Back in 1963, John Comstock was a young man serving in the Navy's Pacific Fleet, stationed in Long Beach, California. With a steady paycheck and a love of cars, California wasn't a bad place to be stationed. "We hung out at Lions dragstrip on the weekends; cruised Bob's Big Boy in Whittier and the one in Pasadena; hit the Arby's Broiler in Downey; and went to Pomona sometimes, too." OK, so, for some guys, the good old days were great!
But while things may have been good for John and his buddies, they could have been a bit better had John been cruising the boulevards in the car of his choice. "I wanted a Max Wedge Sport Fury so bad I could taste it!" John says. "But I was only making $72 a month, so it just didn't happen." It would be almost 40 years before John finally acquired the car of his dreams.
John located the '63 in California in April of 1998 and commissioned Larry and Eilene of Straight Racing in Pomona to handle its restoration. Though the car needed to be restored, its as-found condition wasn't bad. "The car was painted black, the headliner was gone, the motor was out, and it had some mag wheels on it," John says, "but the body was all straight and the car was complete. When they started stripping it, the unique Copper Metallic paint was found on all the fenders, the doors, and the hood; so the car had never been apart."
There are currently only 13 426 Max Wedge Sport Furys recognized by the Chrysler Registry, and John's is Number 8 on the list. Built January 9, 1963 at the Lynch Road Assembly plant, the car came through with the 11:1 compression 426 Max Wedge rated at 415 horsepower; three-speed manual transmission; manual steering and brakes; standard front buckets; tach; heater; AM radio; tinted glass; glare-proof rearview mirror; Super Stock-delete left-hand outside mirror; 831/44 rearend equipped with Sure Grip and 3.91 gears; and 7.50x14 whitewall Rayon tires. It cost its first owner $3858.65.
Of special note on John's Fury are the battery location and the color. Being Number 8 of 13, John's is the last Fury equipped from the factory with the battery located under the hood. Number 9 was the first to employ the now-famous trunk mounting location. As for the striking Copper Metallic color, only two Max Wedge Sport Furys came with this color, the other being an automatic-equipped car. John gave us a copy of a letter from Chrysler Plymouth Division dated September 12, 1962 that reads: "To make the Super Stock 426 distinctive, we urge that you recommend to purchasers the striking new copper exterior color which is exclusive to Sport Fury models." Another interesting note is that backup lights were not functional on manual trans cars, though they were delivered with backup lights in place.
What makes the relationship between John and his car especially interesting is not that he finally has the car of his dreams, but that it's entirely likely their paths have crossed before. John has the original Broadcast Sheet, IBM card, and shipping destination of the car: Milne Brothers Plymouth Center, 1951 Colorado Street, Pasadena, California-only 20 miles away from Whittier, where John grew up. To make it even more interesting, a guy came up to John at the '99 Chrysler Classic and told John he knew the car. "He told me he remembered the car from when he was a kid," John says. "We think the car originally belonged to a guy named Ed Robinson in Pasadena. Ed worked at Milne Brothers, and worked at Pomona dragstrip on the weekends. In the January 1963 issue of Hot Rod magazine, they tested a new 426 Max Wedge at Pomona, and the tester's name was Bob McDaniels, who worked for Chrysler. The man who talked to me in Columbus was McDaniels' son, and he said he rode in the Fury many times when he was about 15 years old."
Did John ever watch this car put a whooping to a 409-powered Bel Air at the track? Was the Fury ever pulling out of Bob's Big Boy when John was pulling in? Did John turn left on Downey while the Fury turned right? No one will ever know. It took John almost 40 years to find the car of his dreams, and one long year (and a very understanding girlfriend) before it was finally in his garage. But now that it is, one thing is certain: John and his Fury won't be going their separate ways anytime soon.