Thanks to a major restyling, better build quality, and the fact that Plymouth cars were now backed by a new 5-year/50,000-mile powertrain warranty, they were able to shed a bad reputation that haunted them since 1957. Exner's stylists smoothed out the B-Body's "plucked chicken" lines, turning it into a stylish ride that saw its sales jump by over 140,000, putting it back into fifth place in the U.S. new-car sales race.
Speaking of races, 1963 also saw Plymouths crossing the finish line in first place on the ovals and on quarter-mile racetracks around the country. Richard Petty scored 13 of his 14 NASCAR Grand National wins that season in a '63 Plymouth-mostly on the short tracks that made up the bulk of the GN circuit at the time. Meanwhile, Max Wedge-powered '63s were lighting the win lights on dragstrips from coast to coast, in Stock and Super Stock class competition, as well as in match races that put fans in the stands on the weekends-and in the dealers' showrooms the following week.
The Sport Fury was the top of Plymouth's '63 line, with its standard bucket seats, V-8 power, and distinctive trim inside and out. For many a Plymouth lover then, it was the sweetest thing to come out of ChryCo's assembly plants since the first "Forward Look" '55s.
Then there's a '63 Sport Fury that sets a new standard for sweetness: This one-"Candie." That's the name that Michelle Browning gave her customized '63 Sport Fury. As with many Mopar projects, this one didn't happen overnight. Found in Denver, this Sport Fury was a "back burner" project for over a decade, while Michelle and her husband, Mike, showed and raced a '68 Charger. Mike also had a shop where he worked on customers' cars and motorcycles, but once this project got underway, he closed that to devote his time to his wife's '63.
Mike says the years weren't kind to the Sport Fury's body before they got a hold of it. "The quarter-panels were pretty much gone," he says from his home in Greeley, Colorado. "Someone had tried cutting an inner wheelwell out of it, and it sat for about 15 years, so rust started eating everything away."
Once they decided to build the '63, Mike had to do more than just a parts-catalog search for replacement steel. "I had to 'borrow' the wheelwells out of a '65 Coronet and make them fit," he recalls. "That's because they don't make many reproduction parts for '63s."
Mike Browning's customizing...
Mike Browning's customizing skills created the scoop and "bullnosed" the hood. Other than the wheels, all the brightwork you see is correct-for-'63.
Another challenge: Smoothing out the body once the new metal was on, as they decided to leave off the Sport Fury's side-body trim pieces and fill the holes where their attaching hardware had gone in. "I think there were about 170 holes that I had to weld up, and then grind smooth," he says of the work needed. "A little bit of filler/primer finished it up."
Smoothing was the order of the day(s) when it came to the rest of the body. "I [also] filled the cowl vents in front of the windshield, and I had to 'bullnose' the front end," Mike says. "That's because the '63 Plymouth has a peak in the front of the hood, where the hood trim went. I had to cut that out and smooth it over." Atop that hood went a hand-fabricated hoodscoop-the only addition made to the Sport Fury's body, while the stock grille, parking lights, window trim, and taillights (with their "gunsight" bezels) were retained. So were the bumpers, but the rear one is recessed two inches into the body.
Inside the engine bay, the firewall got smoothed out before the power went in. Mike describes what replaced the aged OEM engine: "It's a 440 that's bored .030-inch over with 12:1 TRW pistons and a Lunati VooDoo camshaft. Finishing it off are iron heads, an aluminum radiator, a Team G intake, and an 850 Holley."
The engine looks right at...
The engine looks right at home, doesn't it? Mike smoothed out the firewall before the .030-inch 440 and aluminum radiator went in.
A cut-down Sport Fury wheel,...
A cut-down Sport Fury wheel, dash with custom gauge cluster and console (that sports a pod with the 727's push-button controls) are more of Mike Browning's handiworks.