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.
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.
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.
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
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.