Black-trimmed grille and starship exhaust wheel covers were ’62 Sport Fury exclusives. Wid
What’s a phantom? One definition is a car that could have been built way back when, with a combination of factory features and period-correct items that makes you say, They should’ve built it.
Then there’s Garrett Hicks’ ’62 Plymouth Sport Fury convertible, the second version of a factory-built phantom he had way back when.
Garrett was one of Chrysler’s engineers in their defense and aerospace operations, which took him to Cape Canaveral as well as to the Marshall Space Center in Huntsville, Alabama. That’s where the first manned-spacecraft launch vehicles were built, a place where those who worked there knew about going fast.
Cool enough for you? AC outlet atop dash was only found in about 5 percent of all ’62 Plym
He had friends inside Chrysler’s automotive works, including some at what had been the Plymouth Main plant. I was able to talk to my friends at Lynch Road, and they stuck a 413 with one four-barrel in it, says Garrett of the Luminous Blue ’62 Sport Fury convertible that he ordered new that spring. That was not an advertised car, but they did build some. I managed to convince them to install it, because that engine was available and it fit.
So, instead of the 30hp, four-barrel-equipped 361 that was Plymouth’s top regular-production powerplant, Garrett’s Sport Fury got a 413 from the big Chrysler lineup, routed by friends of Garrett’s friends from the Mound Road Engine Plant to Lynch Road Assembly, instead of Jefferson Assembly, where Ma Mopar’s biggest carsincluding the 413-powered Chrysler 300H, New Yorker, and Imperialwere built.
This special-build B-Body was part of a short production runjust 1,516 ’62 Sport Fury drop-tops were made in the half-year they were available after their January 1962 introduction. Back atop the Plymouth lineup for the first time since 1959, Sport Furys also came in two-door hardtop form, and all had special black-trimmed grilles, six rear lights (four taillights flanking two backup lights), bucket seats, center consoles, full-foam rear seats, distinctive Sport Fury nameplates and trim pieces, and futuristic-looking starship exhaust wheel covers.
But Garrett didn’t have his Sport Fury built his way just for daily transportation. I raced at La Place (Dragway), outside New Orleans, he says of his weekend exploits, at the time when he worked during the week at Ma Mopar’s rocket works at Michaud, Louisiana, near the Crescent City.
Look at Plymouth now! Sport Fury’s cabin was top-of-the-line for ’62, with buckets and con
Fast forward to the 21st Century. Garrett, now retired from Chryslerafter a career that included his rise to Engineering Manager at Chrysler’s Huntsville, Alabama, electronics plantwas looking for a project car to build. His son came across an interesting find under a carport in Chattanooga, Tennessee: another Luminous Blue ’62 Sport Fury convertible. I went up and looked at it, says Garrett, and dragged it home.
Before hauling his find home, he found out that this first-year B-Body needed a lot of work before it would move under its own power. My son was given the job of steering it down out of the carport, around a curve, and down the driveway, Garrett recalls. When he got in, the left front seat went right through the floor to the ground.
Also gone, along with the ’62’s structural integrity, was its original engine. The original 361 was gone when I bought the car, says Garrett. The guy said that he had it, but when he went to look for it, it had been junked. No matter, Garrett had other ideas for this Sport Fury, which turned out to be an ultra-rare, factory-air car. Only about 5 percent of all ’62 Plymouths had that $375 option.
Once home, he searched for the parts needed to make his ’62 whole again. We found a complete front-to-back floorpan from a donor car in Arizona, Garrett says. We took my little plasma torch out there, cut it out, and had it shipped to Chattanooga, then we brought it home with the rest of the car and we welded it in. Fortunately, it needed no other metal surgery. The doors and the quarter-panels were in great shape when we got it, and there was no Bondo in it, he adds.
That 361 sticker fooled you, didn’t it? That’s a ’62-vintage 413 underneath it, with ’71-v
The Carriage Works in Huntsville was where Garrett’s ’62’s unibody was restored by a team that included shop owner Tom Snitger, Gary English, Mike Lowery, and Garrett himself. Snitger also sprayed on the Luminous Blue color, in basecoat/clearcoat form.
Under the hood went a period-correct 413 that Garrett had built by David Ross at R&R Speed and Machine in Huntsville to replicate the one in his first ’62. Sharp-eyed B/RB fans will notice later-year exhaust manifolds on it, instead of correct 1962 pieces. Garrett says they’re on there for a reason. The ’62s had a bad habit of cracking and breaking across the top. I found these on a ’71, and they each have a ridge across the top to keep them from cracking. Backing the 413 is the restored 727 TorqueFlite (inside its new-for-’62 aluminum case) and the restored original 8-inch rear end.
Two-tone steering wheel was a Sport Fury exclusive, while dash pushbuttons came with every
In all, the restoration and phantomization of this drop-top took five years. The interior took a long, long time, recalls Garrett, getting all the chrome done on the inside and getting good stuff to put in it. That’s especially true of the long-out-of-production pieces not only unique to all ’62 Plymouths, but to all ’62 Sport Furys (and factory-air-equipped Sport Furys, at that).
What’s it like to drive? Just ask this former rocket engineer. It drives like my old one, he says. We don’t take it to the grocery store, but my wife and I take it to church, we take it visiting, and everyplace else we go. My son lives up in North Georgia, and we drive it over there fairly often. He adds that it’s also been seen on the show scene, too.
We took it to Kentucky, to a Concours show, and we took third place with it. We were competing against old Chrysler Town & Country woodies. I was very pleased with that.
If you’re looking to restore an early (’62-’65) B-Body Plymouth or Dodge, take Garrett’s advice: Be really patient, because, with the ’62s especially, there’s just enough different sheetmetal. If I had needed any sheetmetal, I would have had an awful time finding it’62 and ’63 were pretty close, but after then they were all different. The floorpan stayed the same though ’65, and anything having to do with the instrument panels was unique. mm
The doors and the quarter-panels were in great shape when we got it, and there was no Bondo in it.Garrett Hicks
Rear view shows distinctive '62 Sport Fury taillights and trim, atop original quarters and
1962 Plymouth Sport Fury convertible
Owned by: Garrett Hicks, Harvest, Alabama
- Engine: Looks like a stock 361, but it isn't. Garrett had R and R Speed and Machine in Huntsville, AL build a year-correct 413-inch RB, to '62 specifications.
- Transmission: The OEM 727 TorqueFlite, restored down to its dash-mounted pushbutton shift.
- Rearend: Per Garrett, it's the same one that it left Lynch Road Assembly with, and restored like the 727 was.
- Suspension: (Front) Restored original-- longitudinal torsion bars and tubular shocks with an anti-sway bar. (Rear) Restored original--leaf springs with tubular shocks
- Brakes: Restored original--non-power-assisted drum-and shoe brakes all around.
- Wheels and Tires: OEM 14-inch steel wheels wear Coker Classic wide-band whitewalls and the new-for-'62 factory "starship exhaust" Sport Fury covers
- Body: Original '62 Plymouth B-Body convertible unibody was restored by The Carriage Works in Huntsville, AL, and features a floor pan from a donor early B-Body, and original quarters and doors . Also restored: The original Sport Fury grille and trim pieces.
- Paint: The original hue, metallic Luminous Blue, in "Diamonte" base/clearcoat form, applied by Tim Snitger at The Carriage Works, Huntsville, Alabama.
- Interior: Restored stock interior features the original console, AM radio, gauge cluster, bucket seats and factory A/C outlets. Restoration and upholstery work by Rich Cunningham, Kelso, Tennessee.