In 1986, 18-year-old Darren Smith took his stepfather to a used car lot in Cortland, New York. There it was-a black '65 Plymouth Sport Fury that Darren hoped would be his future ride. "It was very rough," says Barry Latta, Darren's stepfather. "The trunk floor and rear quarters were rotted out, although being a black car covered it up some. But it had a wicked set of pipes."
That was all Darren needed to know. He bought the car. "The loud [exhaust] was what he liked," his mother, Marilyn Latta, says. "That was what attracted him to it."
The wiring on Darren's Sport Fury was just one of its many problems. After about six months of service, it got so bad Barry told Darren he shouldn't drive the car anymore until it was fixed. "Darren wasn't too mechanically inclined," Marilyn says. "So, rather than fix the car, he parked it out behind the shop and bought a truck."
The Lattas own an automatic-door business in Homer, New York, where the Fury remained a fixture on the grounds for the better part of five years, being moved every so often to someplace where it wouldn't be under foot. All the while, Barry kept saying, "I've gotta restore it."
Finally, in 1990, all the somedays turned into today, and the Sport Fury's restoration process began. The bodywork, which was extensive, was handed to Tim Grevelding at Matt McGill Collision in Brewerton, New York. But before that could begin, Barry had to hunt down a new rear clip because the original was beyond repair. He found a rust-free specimen at Desert Valley Auto Parts in Arizona. Then, he tore the body down to a shell. "Every piece that could come off the car came off," Barry says. "I couldn't have removed anything else without a torch."
Dave Williams did the paintwork, converting the Sport Fury from a black car to a red one. While the bodywork was being done, Barry went after N.O.S. pieces. Molding, taillights, grille, headlight buckets-all N.O.S. finds. Barry says this was the most difficult aspect of the restoration. "It's not too hard to find B- and E-Body parts, but the C-Body is kind of unusual," he says.
Finding them wasn't the only challenge. "I wasn't really happy with the condition of the grille," Barry adds. "They were anodized, not chrome, so I had it re-anodized. Also, I found one of the taillights at one place for $89.95, then found three more someplace else for $13.95. So, I bought all three and bartered two of them."
Ray Barton's Racing Engines cooked up the powerplant from the stock 413ci block. The recipe: stock rods; .030 overbore; 10.3:1-compression JE pistons; ported Indy SR heads; Comp Cams springs; Crane aluminum roller rockers; Holley 750hp carb; Mopar single-plane, high-rise intake; an RB special-grind cam; Comp hydraulic lifters; and a Mopar electronic ignition to fire the whole thing off. The exhaust system is still wicked, with 3-inch pipes all the way from the Mopar 440hp manifolds through the Flowmaster mufflers. The hood was modified with a hoodscoop to accommodate the high-rise manifold.