Buy/Drive/Burn: A Chrysler Fuselage Trio From 1971

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
buy drive burn a chrysler fuselage trio from 1971

It started off casually enough, in the luxury Slack chat environment of TTAC just a day or so ago. Amidst a conversation about large Chryslers of the early ’70s, TTAC’s Steph Willems declared he wasn’t sure which fuselage-design Chrysler product he’d choose to take home.

Let’s see if we can’t venture some opinions on this topic.

Chrysler’s C-body resided under a multitude of vehicles with Dodge, Plymouth, Chrysler, and Imperial badges on their exteriors. A flexible platform, wheelbases varied from a svelte 119 inches up to a long 127 inches. We’ll start with the smallest and work our way upward, though the Polara you see up there is not an option. Oh, and ’71 was the last year before emissions regulations started their stranglehold — you’re welcome.

Plymouth Fury III

Riding on the 120-inch version of the platform, the Fury model was the most flexible of our tri0 with regard to options and engines, even carrying a Slant-6 at one point. The fifth-generation Fury debuted for 1969, becoming more rounded with each passing year. Our selection today is a Fury III in four-door hardtop format. We’ve opted for all the newest luxury items, including stereo with cassette recorder, and integrated headlamp washers. The 320 horsepower, 440 cubic inch V8 is present as well.

Dodge Monaco

Stepping up to a 122-inch wheelbase model, the Dodge Monaco name was a bit younger than the Fury. In its second generation for 1969, the model was significantly revised for 1970, and revised again to a lesser extent for ’71, featuring a new grille and rear lighting treatments. Today’s Monaco option is a two-door hardtop with bucket seats, and the same stereo setup as in the Fury. Dog not included, but the 440 is (smaller V8s were available).

Imperial LeBaron

Grandest of the grand, the 127-inch wheelbase supported the Imperial LeBaron. Officially still a separate marque through 1975, the Imperial was in its fourth generation for 1969. Minor cosmetic alterations (read: less trim) in 1970 led the way for some rebranding in 1971. The Imperial Eagle at the front was replaced by block lettering, and the rear end hinted at what was to come, reading “IMPERIAL by Chrysler.” Sporty bucket seats have no place in Imperial, but a bench works nicely. A first for production cars, ABS was available this year — an option we’ve selected. Such a car as Imperial could only do with the 440 V8, so there were no other engine choices.

Small, bigger, biggest, and 7.2 liters of V8. Which one goes home with the buy?

[Images: Chrysler]

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  • Sgeffe Sgeffe on Aug 04, 2018

    Time-warp B/D/B suggestions: 1971 GM A-bodies: Olds 4-4-2 W30, Chevelle SS, Buick GS 455 Stage whatever-is-most-powerful. Ace Of Base 1979 A-bodies: Olds Cutlass Salon Coupe, Chevy Malibu Coupe, Buick Century Coupe (which was also an Aeroback like the Olds, and might have had the turbocharged 3.8 V6 as an option). G-body swan song: 1987 Olds Cutlass Classic whatever-the-sportiest-coupe-was, Buick GNX, Chevy Monte Carlo SS (or were only the Olds and Bruick around for ‘87?) 1980 C-bodies: Olds 98, Buick Electra, Caddy Sedan DeVille. 1974 Ford PLCs: LTD/Mercury Cougar/Lincoln Mark IV. 1979 Ford big coupes: LTD/Mercury Marquis/Lincoln Mark V 1981 Mopar Coupes: Chrysler Córdoba/Dodge Mirada/Chrysler Imperial. Last Big GM PLCs: 1985 Olds Toronado/Buick Riviera/Caddy Eldorado. (Or has this been done?) Mopar M-bodies: Plymouth Gran Fury/Dodge Diplomat/Chrysler Fifth Avenue (pick the closest year to end-of-production where all three cars were available to the general public). Malaise-Era Fords: Granada/Mercury Monarch/Lincoln Versailles (preferably during a year when all three shared the same wheelbase).

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    • Sgeffe Sgeffe on Aug 06, 2018

      @Arthur Dailey I guess I was going by size, as I remember seeing a couple of ‘73-‘74 LTD coupes with opera windows, and which looked just like the Mark IV in side-profile. I thought that the Cougar was the equivalent. From your stories of family travels in Mark IVs, I thought that might pique your interest. But you’re exactly right about the longer T-Bird from that time. (I was trying to come up with the down level Mark V equivalents, and by then, the T-Bird and Cougar were on the intermediate chassis formerly the Torino (and Elite), but couldn’t recall exactly.) Was the dashboard and IP identical in the Marks IV and V? It seems like Ford had enough commonality to be able to pull that off back then. (Most obvious was the Fox Mustang and Fairmont with the same dashes, but seeing the Fox T-Bird dash (‘80-‘81) in the LTD/Marquis a few years later was more cognitive dissonance!)

  • DweezilSFV DweezilSFV on Aug 05, 2018

    Buy the Imperial, drive the Dodge, burn the Plymouth, the least attractive of all three.

  • Max So GM will be making TESLAS in the future. YEA They really shouldn’t be taking cues from Elon musk. Tesla is just about to be over.
  • Malcolm It's not that commenters attack Tesla, musk has brought it on the company. The delivery of the first semi was half loaded in 70 degree weather hauling potato chips for frito lay. No company underutilizes their loads like this. Musk shouted at the world "look at us". Freightliners e-cascads has been delivering loads for 6-8 months before Tesla delivered one semi. What commenters are asking "What's the actual usable range when in say Leadville when its blowing snow and -20F outside with a full trailer?
  • Funky D I despise Google for a whole host of reasons. So why on earth would I willing spend a large amount of $ on a car that will force Google spyware on me.The only connectivity to the world I will put up with is through my phone, which at least gives me the option of turning it off or disconnecting it from the car should I choose to.No CarPlay, no sale.
  • William I think it's important to understand the factors that made GM as big as it once was and would like to be today. Let's roll back to 1965, or even before that. GM was the biggest of the Big Three. It's main competition was Ford and Chrysler, as well as it's own 5 brands competing with themselves. The import competition was all but non existent. Volkswagen was the most popular imported cars at the time. So GM had its successful 5 brands, and very little competition compared to today's market. GM was big, huge in fact. It was diversified into many other lines of business, from trains to information data processing (EDS). Again GM was huge. But being huge didn't make it better. There are many examples of GM not building the best cars they could, it's no surprise that they were building cars to maximize their profits, not to be the best built cars on the road, the closest brand to achieve that status was Cadillac. Anyone who owned a Cadillac knew it could have been a much higher level of quality than it was. It had a higher level of engineering and design features compared to it's competition. But as my Godfather used to say "how good is good?" Being as good as your competitors, isn't being as good as you could be. So, today GM does not hold 50% of the automotive market as it once did, and because of a multitude of reasons it never will again. No matter how much it improves it's quality, market value and dealer network, based on competition alone it can't have a 50% market share again. It has only 3 of its original 5 brands, and there are too many strong competitors taking pieces of the market share. So that says it's playing in a different game, therfore there's a whole new normal to use as a baseline than before. GM has to continue downsizing to fit into today's market. It can still be big, but in a different game and scale. The new normal will never be the same scale it once was as compared to the now "worlds" automotive industry. Just like how the US railroad industry had to reinvent its self to meet the changing transportation industry, and IBM has had to reinvent its self to play in the ever changing Information Technology industry it finds it's self in. IBM was once the industry leader, now it has to scale it's self down to remain in the industry it created. GM is in the same place that the railroads, IBM and other big companies like AT&T and Standard Oil have found themselves in. It seems like being the industry leader is always followed by having to reinvent it's self to just remain viable. It's part of the business cycle. GM, it's time you accept your fate, not dead, but not huge either.
  • Tassos The Euro spec Taurus is the US spec Ford FUSION.Very few buyers care to see it here. FOrd has stopped making the Fusion long agoWake us when you have some interesting news to report.