’60 Fury hardtop wagon hits the Power Tour with a hot 500-inch stroker and cool tricks.
By Al Dente Photos by TheBruntBros
I-44 Restorations in Cuba, MO doesn’t have a lot of customers. In fact, it has only one. But that doesn’t bother the owner, Gary Killeen, very much, as he also happens to be the shop’s sole customer. Gary doesn’t have to worry about things getting done on schedule, and if he’s getting overcharged and such. Because he’d only end up yelling at and suing himself.
For the past 10 years, I-44 has cranked out one car per year—a ride built specifically for the Hot Rod Power Tour. Tour fans always look forward to see what Gary will show up in, so the pressure is on for Gary to come up with something cool. This year, Gary was perusing the rides being offered on eBay, to see what was cool. EBay would make life easier for all of us if they had a “Slimeball Sellers” section, to separate the slimeball sellers from the honest folks like you and me. Since they don’t, Gary had no way of knowing that the ad he saw for a 1960 Fury hardtop station wagon, described as “a very rare car out of a private estate,” was a total fabrication. In a like fabrication, the car’s condition was stated as “excellent.”
While the ’60 Fury hardtop wagon wouldn’t be considered “rare” from a value standpoint, there weren’t many made. In fact none were produced in the U.S; all were Canadian models. One popular theory on this was that Chrysler was test-marketing the model north of the border to gauge public reaction. They figured if they could get those frugal Canuks to part with their hard-earned Loonies, anyone would buy it. If the theory is true, then the model proved to be a success, as a 4-door hardtop Fury wagon rolled into U.S. Chrysler-Plymouth showrooms in 1961.
As far as the wagon coming out of a private estate, that’s also horse feathers. The original owners in Canada sold it to an auction company a couple of years ago. The auction folks took it to LA and sold it to a guy in Texas. He was the slimeball who posted it on eBay. We’d like to give you his name, but our lawyers have enough to do already. Considering the ‘60’s limited production, and that the vast majority of those probably were eaten alive by rust, survivors are few and far between. Gary carted his “prize” home last July. The Plymouth looked pretty decent when he had picked it up, but the Fury turned into a horror story once he got into it. The wagon’s bottom had been sprayed with some sort of undercoating—a cross between motor oil and road tar. Not to protect against rust, but to cover it up. To remove the stuff, Gary tried lacquer thinner. No dice. The only thing that worked was gasoline—35 gallons of it. Had he known what he was in for with the rest of the wagon, Gary might have considered using those 35 gallons to torch the dang thing.
Then again, Gary might not have been well received showing up at the Power Tour in a cinder. Not knowing what other surprises the car had in store for him, Gary and Darron Milsap spent every day for 3 weeks just scrubbing off the undercoating. When they finished, they saw the floorpans were so shot, that Ken Donal, one of the three workers Gary had hired to restore the wagon, had to fab new ones from 4×8-foot sheets of sheetmetal. Gary said Ken’s work was phenomenal, down to recreating the ribs just like the originals.
The rotted floor turned out to be just the tip of the nightmare iceberg. The doors and fenders were so packed with Bondo that it took a full five days just to grind it all out. Seems the previous “restorers” had just cut out rotted sections, laid sheetmetal over the holes, brazed them on and Bondo’d over the overlaps. It was the same deal for the headlight buckets. Ken came through by fabbing them from scratch. Talented kid.
From the photos, you’d think this Fury was a 2-door. No, it’s not an optical illusion or a Photoshop job. The front door handles were really shot as they were used a lot more than the rear door handles. Since the rear handles were in decent shape, Gary moved them to the front doors, and used electric poppers for the rears. It also keeps out undesirables from climbing into the rear seats without having to manually lock the doors.
When Gary pulled the dash he found that the original owner’s son, Brent, had done the same thing when he did a quickie resto job back in the ‘70s. Written on the back of the dash was a note that said “Dear old dad bought this car in 1960 and passed away in 1961 and mom kept it.” The dash was signed by various family members. Most likely, the original owner sent pictures of his wagon to Mopar Action’s Mopar or Nocar, and died (as most of the owners who send us photos do) waiting for them to get published. Anyhow, Gary tracked down the family members in Manitoba on the Internet, called and left messages in the hope of learning more about the car’s history. No one ever called back. He couldn’t find any info on the wagon’s subsequent owners, either.
The wagon came from the factory with a dearth of options—just a 383/pushbutton auto and power steering. Not even a radio. Gary said he “just threw away all that stuff.” The stock mill was heaved in favor of a 440 stroked to 500 cubes that Gary had lying around. The 9-to-1 motor is built with an MP block containing Eagle crank, rods and pistons, Edelbrock aluminum heads support an Edelbrock/Holley six-pack intake. The mill dyno’d 450 hp and 530 lbs-ft. tq on 87 octane.
Hooking up a 727 to the cable-shift pushbuttons was something that many, including Imperial Services, said couldn’t be done. But Gary did it. But there’s a catch, the buttons don’t correspond with the gears. There’s no button for Park, so R=Park. N=Neutral, D=Reverse, 2 doesn’t do anything, and 1=Drive. Works like a charm. Needless to say, Gary doesn’t go with valet parking at hi-zoot restaurants.
Four-wheel discs from The Right Stuff complement the added oomph, but there was no room for a power booster, not even a 7-inch one, so Gary gets his quota of isometric exercise when hauling down his wagon as it’s hauling him.
Completed in May 2010, Gary has piled up some 5500 miles driving to various events. And this sharp-looking Inferno red wagon should have no trouble keeping him at the head of the pack on the Power Tour.