So, when’s the last time you saw one of these? Here in the salty Midwest even the once-numerous ’80s Diplomats, Gran Furys and flossy Fifth Avenues are pretty much extinct, so I was happy to see this ’79 LeBaron coupe at the Trains, Planes and Automobiles show in historic Geneseo, IL, back in September of 2012. It looked very nice in black with red interior-a classic combo in your author’s opinion.
The VIP displaced the Sport Fury as the top big Plymouth in 1966, one year after the LTD and Caprice. And just like its competition, the VIP had the soon-to-be-typical chrome additions, plusher interior, vinyl roof and wood-grained dash and door panels. Although clearly a member of the Fury line, the VIP received its own special brochure apart from the Sport Fury and Furys III, II and I. Initially available only as a four-door hardtop (a hardtop coupe came later), it was marketed as a Plymouth for folks who wanted the finer things in life. Despite gilding the lily of the already well-equipped Sport Fury, the VIP looked as good as any of the other 1966 Mopar full-sizers, thanks to design chief Elwood Engel’s attractive square-rigged styling.
But only about 12,000 were built, compared to over 100,000 LTDs and 181,000 Caprices. And while it was, in your author’s opinion, as attractive and well-appointed as its cross-town rivals, it never broke 20,000 units during its existence from 1966 to 1969. A shame.
But new plans were afoot for the ’67 model year. While the ’66 Plymouths were most attractive in your author’s opinion, their squared-off styling was a little out of style with the advent of GM’s swoopy 1965 Chevrolets.
The 1960 Imperial was thoroughly restyled, along with its less prestigious corporate siblings. The 1959’s toothsome front end was replaced in favor of a smoother visage. Overall lines were smoother too, especially on the two-door Southampton and Crown convertible.
Time for another trip in the Wayback machine to look at the 1981-83 Imperial, courtesy of my friend Jim Smith. He thoughtfully took pictures of brand new luxury cars back when Brougham was still in, the tops were padded and opera lamps were expected!
The 1981 Imperial was Lee Iacocca’s last try at the Continental Mark III formula: Long, low, sleek, with every available convenience, a long hood, a short deck, and Broughamed out to the gills.
Valiant. Speak the name to anyone who grew up in the Sixties and it will almost certainly prompt a ton of memories, both good and bad: “Oh, my Aunt Becky and Uncle Sid had one, it was the toughest car they ever had!” Or, “I drove one in high school, got it for $100 off a shady used car lot and it was the dullest, slowest car I ever owned!” In approximately 95% of these circumstances, these memories will be prefaced by the words Plymouth Valiant–and indeed, Valiants were Plymouths from 1961 through 1976–but not in its inaugural year in 1960. Yes, 1960, a Buck Rogers year for sure! It was also The Year Of The Compacts: Corvair, Falcon, and of course, Valiant.
It’s funny, ever since I stopped regularly writing two years or so ago, I keep stumbling on old photo files and finding cars shot years ago that I totally forgot about. Whenever I see an interesting old car, I get all excited and think “I will write this up tonight! It’s so cool!” Then three or four years go by. Such is the case with this 1969 full-size Plymouth. Continue Reading →