Friday, March 24, 2017

A lesson in conformity

Mopar (which encompasses Chrysler, Dodge, and Plymouth) was known for outlandish styling and totally unique designs both in the beginning and the end of the '60s. However the first go-round was a massive flop that almost sunk the ship. Time to reel it back a bit!
Here is the still very pleasing yet somewhat conservative result. This is a 1965 Plymouth Belvedere II in Black. This ride looks exactly how I imagine mid-'60s Mopars to look: shabby yet eager to drive.
Little ripples and dents pepper this ride but nothing seems devastating. Decades of parking bumps add up.
This grill looks great to me. It is delicate though as you can see the gauge of metal in this pic. Those tiny bumper guards were *added at some point to help keep the grill but surely they can't do much. Those are the Donald Trump Hands of bumper guards!
*I was surprised to find out that these are original 1965 Mopar items. I stand corrected.
Everything about this car is straightforward and clean.
The upmarket Fury had stacked quad headlights as opposed to these duals.
1965 was all about straight lines and flat body panels. The accent line that starts on top of each headlight and continues back to form the window base helps keep it dynamic.
This awesomely '60s V8 emblem most likely means there is the 273 V8 under the hood. There were a full 4 other V8 engines available in those heady times: the 318, 361, 383, and mighty 426 Hemi.
This sweet Belvedere II emblem denoted the mid-tier trim level. Belvedere I was a stripped down model for fleet use and penny pinchers. The top of the line was named the Satellite; there was no III.
*That dog dish or poverty hubcap is indeed  from a Plymouth but a 1969-1974 model.
This is an intermediate size car, and was described as such in the sales literature of the day. Chrysler made a poor bet in 1962 by downsizing their largest cars so that there really wasn't a full size yacht in the lineup. Unfortunately their thinking was at least a decade early and sales took a mighty hit. America had spoken and they wanted enormous cars! In 1965 they restored order by making the flagship Fury huge again. Popularity followed suit.
The roofline is subtle but neat. There is a rake to the rooftop with the rear base and trunk just a bit higher than the front. To accentuate the look the rear window goes all the way up to the roof whereas the windshield is set an inch or so down.
This beast had a lot of stage presence in 2016 when I took these pics.
The rear is no nonsense. Reverse lights? Who needs 'em!
I didn't get too close as it seemed a particularly exposed location but there's no hiding that red interior. Even a 4 door sedan is bad ass with this color combo.
One thing I can tell you without looking inside is that this year marked the return of a traditional automatic transmission shifter on the column. From 1956 on they offered a push button transmission that worked very well. Supposedly the unit cost $1 more to manufacture than the column shift and so they moved away from it.
*The strangest push button transmission of all time was undoubtedly the 1958 Edsel which had the buttons in the center of the steering wheel! Imagine honking the horn and slamming your car into reverse instead.
If you look into the rear wheel well you can glimpse the old school leaf spring suspension. These work great when in good condition but if worn out make for a ridiculously bouncy ride.
We'll close this out with the proper 1965 dog dish hubcap. I love these simple caps which manage to have plenty of style in a very simple design. You could say that about this entire car actually.
As always with '60s and '70s Mopars the parts are available and the quality is fantastic. These are the cars that will not die. If you find one in drivable condition without too much rust buy it! You'll enjoy quirky styling in cars much less common than any Ford or Chevy.

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