Thursday, June 26, 2014

Space-age Savoy

PLYMOUTH by Plymouth
I had just ridden the bike over the Prospect Expressway when I happened upon this wonderful oddity:
This is a 1962 Plymouth Savoy. I absolutely love this car! When this design came out in was very controversial, resulting with the man responsible for it being shown the door. It is undeniably quirky, but totally awesome at the same time.
The Savoy was the lowest-priced offering from Plymouth in '62. If you spent a little more you could get the Belvedere, with the Fury being the top of the heap. Both Savoy and Belvedere were named after famous hotels because why not? Incidentally, the movie car Christine was a Fury from 1958; in just 4 short years that swoopy, high-finned '50s classic became this little grocery getter.
This thing has funky lines all over it! The rear edge of the rear door coming to a point with the gentlest hint of a curve on the lower half is great. However, look at how the lower part of the window opening steps up a bit. That detail is so odd I can only assume that the window needed just that little bit of clearance when it was rolled down. The complete absence of chrome and trim says "budget edition".
Another identifying feature of the cheap-o Savoy model are the single taillights. Much like Chevy with their Impala vs Bel Aire, the more expensive the car the more taillights you get. Also, when was the last time you saw a car without reverse lights? I believe it was 1968 before federal law required them, but they were already pretty common by the time this was built. 
Rarely is the make of a car written in 2 different ways on the same vehicle. For some reason the trunk has PLYMOUTH in all stately caps while the curiously place door emblem has Plymouth in script. Another strange decision is that chrome band just under the window on the door. Is that supposed to make the overall opening look bigger, or hide the fact that the rear opening has that step up?
That concave grill is made up of what looks to be some basic screen material. I'm not entirely certain, but I think all 4 headlights are the same size; those bright trim rings around the outer pair gives the illusion that they are larger. This was a design cue that Dodge and Plymouth carried through the decade, with even more pronounced bug-eyed rings on later trucks and vans. And what about this little fluted lines on the inner-top of those trim rings? I assume they must serve a purpose as they're in a location not really visible from the street. I like how the bumper has a cut-out to make way for the faux-enormous headlights.
The design staff in a company as big as Chrysler/Plymouth/Dodge is huge, with the head guy at the top and dozens of worker bees beneath, toiling away in anonymity. However, sometimes a brilliant little moment makes it to production such as this fender-mounted mirror. You know some unknown designer was very proud of it and rightfully so! I love it on it's own.
The interior is just as funky as the exterior; just look at that bonkers Ren & Stimpy gauge cluster! The speedometer is off-center, which was another Mopar feature of the early '60s. The original owner ponied up the cash for the optional radio with a big fat mono speaker above it in the middle of the dash.

Here you can see a most excellent and unique feature; the pushbutton transmission! The buttons controlling the trans are mirrored on the other side of the gauge cluster by buttons controlling the heat. These transmissions were offered from the late '50s through the mid '60s, and worked very well. The strangest pushbutton tranny ever was in the 1958 Edsel; the buttons were arranged in a circle in the center of the steering wheel!
I was very happy to run across this plain-Jane oddball on the streets of Brooklyn. This is one car I would love to have for myself due to the combination of everyday reliability and crazy design, but I'm just happy it somehow survived all these years.

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