Land Yachts Set Sail! 1971 Plymouth Fury vs 1969 Cadillac DeVille

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Ahoy there, Autopians! Today on Shitbox Showdown, we’re going to the opposite end of the car size scale, and looking at a couple of good old fashioned American barges. Big V8s, long bench seats, and marshmallows for springs are the order of the day. But first, let’s take a look at the final tally of our tiny Subies:

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Yep. I say again: Tiny. Rally. Car. The 360 is best left as a museum piece at this point, or hacked up into something even weirder.

Either of yesterday’s choices could nearly fit into the trunks of today’s. These cars are the reason the little Subaru 360 felt so tiny and fragile on American roads. I bet the engine and transmission of either of these alone weigh about as much as that little Subaru. They’re inefficient, cumbersome, a pain in the ass to park, and lumber around corners like a moose on rollerblades, but for gobbling up miles of Interstate in smooth serenity, there’s nothing quite like them. Let’s dive in.

1971 Plymouth Fury Gran Coupe – $1,595

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Engine/drivetrain: 360 cubic inch V8, 3 speed automatic, RWD

Location: outside St Helens, OR

Odometer reading: unknown

Runs/drives? not quite

“Plymouth Fury” might be one of the greatest car names of all time. It’s also, in most cases, a misnomer: the Fury is quite a nice, civilized car. (Well, except that one.) Plymouth’s full-sized sedan grew over the course of the 1960s into this 120-inch-wheelbase monster. And yes, all the info I found says that this particular model of the 1971 Fury was called the “Gran Coupe,” even when it had four doors. (And the Germans thought they were doing something new.)

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The seller might be wrong about one thing, though: they claim this car has the “Mod Top” package, but it appears that option was only offered in 1969 and 1970, and never on the Fury.  But this car’s paisley-print vinyl top and seats were from the factory, as part of the Gran Coupe package, as was the then-new 360 cubic inch V8.

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The engine doesn’t run, but it sounds like it may be due to just sitting for a while. Old V8s like this aren’t complicated; if you’ve got fuel, spark, and compression, you should be able to get it started without much trouble. The rest of the car looks OK, give or take a little rust; mostly it’s just dirty. And that paisley interior is undeniably cool.

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It’s not the cool slab-sided stacked-headlight ’66 that’s my personal favorite Plymouth Fury, but it’s still a nice car. Or it was once, and maybe could be again.

1969 Cadillac Sedan DeVille – $1,995

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Engine/drivetrain: 472 cubic inch V8, 3 speed automatic, RWD

Location: Torrance, CA

Odometer reading: 40,000 miles

Runs/drives? Nope

Plymouth Fury not big enough for you? Well, feast your eyes on this beauty. Eighteen feet and nine inches of American steel, with big chrome bumpers stretching from sea to shining sea. Utterly unmistakable for anything but a Cadillac. Seven point seven liters under that massive hood, and barely a smog control device in sight. Meet the 1969 Cadillac Sedan DeVille.

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This particular DeVille needs a little help. The seller says it has a rebuilt engine that needs to be hooked up, but they don’t have the ability to finish it. If that massive hunk of cast iron is already between the frame rails, connecting everything up and getting it running should be an easy task for an accomplished do-it-yourselfer.

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This Caddy looks a little rough outside, with a bit of rust around the edges, but inside it’s quite nice. But with only 40,000 miles on the clock, it should be. And personally, I kinda like the scruffy look on the outside; it looks like something a second-rate private eye in an Elmore Leonard novel should be driving. It’s got character.

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OK, sure, it probably gets eight miles to the gallon, which isn’t ideal these days. But where else are you going to find such a massive quantity of faded glory for so cheap?

It’s strange to think that these behemoths used to be normal-sized cars, because they were followed by twenty years of downsizing. But everything old is new again: A new Chevy Silverado crew cab is an inch and a half wider than this Cadillac, and sixteen inches longer. But I bet I know which one rides smoother.

So what’ll it be: a paisley Plymouth, or a hardtop Caddy?

Quiz Maker

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59 Responses

  1. As a very happy long term Cadillac owner (currently CT6 twin turbo 3 litre) with a few more before it, I couldn’t possibly vote for anything else.
    As to the rust on both vehicles, I would remind you all that a rusty unibody is scary. A rusty body on frame is repairable. If I weren’t past my restoration days (in both senses), I would be considering this old tank!

  2. I like them both and if you buying this, MPG should not be your concern.

    The Fury won out due to not seeing as many on the road while not running, appears to be hooked up.

    I could see getting this running, cleaned up, and look at what you have to work with. I am thinking mild updates to make it bit more comfortable but not a slammed to the ground mess.

  3. The overwrought and decadent-in-a-bad-way Caddy is 100% not for me even if it were concours and gas was under $1.

    The Fury is also not a car that would give me any pleasure to own, but the paisley is undeniably hot.

    On the one hand, I lament design convergence and boringness and focus groupdom. On the other hand, I often don’t like factory character packages and am too much of a cheapass to pony up for most aesthetic flourishes anyway. I do recognize the irony. However, in this case, I think the paisley works so well that the Fury earned my vote even though Justy is the correct answer.

  4. Fury all the way. I’m biased, having been raised in a Mopar family, from riding in the “wayback” of Granddad’s ’74 Fury Wagon as a kid, to the ’88 LeBaron coupe that gave me my first experience behind the wheel, to the ’67 Newport Custom my dad currently cruises around in during the summer, and countless examples in between.

    The fuselage-style C-bodies of the early ’70s are some of the most distinctive large sedans ever built. They have a presence. The paisley top, while not officially a “Mod Top”, is still icing on the cake.

    The term “Mod Top” refers to the floral pattern tops offered in 1969 on Plymouth Satellites and Barracudas, and on a handful of ‘Cudas in 1970. A similar roof pattern was offered for ’69 on Dodge Darts, Coronets and Super Bees, but Dodge called it “Floral Top”, and the production numbers were tiny, with less than 200 Dodge cars sold with the Floral Top according to The Mod Top & Floral Top Registry.

  5. I know it’s probably a money pit, but the allure of having a Cadillac from a time when that brand actually meant something is too much temptation to ignore. The Plymouth is a decent pick, but compared to a Cadillac? Yes, I know the gas mileage is god awful, but it’s a pre-smog Cadillac, so I give it a pass.

  6. Fuselage Chrysler is easily cooler than a late 60’s Cadillac, that paisley interior looks so much more comfortable than a flat, wide, featureless bench (that’s probably hotter than a Phoenix sidewalk in the middle of summer), and I’m assuming swapping in the fuel injected 360 out of a rusted out Ram wouldn’t be that tricky if you wanted to pick up a few MPG’s (to say nothing of the 5.7 Hemi that apparently is compatible with a bunch of Chrysler’s old bellhousings).

  7. I was all team Caddy until I looked a little closer. I think the shiny paint is hiding a world of sins. Mopar or Nocar.

    PS. Poll function, not good, no way out, won’t close unless I close the window completely

  8. In a contest like this, I have to go with the larger, more absurdly-over-the-top of the two or why bother? Caddy it is. (Plus, my first car was a hand-me-down ’62 DeVille from my grandpa, so I’m biased.)

  9. This is a fantastic article to follow up the earlier one about why old trucks are cool and old cars drool.

    No, scruffy old cars like these ones have character, and are cool. Shitty plastic bricks like early 90’s Tauruses drool, because they drooled when new. I think it comes down to metal vs plastic, and how they age in a dramatically different fashion.

  10. The Fury, for sure.

    If I’m driving an old Caddy, I want a more iconic Caddy. Or one in top shape. This one is going to look old and tired for a very, very long time, yet is still instantly recognizable as a Cadillac. Therefore it looks like a huge compromise until it’s put in order.

    The Fury, on the other hand, is far less known. Driving a large, menacing old car is a lot more of a statement if knowledgeable people looking at it have to take a moment or two to figure out what it is. And even better, the rest will wonder “what the hell is that old beast?”

    In addition to the advantages of the far more common parts and easier servicing, the Fury is much more complete. All the little garnishes on that Cadillac are not cheap and easy to find.

    Plus the Fury has that incredible paisley. I love the paisley and wish risky patterns like that were factory options today, because well done custom shop stuff is super expensive.

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