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Suddenly its 1960
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GaryS
Posted 2020-02-20 5:21 PM (#594585)
Subject: Suddenly its 1960



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This may not interest anyone, but several years ago I wrote an article for a club newsletter. It was a first-hand story about the arrival of the 1957 new cars, and my impressions at the time. FWIW, here it is.

It was September of 1956. We were listening to songs like “Blueberry Hill”, by Fats Domino. Elvis had just appeared on the Ed Sullivan show, and “Love Me Tender” was shooting to the top of the charts. Ike was president and the biggest complaint his detractors had was that he played golf too much. I had recently celebrated my fifteenth birthday and had had a driver’s license since I was 13 years old. I lived on a farm near a small town in North Dakota and like everyone else my age, after the farm work was done, we spent the evenings cruising the streets, listening to music, looking for girls and talking with friends about cars. Gas was around 27 cents a gallon and a pack of Winstons could be had from the cigarette machine in the Lakeside Cafe for a quarter. We’d chip in to buy a dollar’s worth of gas, a pack of cigarettes and a big bottle of some kind of soft drink. We shared until everything was gone. Life was good.

It was the most memorable year I can remember when it came to new car introductions. I suppose it was because of my age, but I like to think the wonderful cars had more than a little to do with it. I was already a dyed-in-the-wool Mopar fan, but I was interested in all makes and models, as were my friends.

I don’t remember if it was Ford or Chevrolet that launched their new ’57 models first, but the only auto dealer in town at that time sold Fords, so it was the first one I saw. I can remember that night as if it was yesterday.

It was a pleasant Indian summer evening and I and a couple of buddies had made yet another one of our endless loops around the main drag in my slightly customized ’48 Plymouth 2-door sedan. The buzzy old tube-powered AM radio was tuned to KOMA in Oklahoma City and the static of distant lightning crackling through the single speaker was only a slight irritation. The son of the local Ford dealer was also cruising in his ’56 Fairlane hardtop, and when he saw us, he flagged us down and let us know that they were getting two new Fords that night and if we wanted to see them, we should be behind the dealership about 9 PM. They always brought in the new cars under cover of darkness so they would be a surprise when the showroom opened in the morning. The new models were developed under strict secrecy, and we were never able to see the new cars until they actually hit the dealership. There was no such thing as early previews and I don’t recall ever seeing a spy shot of a yet-to-be released car model.

When the hauler pulled in, there were three carloads of kids and several adults waiting for the driver to unload his exciting cargo. He was carrying a white Custom 300, 4-door sedan and a gold and white Fairlane 500, 2-door hardtop. While he was unchaining the two cars, one of the adults went up to the owner of the dealership and asked to see the invoice for the hardtop. He actually wrote a full-price check for the car before it even rolled off the hauler, but he had to let it sit in the showroom for 2 days, until they got another car to show. The consensus in our little group was that the Fairlane was a beautiful car.

The next ’57 we saw was a Chevrolet. I think it was a couple of days later. Since there was no dealer in town, we didn’t expect to see one until the Sunday newspaper did a spread, or we got to see it on television. However, we were in luck as we spotted a dusky rose and white 2-door hardtop Bel Air parked next to the Westland gas station. The first comment out of one of my buddies was: “They stole the fins and taillight shapes from a ’56 Plymouth!” It was surprising that none of us was impressed with the design. I guess we weren’t the only ones who were unimpressed, as Ford outsold Chevrolet that year.

My dad had just bought a ’56 Plymouth Belvedere 4-door sedan a couple of weeks earlier. The dealer had asked him if he wanted to wait for the ‘57s, but dad decided the deal on the outgoing model was too good to pass up. When he brought the Belvedere home, he showed me a postcard the dealer had given him. It was a shot of the headlight, turn signal light, and eyebrow of a ’57 Plymouth, and the words “Suddenly it’s 1960.” Car design had been pretty much evolutionary up until then and I was excited by what was obviously going to be a radical design. Needless to say, I was disappointed that dad didn’t wait for the new models, and I was seriously lobbying for him to get a 2-door hardtop, instead of the grandpa 4-door sedan.

The International Harvester farm implement dealer in town owned the IH franchise in a neighboring town and he also sold Chryslers and Plymouths at that location. He occasionally brought a new car or two to our town, and the evening of the Plymouth unveiling, he parked a burgundy and white Belvedere 4-door sedan in front of the implement showroom. I can remember being ecstatic over the car, even if it had too many doors. The low profile, huge windows and jaunty fins were so impressive. Imagine putting a rearview mirror on the dash! And that instrument cluster with the huge speedometer! Gorgeous!

We must have spent an hour viewing that car from every angle and speculating what kind of handling it must have with the new Torsion-Aire suspension. While we all liked the styling of the ’57 Ford, and were ho-hum about the 3-year old Chevy design, the Plymouth was definitely the star of the show.

That same night, we saw the first of the new Dodge models on the Lawrence Welk television show. Television was always the first place we got to see the new Mopars. DeSoto sponsored Groucho Marx, while the Chrysler Theater drama show always introduced the entire fleet. Even if everything was in black and white, I fell in love with all the new Chrysler Corporation cars. They were the epitome of car design and I still have that opinion.

It was a few weeks before I actually got to ride in a ’57 Plymouth. My buddy’s uncle bought a red and white Savoy, 2-door sedan, with a 301 V8 and PowerFlite. Despite the 2-speed automatic, it was surprisingly fast and handily trounced my dad’s 277 equipped Belvedere. It also out-handled and out-braked the ’56 by a wide margin.

My most memorable ride in a ’57 came three years later when I was home on leave from the Air Force. A new kid had moved to town with a ’57 Fury, equipped with a manual transmission. He had made some performance enhancing mods, like a custom-grind cam and operational lake pipes that could be opened by unscrewing the caps.

The night started when we raced a brand new 318-powered ’60 Plymouth from a neighboring town. We whipped him like he was sitting still, and after the kid driving the ’60 headed home with his tail tucked between his legs, the Fury owner decided to show us what his car could do. He took us on a high-speed run in the country and after a couple of miles with his foot planted on the floor, the speedometer was indicating 135 mph. I was puckered extremely tight by that time, but he was complaining because he had once had it near an indicated 150.

We had pulled over and opened the lake pipes and the Fury was really blasting into the quiet rural night as we made another high speed run back to town. They must have heard us 10 miles away. This time the needle was nudging 145 as we were coming down a long grade outside of town. He wanted to make another run to see if he could get more out of it going the other direction, but I quickly declined the offer to accompany him. Even the heavier suspension couldn’t keep the Fury from playing porpoise at high speed and I wasn’t willing to tempt fate again.

I feel sorry for anyone who wasn’t around to experience the cars from my generation. It was truly a golden era, but I only wish I could have lived it with the knowledge and appreciation I have for those cars today.
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56D500boy
Posted 2020-02-20 7:48 PM (#594595 - in reply to #594585)
Subject: RE: Suddenly its 1960



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Great story. Thanks for posting. I for one enjoyed reading it.

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1960fury
Posted 2020-02-21 6:05 AM (#594613 - in reply to #594585)
Subject: Re: Suddenly its 1960



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Wonderful read! Thank you!!!!
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fc7_plumcrazy
Posted 2020-02-21 8:09 AM (#594619 - in reply to #594585)
Subject: Re: Suddenly its 1960


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thanks for sharing the memories

Carsten
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Shep
Posted 2020-02-21 10:25 AM (#594623 - in reply to #594585)
Subject: Re: Suddenly its 1960



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Great article. I seem to remember those speedos ended at 120,no?
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jpmopar
Posted 2020-02-21 11:36 AM (#594629 - in reply to #594623)
Subject: Re: Suddenly its 1960



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'57-'58 Fury speedometers went to 150. All other Plymouth models those years went to 120. In his story, he's describing a guy with a '57 Fury.
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57burb
Posted 2020-02-21 12:19 PM (#594631 - in reply to #594629)
Subject: Re: Suddenly its 1960



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Great story. Ponder, TX - you're in my neck of the woods. Will you be at the Decatur swap meet this weekend?
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imopar380
Posted 2020-02-21 9:47 PM (#594651 - in reply to #594631)
Subject: Re: Suddenly its 1960



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Cool story, thanks for sharing.
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GaryS
Posted 2020-02-21 10:38 PM (#594654 - in reply to #594631)
Subject: Re: Suddenly its 1960



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Not sure if I'll make it to Decatur this year. Lots of things going on this weekend, but I've never been to that swap meet and its on my list of events I need to attend.
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Sonoramic60
Posted 2020-02-22 5:12 PM (#594697 - in reply to #594654)
Subject: Re: Suddenly its 1960


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Gary --
It's great to see another old fudd around here!
How did your buddy work those Lake Plugs? I remember some guys had plain 2" plumbing-type caps that they just screwed on and off, but the problem with them was they got too hot to touch. When I put a set of Hedman Hedders on that '60 Fury with the SonoRamic Commando I had then, I had chrome plates that were bolted on to flanged extentions coming off the headers. These had the disadvantage of having to undo each of the three bolts to take them off, but the advantage of sometimes leaking just a bit (a nice effect).
I also put 4.10 gears in her so that old Big-Tailed Beast was quite capable of surprising 409 Chevys at a stop light Grand Prix and Goats were meat on the table on Main Street.
Those indeed were great days.
Joe Godec
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GaryS
Posted 2020-02-22 9:54 PM (#594710 - in reply to #594585)
Subject: Re: Suddenly its 1960



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Hi, Joe. It's been a long time, but I seem to recall that the caps were screw mounted, but I don't remember how many, or exactly what kind of screws. For some reason a couple of wingnuts on studs, rings a bell, but I might be totally wrong. I do recall that the pipes were long and they were chromed with flanges that turned out just before the rear wheels.

I know that the night we raced the '60 Plymouth, we each removed one side and it was quick and easy.

FWIW, I'm planning on another trip to the Seattle area this summer and am hoping to stop in Denver and see the Mopars on the Mall show...if it will be held there again. This time I'd like to spend more time visiting with everyone.


Yes, those days were great.
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Sonoramic60
Posted 2020-02-23 4:00 PM (#594733 - in reply to #594710)
Subject: Re: Suddenly its 1960


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Gary --
The MOPARs on the Mall wasn't held last year for some reason, but I hope it will be held this year.
I'm in Colorado Springs so you might check on some of things we do here or stop by anyway.
Joe
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1960fury
Posted 2020-03-17 7:34 AM (#595668 - in reply to #594733)
Subject: Re: Suddenly its 1960



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Because I love these storys, I bump it again and post some contemporary pictures of a lost era, more distant from 2020 than any time in history.
To the old-timers, Joe, Gary, et al. stay save and sound, we need you!

Edited by 1960fury 2020-03-17 8:34 AM




(lost50s10.jpg)



(lost50smarch57LOOK.jpg)



(lost50s9.jpg)



(lost50s7.jpg)



(lost50s6.jpg)



(lost50s1.jpg)



(Lost50sa.jpg)



(lost50sMD1958.jpg)



(lost50sScreenshot.png)



(57frd.jpg)



Attachments
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Attachments lost50s10.jpg (29KB - 6 downloads)
Attachments lost50smarch57LOOK.jpg (69KB - 5 downloads)
Attachments lost50s5.jpeg (164KB - 6 downloads)
Attachments lost50s9.jpg (23KB - 5 downloads)
Attachments lost50s7.jpg (107KB - 5 downloads)
Attachments lost50s6.jpg (48KB - 5 downloads)
Attachments lost50s3.jpeg (171KB - 5 downloads)
Attachments lost50s1.jpg (96KB - 6 downloads)
Attachments Lost50sa.jpg (34KB - 6 downloads)
Attachments lost50sMD1958.jpg (356KB - 6 downloads)
Attachments lost50sScreenshot.png (215KB - 5 downloads)
Attachments 57frd.jpg (45KB - 6 downloads)
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Shep
Posted 2020-03-17 8:35 AM (#595669 - in reply to #595668)
Subject: Re: Suddenly its 1960



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Great stuff!!
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jpmopar
Posted 2020-03-19 1:28 AM (#595739 - in reply to #594585)
Subject: RE: Suddenly its 1960



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Sid,

I love the vintage pictures you posted. I'll keep things going along that thread with a couple of cool vintage photos from my family's past. During high school and just after, my late father dated the daughter of the owner of our local Plymouth-Desoto (and International) dealership, Bastian Motors. During high school, Dad worked at the dealership doing various jobs. He graduated in 1956 and served in the Marines until the fall of '58. While in the service, his girlfriend (Kitty Sue) would send him photos of her and here are two taken on her father's dealership lot. The one photo is her in a new '58 Fury and the second photo is her and her friend Carol sitting on the hood of a '58 Desoto. The neat thing about the second photo (to me especially!) is that when Dad and Kitty Sue broke up, her friend Carol is the person who set my Dad and Mom up on their first date, while she and Mom were both nursing students. Without her I (and my brother and sister) wouldn't be here!

Jim

Edited by jpmopar 2020-03-19 2:00 AM




(Kitty Sue 1958 Fury..jpg)



(Kitty Sue & Carol Bastian Motors..jpg)



Attachments
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Attachments Kitty Sue 1958 Fury..jpg (140KB - 6 downloads)
Attachments Kitty Sue & Carol Bastian Motors..jpg (136KB - 6 downloads)
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1960fury
Posted 2020-03-19 7:32 AM (#595742 - in reply to #595739)
Subject: RE: Suddenly its 1960



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Thank you very much for sharing these wonderful, wonderful picture and the story behind!!!! Old-timers, keep em coming!
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