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"Die Cast X", October 1, 2012

SUNSTAR 1960 PLYMOUTH FURY CONVERTIBLE

by Joe Kelly Jr.

It was wild-looking, to be sure, and Plymouth’s 1960 Fury is just the kind of car that Sunstar does best — big American machines with styling and flair that could only have come from the Motor City. This example gets a little help from aftermarket “Foxcraft” chrome fender skirts, and offers major bang for the buck.

1:18 | $90

Plymouth had a bit of a problem when the ‘60s dawned: just three years earlier, it had trumpeted its groundbreaking lineup with the catchphrase “Suddenly, it’s 1960!”... and, now, it was. But Chrysler Design had been hit by bad luck. The brilliant Virgil Exner, who had penned the fantastic 1957 lineup, suffered a massive heart attack in July of 1956, and, despite ill health, was trying to cover his position as Chrysler’s first VP of Design. Then, a late 1957 power struggle literally fractured the design department.

And, did we mention the recession? In 1960, folks were hanging on to their wallets; after the high water mark of 1957, big cars with big fins were hardly flying off the showroom floors. Instead, gas-sipping compacts like FoMoCo’s Falcon and Comet, Chevrolet’s Corvair, and Chrysler Corp’s own Valiant, which was sold through Plymouth dealerships, were becoming the stars of the showrooms. Plymouth needed a car that would bring back big-car buyers.

As it happened, the 1960 Plymouth was not that car. Sales of full-sized Plymouths tumbled, and had the Valiant not been a part of the division’s overall sales numbers, it’s a good bet that a few Highland Park higher-ups would have been using those tailfins to dangle upside down from — or worse.

Given that context, Sunstar’s choice to do a top-line ’60 Plymouth Fury convertible is beyond bold — it’s outrageous. So was the car. In retrospect, few design elements from the era can match the drama of those front fenders, or that ... interesting trunk treatment.

It’s all on display from bumper to heavily chromed bumper on this pre-production piece. Though a couple of details are still cooking, first looks at the model are almost overwhelming; seeing all of those styling elements in scale can cause a reaction akin to cramming a wedge of wedding cake into your mouth all at once. Step back and take smaller bites, however, and it comes across as a piece that’s worthy of the “Platinum Collection” moniker that it will wear once on sale. The casting is big and smooth, and it’s been painted well; under the Buttercup Yellow and Oyster White two-tone, the fitment of the doors and opening hood and trunk, all on real-aspect hinges, is good, too, especially for a pre-pro. And, joy of joys — the photo-etched “Fury” and “Plymouth” badges that always add so much in the way of realism to this line of models (and that have, on prior releases, occasionally caused heartburn), are firmly and securely attached here.

The model’s lensing is a treat. In addition to the head and taillights, there are clear faces for the parking lights up front and for the reverse lamps, and each has a “bulb” cast in; while you have the loupe out, have a look at the medallion on the tailfin, and in the center of that “Sport Deck” trunk adornment. The interior warrants a couple of visits, too; even if the clear-sectioned “Aero” steering wheel seems to be at an odd angle, the patterns on the seats and the neat dash, plus the tri-toned color scheme — trimmed in gold, mind you — make the top-down car pop. So does the optional ($52) RCA record player mounted under the dash, and the sweet swiveling front buckets and visors. The trunk’s matted with real fabric, and the mid-range 361 cube, 305-horse Golden Commando 395 engine under the hood (the “395” was its torque rating) is a dazzler with a red block, gold-toned valve covers and air cleaner, and pretty much every wire, pipe, and hose you could want, hung right where you’d want it.

Sunstar keeps finding new ways to engage 1:18 collectors, and the Platinum Collection has become one of the few remaining steady sources of good, highly detailed models in the hobby. The price points have remained reasonable, and the subject matter — especially when it’s as left-field as this — makes for entertaining collectibles. Suddenly, it’s 1960 — and that’s just fine by us.

Sources

Sunstar Toys sunstartoys.com

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