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1976 Plymouth Gran Fury 440

           

    

For those who habitually look at the pictures before reading the text (if they read this drivel at all), I promise, I can explain. Yes, here in the middle of Sleeper Sedans in the Morning, I'm featuring a 1976 Plymouth Gran Fury. And no, I'm not joking.

I have an irrational love for traditional elephantine 1970s American sedans that has not yet been thoroughly chronicled in this space--though I promise it will be. The Gran Fury, and its Dodge Polara sibling, is one of my favorites. Distinctive styling, lots of space, the archetypal combination of floaty ride and bellowing V-8--what's not to love? Aside from arthritic acceleration and handling, that is.

However, today's Car Lust isn't the everyday Gran Fury--it's a hot sedan so "sleeper" that virtually nobody knows it exists.

In the mid-1970s, the Gran Fury and Polara were the most popular police cars around, but as the 1960s pinnacle of performance continued to crumble under the erosive pressures of fuel shortages and emissions regulations, the police began to notice that even their once-proud mounts were capable of little more than wheezing along in the slow lane.

Enter the 440 option--available to police and savvy civilians who knew how to finesse the option sheet. It was a marriage made in sleeper sedan heaven--a huge, incredibly heavy cruiser, married to the legendary 440 Mopar V-8. The combination provided the ultimate contest--the Gran Fury's immovable bulk against the 440's irresistible force.

Well, the 440 won, and won big. You see, the 440 was a heroic big-block, high-horsepower V-8 that had lived on from the 1960s muscle car era but had since been shelved. Plugged back into the Gran Fury police package, the 440 was diminished only slightly from its glory years.

In a sad era in which only top machinery could beat 7 seconds to 60, and in which the Ford Mustang II and Chevy Monza Spyder V-8 sports coupes limped to 60 in 12 seconds or more, the Gran Fury 440 bullied its way to 60 in the mid 7-second range and topped out at 130 mph. That made it easily the fastest American sedan of its time and left it nipping at the heels of Tuesday's Sleeper Sedan, the legendary Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9.

They're incredibly difficult to find now, but I've always wanted a Gran Fury 440. The idea of driving that massive sedan at 130 mph, fighting to keep control of the numb steering and flaccid suspension, as the blunt aerodynamics and howling V-8 batter the wind into submission... ah, nirvana! It's both as dumb and as exhilarating as climbing Mt. Everest without oxygen tanks.

These photos are not of the 440; but since it looked just like the regular Gran Fury, these (courtesy of www.allpar.com) are just fine for illustrating what might be the most under-the-radar stormer possible. What better than a sloppy old beige sedan with lurking menace under the hood? That's the whole idea behind Sleeper Sedans in the Morning.

--Chris H.

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Rather than lift the pics from Allpar, without reading - do some detective work, yourself.

The 440 legend is great. The car picutured. Not 1976. Not a Gran Fury either. The GRAN Fury was based on the larger C-body platform. Your lifted photos are a 77 or 78 Fury, no "Gran", Stan. This was a latter B-body Mopar during it's final huurah. Did they put the police "Pursuit" engines in them? Certainly.

Was it quick? For it's time, yes. All things considered, the late 70s were not tire peeling heydays for any auto manufacturer. These Late Bs would be slapped around like a pinball by earlier versions.

Don't mean to burst anyones bubble. Just set it straight.

Whoa ... on the "lifting" charge for Allpar, I did give credit to Allpar for the pics, which I think puts me at the 99th percentile mark for blog photo etiquette. If Allpar is unhappy with my usage, I'd be happy to pull the pics down at their request.

You're right - this isn't the same car, as I note. But it's shockingly hard to find good photos of Furies - Gran, 440, or otherwise - of this vintage. If you have better ones, I would be appreciative and happy to use them.

Andy G.: "Was it quick? For it's time, yes. All things considered, the late 70s were not tire peeling heydays for any auto manufacturer. These Late Bs would be slapped around like a pinball by earlier versions."

Well, yeah. But the important thing is how cars perform against their competitors. It would be unrealistic to expect any mid-to-late 1970s sedan to match up with a 1960s muscle car, or a 2000s sporty sedan. For its time, this car was a world-beater, and that's the important thing.

Hey, I found your place while doing a search for 1976 Plymouth Gran Fury. Just wanted to have a little "boast" about my ownership of two of them. I purchased a used Gran fury at a Police Auction in my college days. The car went like snot. I have many stories/tales of using the power of that highway intercepter and some of the antics this foolish schoolgirl and her buddies used to pull. I loved that car, everything in it was heavy duty. In it's latter years, I moved clear across the country with it hauling a very large trailer full of my belongings cruising at 80+ mph on the freeway with little effort. I had to let her go after someone rear ended me, the damage was too costly, but I was very happy to find and purchase another Gran Fury of the same year shortly after. This time it was from a Priest! Go figure. From Police force to Clergy. I loved my Gran Fury's both for the speed and the toughness of their model. The amount of travel/wear I gave them, both cars took it will very little mechanical difficulty. They were built for working hard. Good memories...thx

I, too, drove a 440 police fury in the early 1980s, and even wrote a poem about it:

He's Jake & Elwood's Bluesmobile
A Carolina cop car retired at age eight
The badge is gone but the power ain't
He can blow a Camero away!
No nursing home for this pensioned old Plymouth
He runs with a college co-ed
And while it's true he's no longer a man in blue
He certainly kept his beat

One of the best cars I ever drove.

Dorothy

the 60 and 70's cop cars are legendary. even 30 years later the copcars are finally matchin the performance of these old beasts.
To move these old 2 ton machines to 60 in 7 seconds is awesome.

The car in the pics is not a Gran Fury, which was full sized C- body. [Not only that, it's not a '76, which still had round headlights] The car is a 'small Fury' i.e. the mid-sized B body. Plymouth renamed the Satellite to Fury in 1975, so they could say it's 'now smaller' to the fuel crazed buyers.

This causes so much confusion with younger car fans, they get the big and small Dodges and Plymouths mixed up. Also, some assume that the Blues Brothers big C-body Monaco is the same as the B-body Monacos seen in many "Dukes of Hazzard" episodes.

Here are the names of 1970's Dodge/Plymouth fleet/cop cars:
C = full size, B = mid size

C body Dodge - 70-73 Polara, 74-76 Monaco, 77 Royal Monaco
C body Plymouth - 70-74 Fury I, 75-77 Gran Fury
B body Dodoge - 70-76 Coronet, 77-78 Monaco
B body Plymouth- 70 Belvedere, 71-74 Satellite, 75-78 Fury

Good to see a comment about cars like this, I've made a few 1:32 slot cars with this bodyshell and model kits from this era are very rare. It's like America has forgotten this part of its heritage.

But for a kid growing up watching early '80s American TV shows which were much more exciting than the British ones, cars like this were really good because they looked so dramatic.

There are plenty of pictures of 76 Gran Fury's out there. Here is a link to a really nice reproduction of a police interceptor using a real 440 powered Plymouth...

http://www.policecars.us/tony_tsitaridis_article1.html

Don't worry too much about the comments. I was once a prowd owner of the pictured car like that too. All I can say is that 360 v6 beat the boys in town, even some of the chevelle 312,s in there day. OHHH the memories. LOL

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