I told the Canada Customs Officer how much I paid for "that thing". Luckily she was a C.F.L. football fan, so the transition & conversation proceeded as smoothly as possible. Along highway 22 between the Crowsnest Pass & Calgary, a very strong Chinook wind blew most of the headliner material and sound deadener all the way to Saskatchewan.
Fast-forward forty years to September 1996. Several months earlier I had spoken to a gentleman at the Portland Swap Meet, who, while we chatted about our favourite cars, mentioned that he possessed a 1956 Fury at home in Colville, Washington. His company was called "Roadrunner Electric" so I knew immediately that he was an honest individual! Following a phonecall to him in September, I took a trip to Colville, Washington to view the dream vehicle. What a surprise! Although I could tell it sort of, kind of, looked like a 1956 Plymouth Fury, it appeared to be pretty much a basket case. He hadn’t claimed it to be in pristine shape....but! The front fenders & hood were dented all over and covered in red oxide primer, the bumpers were all twisted & dented, the interior was all tattered & torn, while huge rust holes highlighted the see-through floors & trunk floor. Other than that it was a mess! I snapped a few pictures with my trusty Nikon & headed back home. Naturally, I just had to have this car!
Did you ever have a vision of some particular classic vehicle stuck in your psyche for decades of your life? This definitely happened to Yours Truly back in the good old days of my teenaged youth. That vehicle was a gorgeous off-white, finned beauty, with a golden hued stripe running from front to back! Every so often I would catch a brief glimpse of this car, as it roared defiantly down a nearby street in southwest Calgary. It was the most beautiful machine I had ever laid my eyes on! I vowed that one day I would have my own 1956 Plymouth Fury!
After initial rust repair was finished, the shell came home to be painted underneath and inside. The suspension was refurbished & painted, the rebuilt engine and tranny were reinstalled & the body reunited with the frame before going south to I.V.R. in Granum, for body & paint. The final result took approximately ten years! (In between some sections of this story, I took time out to do a complete restoration on my 1969 GTX convertible). But that’s another story!
I now have a nice example of what many consider to be one of the first muscle cars, long before anyone heard of the GTO. So, my dream as a teenager finally came to fruition! Boy, that didn’t take too long now, did it?