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Art Schlachter - Danville, Kentucky, USA

Posted: Wed Oct 05, 2016 4:45 pm
by Faulkner
I am the proud owner of a 59 Plymouth Sport Fury purchased from a previous owner and past participant to this web site, Bob Hinds of Birmingham, Alabama. I am an AACA member, a former Tech Advisor for the 1967 Plymouth B-body with the Plymouth Owner's Club, and an active participant in the Keeneland Concours deElegance here in Lexington, Kentucky for over ten years.

59 Ply Sport Fury -K.jpg

Under Bob's 23 year ownership of this car, Bob had done some pretty impressive things during those years. This car had been featured in Auto Restorer's Magazine, The Plymouth Owner’s Club Bulletin and featured on national TV's Car & Driver as well as on Legends of the Road. Additionally, Bob received the AACA Senior Award with this car along with 5 AACA Preservation Awards. Bob also worked with the Milestone Car Society in establishing the 59 Plymouth as a Milestone Car. (Milestone Certification requires meeting five parameters: Distinctive Styling, Engineering, Performance, Innovation and Craftsmanship – relative to their counterparts.)

Milestone Car Society   -59 Plymouth20170806_20595229.jpg

Being the new-kid-on-the-block, I have my hands full in maintaining the quality and integrity of my Sport Fury established by my predecessor. In my first year of owning this car I have confirmed that the car was well cared for and very reliable. On the road I get a lot of “thumbs-up” from passersby and people will strike up a conversation while stopped at stop lights. Most of the comments are “I haven't seen one of those in years”. People have followed me into gas stations and asked to take a look at the Sport Fury. To me, these are all compliments, to my wife (who isn't into vintage cars), it is embarrassing to be riding in the car. Go figure??

Except for my bringing the car to Kentucky, this car has been an Alabama car all its life. On close inspection I have found the floor boards to be original and solid thanks to favorable Alabama climate the car has been exposed to through the years. The majority of money Chrysler had appropriated for retooling their car lines for 1959 model year was allocated to the 59 Plymouth and it shows.

1959 Sport Fury in 2012 Keeneland Concours -2.JPG

This car was top of the line for the 1959 Plymouth model year. Special for only Sport Fury was the front windshield that curves overhead as well as the wrap-around to the sides giving the driver the feeling of openness. For a luxury touch Plymouth installed the Tiffany style badges on the rear wings with the gold over black Forward-Look emblems. For sportiness Plymouth installed a faux spare tire cover on rear deck lid with a decorative polished spun aluminum style hubcap with its matching Tiffany style badge. (This was Chrysler's answer to the continental kit seen on the backs of “those other cars”. ) The mirrors are positioned out on the front fenders and give the driver a better – wider view of traffic behind him. This was the only year for the double-barreled fenders. Most of the trim on this car is polished stainless steel. In later years Chrysler went with less expensive trim. Finally, the low stance of this car comes from the 14” tires and the seats sitting between theframe instead of on top of the frame. I did some checking and the Sport Fury is actually lower from the ground to the top of the roof than today's 2015 Toyota Avelon by 3.5”. The Sport Fury is a little over 12” longer and about 8” wider. So the Plymouth Sport Fury is in reality lower, longer and wider than today's Toyota.

One might believe I purchased this car because my first car was a 1959 Plymouth four door, but not really for that reason. When I was young and getting my very first car, I would have been excited to have any car – it just happened to be a 59 Plymouth. My real reason for pursuing a 1959 Sport fury was the fantastic styling that Virgil Exner (Chrysler Design Engineer) had done on this car. Last year while at MOPARS in Carlisle, Pa, I had the opportunity to meet and talk with Virgil Exner Jr. That experience was about as close as one can get to the guy that actually designed this car.

-Art Schlachter

Some ruminations about the '59 Sport Fury from Art

Posted: Sun Jun 28, 2020 12:46 pm
by Faulkner

In the fight for sales supremacy back in the late 50's, the Big Three (Ford, GM, and Chrysler) auto companies were running operations in a lean, mean and cagey fashion looking to out-do the competition. The automakers produced chiseled, low-profile cars that were tastefully decorated with a look and feel of luxury. If you are a fan of fins and chrome, the 59 Plymouth Sport Fury will certainly satisfy your desire. The tail fins rise elegantly to the rear and end in a canted forward angle that meets the chrome belt line trim. Added for the first time to the tail fin is a Tiffany style 5” chrome badge with a gold-plated ship that has been the icon for the Plymouth brand since inception. Considering the luxury aspect, the interior is eye catching and sporty. Driver vision was terrific all around, enhanced by the fact that the rear-view mirror is mounted to the top of the dash.

I have owned my 59 Plymouth Sport Fury for eight years now, and just love the car in everything from looks, style, handling and performance. The car has eye-candy appeal when driving it on area roads. I have had people follow me into gas stations wanting to have a closer look of my car. (The conversation usually goes “I haven't seen one of those in years”.) More often than not while waiting for a stop light to change, people in the lane next to me will often start up a conversation about my car. One woman’s comment – “What a beautiful car – it looks like the Batmobile!” (I wanted to comment back that I would check with Gotham City and see if Batman needs me – but the street light changed to green before I could get it out.) My wife comments that such encounters are embarrassing, but I tell her not at all, I consider such encounters as compliments. So it goes, often encountered conversations while driving my Sport Fury but such conversation is not what I want to present in this writeup.

At one time full size classic cars were the big trend in vintage vehicles. Today it is either Muscle Cars or Hot Rods that have left full size classic cars closer to being a rarity at today's car shows and cruise-ins. In this crazy world it seems almost normal to take a beautiful original classic car and jam a big engine between the front tires, cut a hole in the floor boards to accommodate a 4 speed transmission and either bypass the mufflers or utilize glass-paks in an effort to make the engine noticeably noisy to attract attention.

Being an old timer (age 76) and owning an all original full-size classic car, I have refused all these years to join the Muscle-wannabe trend and continue to drive my all-original 1959 Plymouth Sport Fury in the face of this trend. (I go for style and class and prefer my engine to run as quiet as possible.) The other day, I pulled up to a Cars & Coffee car show in Lexington, Kentucky and notice most vehicles were either muscle cars, Corvettes, Porsches and the like – and many were less than 15 years old. With a parking spot available in the middle of these cars, I pulled in and parked my 59 Plymouth. My 61 year old car didn't have 18” low profile tires, hood scoops, a tachometer, disc brakes, turbo charger or nitrous oxide bottle in the trunk or even a manual shift stick – mine is a push-button automatic transmission. So it stood out like a sore thumb – wings, wraparound windshield, 5-pushbutton radio and all. No other car in the entire event had wings or whitewalls. Surprisingly, the car got quite a bit of attention and several nice comments. I think many of the people seemed to have an appreciation for “What-Used-To-Be”.

The previous owner of my 59 Sport Fury (Robert Hinds), told me he thought there were only 100 of the 59 Sport Fury's left in existence, but did not tell me how he drew that conclusion. (Robert, now deceased, had been a Tech Advisor with the POC for many years and was well versed in his Sport Fury.) My being a member of several auto related car clubs ( P.O.C., Walter P. Chrysler Club, AACA and the 59 Sport Fury Website), have given me access to membership rosters from these organizations. I have reviewed these rosters and have come to the conclusion that Robert Hinds estimate of 100 Sport Fury's in existence might be a pretty close estimate. I know from this study that my Sport Fury seems to be a lone-wolf here in Kentucky. Condensing this information even further, I find that there are 23 States that do not appear to have a single 59 Sport Fury, 13 States that have only one Plymouth Sport Fury and two states (Pennsylvania & Florida) that have the largest number with 5 Sport Furys each. I realize that not all Sport Fury owners are registered with any of the car clubs I have listed, but assuming the 53 identified owner's make up approximately 50% of the total in existence, that would make Robert's estimate of 100 Sport Fury's in existence today believable.

I had a little bit of a shock the other day when two young men who had been doing some plumbing work at my house, took me up on my offer to show them my 59 Sport Fury and my 67 Plymouth Belvedere. Upon seeing my cars, they commented that they like my 67 Belvedere over my 59 Sport Fury. My 59 Sport Fury being a more valuable collector car, in their eyes did not make the cut. What a difference in opinion between the younger generation and the opinion of white-haired senior citizens that once owned and drove these cars. Why don't the younger generation have the appreciation for these “time-machines” that I do? It is kinda scary to know that future buyers for vintage cars similar to mine, seem uninterested in older classics cars and made me think my beautiful Sport Fury might be going through diminishing values instead of continuing to increase as they have been since the car was produced. There is no sure answer for any of this, but after thinking about it, I plan to keep and enjoy these cars until I am gone. After that it won't matter. I picture one of my three grandkids (two boys and a girl), will end up with the car and I only hope the one that ends up with it cares for it as I had and not modify it from it's all original as from the factory car. Will they ever understand how a carbureted car works, what a trunion joint is, how a generator works, or what to do when there is a problem and no computer to trouble shoot from? There will be the manufacturing manuals that I have with each car, but the pages are well “greased” from my trouble shooting finger prints over the years, and pages are tattered and ready to fall out of their bindings. Yes, this car will require getting your hands dirty when working on it.

Fuel for these cars might also be a problem for future owners of vintage cars. I heard on the news that by 2040 Europe wants to abandoned gas usage with everything new being electric cars. Can the U.S. be far beyond Europe to abandon the use of gasoline? I am glad I won't be here when that happens. Who knows, maybe the future value of my cars will be defined in dollars-per-pound for scrap steel. I can just imagine one youngster from the 2050's saying to another youngster, “What were those ‘white rings’ (whitewalls) on the tires for, when the car was made? (Time to turn-over in my grave.) After giving all this some thought, maybe it might be better to just be buried in my Sport Fury. Then 500 years from now, someone will dig me and the car up and put us in the Smithsonian in Washington, next to a sample roman chariot. For extra measure I will be sure to have 20 or so copies of the Plymouth Bulletin in the trunk for the archaeologist from National Geographic to dwell upon. Okay, maybe I am fantasizing somewhat, but the possibilities are endless.

I have always said I am glad I am at the age I am at today as I would not want to start life over. Whatever happens to my Sport Fury, I will have lived and experienced life in the 50's & 60's when the economy was booming and cars were exciting to own and drive. Unlike cars today that all look pretty much alike, when these cars were produced, no one could accuse the “Big Three” of producing cookie cutter cars. A Chrysler car was totally different from a Ford, and Ford and Chrysler cars were noticeably different from a GM car. I still like my 59 Sport Fury for it makes a statement for itself when cruising down the road.