1964 Plymouth Fury - A Maximum Effort
This '64 Became Paul Dunham's Finished Frustration
From the April, 2008 issue of Mopar Muscle
By Bob Mehlhoff
Photography by Bob Mehlhoff
Plymouth set the automotive world on fire when they released the newly designed '64 model. Although the new car shared much of the '63's styling theme, the '64's obvious refinements provided a touch of added convention with pop style. The excitement continued under the hood where buyers could opt for engines flexing several variations of big power. The new front grille and V-shaped fender points complemented the unique hardtop roofline with its supporting bold and triangulated C-pillars exceptionally well. the new body style was more aerodynamic than the '63s were. At the '64 Daytona 500, the slipperier Plymouth with its tremendous performance captured the number 1, 2, and 3 race finishes with Richard Petty holding the lead. It was a first-time win at Daytona for Plymouth in many years. Most everyone from racers to the buying public loved the '64's styling, engineering, and performance.
Like many Mopar guys, Paul Dunham has always admired '64 Plymouths and, especially, the Sport Fury. It was 30 years ago that Paul, then a 16-year-old, bought his first '64 Sport Fury from his brother Bob. Back then, he enjoyed the following four years rowing the factory four-speed and wrenching on the 383 engine. By the early '80s, his responsibilities had grown and he sold his '64. he spent the next two decades developing his upholstery business (Classic Touch in Lancaster, California) and fulfilling family obligations, but always longing for another Sport Fury.
The stunning Sport Fury interior...
The stunning Sport Fury interior was assembled by Paul in his own upholstery shop, Classic Touch in Lancaster, California. Before any new vinyl was fitted to the seats, he stripped the seats down to the metal frames and then sandblasted and powdercoated them. Next, he added new burlap and repadded the seats with high-quality foam to provide a strong seat foundation. Other interior details included repainting the seat-track return springs to factory red, rechroming all the interior trim, and purchasing a N.O.S. set of Sport Fury door panel emblems on eBay for $325. Redline Gauge Works and G Car Plastic Grille and Trim helped restore the instrument cluster, and Just Dashes restored the dashpad.
By 2004, Paul's business was running fairly well, and with the help of his wife, Monica, his life with his five kids was fairly stable. Just about then Paul realized he could finally afford the time for a little automotive diversity-a '64 Sport Fury. But he thought finding one so many years later would be a challenge. That was until one day he picked up a classifieds paper and thumbed to the antique car section. There he found an ad that read: '64 Plymouth Sport Fury project car, MUST SELL, $2,500 or ? within minutes, he had the seller on the phone and was headed out to take a look. Once there, he saw that the old Plymouth needed some sheetmetal work, another door, a few trim parts, and it didn't run, but he knew he could transform it into his dream car with some dedicated work. So with a little tire kicking, Paul bargained the selling price down to $1,100 and that afternoon had the project car home.
With his rare find in his garage, Paul spent the next several hours surveying the car and came up with a rigorous game plan to make this B-Body better than new. To achieve his goal, he decided to purchase many of the needed parts from swap meets or on eBay and secure a donor Plymouth to serve as an on-hand parts car for any needed sheetmetal. But most importantly, he'd make certain that all the work performed on the '64 Sport Fury would strictly adhere to concourse quality.
Within just a few months, Paul's eBay shopping spree began to pay off with rewards to complete his inventory of Sport Fury trim. Then one afternoon while running an errand in an old part of town, Paul got lost. When he turned around, he found the perfect candidate to serve as a donor Plymouth in a dirt lot. Although it was nothing more than just a rust-free and straight Belvedere, it had the needed panels to renovate his Sport Fury. for the paltry price of 100 bucks, the seller was glad to have someone move the non-running old car off his property.
The underside of Paul's Sport...
The underside of Paul's Sport Fury is as sano and functional as the top. The powdercoated rearend is a narrowed '65 Plymouth 831/44 unit with flanged axles and holds a set of 3.91 gears with an Auburn center unit. Paul added weld-in frame connectors to strengthen the body and an Inland Empire Driveline aluminum driveshaft to handle the massive torque. To create that cool Mopar exhaust symphony, he added a set of 2-inch tti headers connected to a big tti system that includes a 3-inch, under-car system and matching DynoMax mufflers.
Now with his game plan coming together, he set out to perform what would turn into his greatest challenge-achieving concourse quality. Most old cars wear more than one coat of paint and carry a few body issues, and Paul's Plymouth was no exception. Since his plan called for mirror straight black paint, the car needed to be media blasted and then sent to a quality paint and body shop. Once the media blasting was completed, the car was taken to the first body shop, where the body man quickly lost interest after discovering just how serious Paul was about high quality. Two painters later, Paul finally found the right guy, who made the body perfectly straight and then sprayed on generous coats of jet black PPG.
While all of this was going on, Paul sent out his taillights for replating and ran into more difficulties when the chrome shop damaged his cores. To find replacements, he spent months online and finally collected another set of viable taillights. Finding those items was especially challenging because the needed cores are unique to only Fury and Sport Fury models and are prone to pitting. After several months, the taillights and all the other chrome items were replated to meet his unwavering standards.
Since Paul's expertise is upholstery, he performed most of the interior renovations himself, using seat and door panel kits from Legendary Auto Interiors. The aging dashpad was handed off to Just Dashes in Van Nuys, California, where the original pad was reskinned with a special vacuum process to closely match the factory appearance. Special attention was given to the entire instrument housing where G Car Plastic Grille and Trim renovated the chrome plastic instrument bezel to a better-than-new appearance. Next, the factory instruments were recalibrated and refaced at Redline Gauge Works to exceed new condition.
Pop the hood of Paul's '64,...
Pop the hood of Paul's '64, and you'll find an impressive Max Wedge cross-ram intake manifold topped off with two Edelbrock 750 carbs, an MSD ignition, and free-flowing, tti 2-inch, coated headers. Paul and Bob Stagg assembled the 505-inch RB engine and then used a paint gun to apply coats of Hemi orange hue. During the build, Paul spent months making certain to install every underhood detail with careful attention.
Paul's objective also called for glistening exterior aluminum and stainless trim to bounce shine off the deep black paint. To fulfill this goal, he collected every molding, grille section, and headlight bezel and sent them to the King of Trim (kingoftrim.com) in North Hollywood, California. There they were straightened, buffed, and renewed to shine better than ever.
To power his Mopar, Paul pulled a 440 from a worn out '67 Chrysler, disassembled it, and delivered it to Adams Metallizing & Grinding Machine Shop in Lancaster, California, where it was cleaned, decked, and bored. Paul and his buddy Bob Stagg assembled the short-block with a large by huge hydraulic Comp Cam, Eagle 4.25-inch stroke forged crank, JE forged .030-inch-over pistons, and a Milodon pan and oiling system. The longer stroke 4.25-inch Eagle crankshaft and .030-inch-over slugs yielded 505 torquey cubic inches. Then they topped the works off with a set of Edelbrock RPM aluminum cylinder heads and a reproduction cross-ram Max Wedge intake with two Edelbrock 750 carbs. For free exhaust breathing, Paul added a set of tti 2-inch headers and a TTI 3-inch exhaust system.
With almost three years dedicated to the build, the completed car was almost in sight. Once Paul and Bob had the engine in the bay, Paul reinstalled all the shining body items, chrome, interior, dash, glass, and electrical to the body. Then he added a full set of American Racing wheels. The Mopars at the Strip event in Las Vegas, Nevada, provided added motivation to finish the few remaining details. After many late nights and weekend hours, the car was finished just days before the big event.
By the end of the Mopars at the Strip weekend, Paul had won First Place in the '62-'67 B-Body Restified class. With that trophy on his mantle, he has continued to drive his Sport Fury to lots of shows and weekend cruises. His Sport Fury also encored by winning First Place at the Spring Fling in Van Nuys, California. The Sport Fury delivers plenty of performance, too. The mammoth 505's huge torque levels deliver rapid full-throttle blasts.
Paul tells us the most rewarding part of his whole Sport Fury experience has been listening to the tremendous comments from folks who stop by to see the car. Yes, it took a maximum effort to build this car, but it has paid much bigger dividends in appreciation.
'64 Plymouth Sport Fury
Mopar Power Engine: Paul loves the power his 505 pumps out, especially when he recently smoked some disco driver in a Turbo Porsche. Starting with a '67 440 yanked from an old Imperial, he worked with local Mopar engine guru Bob Stagg to assemble a 500-inch RB engine with a 4.25-inch stroke Eagle crank, Eagle rods, .030-inch-over JE forged pistons, Comp cam, and Edelbrock RPM cylinder heads. The hydraulic cam specs out at .507/0.510-inch lift with 240/246 duration at .050-inch lift. Up top, the engine features Edelbrock aluminum RPM heads, a factory style cross-ram intake manifold, and two Edelbrock 750-cfm carburetors. A set of tti 2-inch thermal-coated headers show the exhaust gases the exit. Transmission: Dave Smith's Pro Trans in Lancaster, California, built a sturdy 727 TorqueFlite transmission and fitted it with a Hemi 11-inch 3,000 stall converter. The unit takes all the punishment that the 505 can deliver. Rearend: Paul installed a 3.91 Auburn center unit into a 2-inch narrowed '65 Plymouth 8 3/4-inch rearend. The driveshaft is from Inland Empire Driveline and is made from aluminum. Horsepower and Performance: Paul's only dyno outing was basically a quick effort just to break in the cam and motor. During that outing, the dyno brothers Greg and Pat Smith ran the motor up to just 5,000 rpm, and the 505-inch Mopar was climbing past 525 horses. But it's above 5,000 rpm where this mill really cranks it on.
Sure Grip Suspension: The front torsion bars are standard factory items, and the rear springs are new replacement items from Springs and Things. Monroe shocks are positioned at all four corners. Brakes: The standard single reservoir unit was replaced with a tandem setup. up front, Paul added a set of discs commandeered from a willing '73 Duster. The rear drums are factory 10-inch jobs. Wheels: American Racing Wheels measuring 15x5 at the bow and 15x8.5 at the stern. Rubber: Up front, the Sport Fury is supported with Uniroyal P205/75R15; at the rear, BF Goodrich Drag Radial P275/60R15 tires.
High Impact Body: An awesome hardtop with lots of detail and Max Wedge stuff. Paint: PPG black basecoat/clearcoat applied by a guy named Joe, who Paul can't find anymore. Interior: Trimmed by interior craftsman Paul Dunham at Classic Touch Auto Upholstery in Lancaster, California. Soft items supplied by Legendary Auto Interiors. Just Dashes (justdashes.com) in Van Nuys, California, recovered the dashpad. G Car Plastic Grille and Trim (gcartrim.com) renovated the chrome plastic instrument bezel, and Redline Gauge Works (redlinegaugeworks.com) restored the instruments.