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. My best buddy had a ’78 Sedan de Ville. Great smooth drive, only finding a parking space for an almost 6 meter long car here in the Netherlands is a nightmare. And so were/are the gas prices here, so he was using LPG.

    Two reasons why I voted Justy and secretely wanting that 360.

    1. I run a 67 CJ5 and a 78 MGB on modern fuel. Both are carbureted. There’s no real issue. I am not sure if the Jeep has had hardened valve seats installed over its life but it’s been working fine for several years.

  2. I’d take the Plymouth for sentimental value; Dad had a ’76 Plymouth Gran Fury station wagon. That 302 was a beast, he used to drag guys off the lights with it. Then one day the power steering failed and the repair costs were more than the trade-in value of the car, and it went for scrap.

  3. The Caddy is probably worth more than $2k for the engine alone, not to mention the interior fittings and seats. For a car to restore and drive though the Fury is a better choice. Having a lien in lieu of a title sounds scary, but there are plenty of states that will issue a title on a 51 year old car without too much hassle.

  4. I like the look of the Fury, especially the front end and paisley print. But if I’m going Land Yacht, I’m going with the King of the Land Yacht. This is something that I might cruise to get groceries in and put the whole damn store in the trunk. It’s something that you putter around in and not take it on the highway. It’s a car you show off. Cadillac may be considered an old folks car today, but classic Caddies still have some stroke.

    1. Sorry, the king of the Land Yacht isn’t this one. This is a DeVille, Cadillac’s “small” car.
      Oh yes, a car with a curb weight of over 4,700lbs and a length of 18.75ft is the small one. The true king of the land yachts is the Cadillac Fleetwood 75 non-limousine. Which in 1973, was roughly 21 feet long.

  5. As someone who has handled a Cadillac gigantic block? Plymouth Fury all day every day.

    Look, it’s bad enough the 472 has atrociously bad emissions gear that chokes it to death. You can delete the air pump, use modern cats, tune the carb, pass smog with ease, and have 400ft/lbs of torque on tap. But that won’t change that parts are hard to come by and it’s A LITERAL HALF TON OF WEIGHT.
    Oh yes, Virginia. Your engine hoist bent just LOOKING at that fucker. Because it’s 100% cast iron and with walls thick enough to support the 500ci casting. Fully dressed, I am absolutely NOT joking about it pushing a thousand pounds. These behemoths pushed 5000lbs curb as drop-tops.

    As for the assertion the Mod Top isn’t, because it’s a ’71? Nope; that’s a legit Mod Top. There’s two versions of the Mod Top that I’m familiar with – 1970 floral, and 1971 paisley. This is the correct paisley. And the fact that the interior is not only intact but appears to be in excellent condition is a huge deal. Replacing that upholstery is insanely expensive, because Mopar Tax. (It’s very fucking real.)
    If the landau’s got no holes, that alone will save you $8k on a frame-off job. Any holes in the landau, you’ve almost certainly got fatal roof rot, and these are unibody. The standard landeau’s easily $1k in parts, forget a Mod Top. And the roof is a NASTY job – full frame jig even if you’re just sectioning sheet. But it’s still a B-body with an LA and a TorqueFlite. If you can’t find a part, it’s because you didn’t look.

    1. I kinda hate to be the “WELL AXCHUALLY” guy, but the Caddy 472/500 motors are amazingly light, considering how heavy the cars were and how large their displacements were. I think ’68 was the first year for the 472, it replaced the old postwar 331/365/390 Cad V-8’s and used modern(for the time) casting and design techniques. I’m speaking from memory here, but a fully-dressed 472/500 is ~110lbs lighter than a big-block Chevy(most of it is in the heads) and going with headers and an aluminum intake on the Caddy motor brings its poundage down to about 600lbs, within spitting distance of an iron SBC.
      Back around Y2K I built a 472 for my shop beater ’82 GMC 3/4-ton pickup and it was a ton lighter than the 6.2 Detroit diesel that came with the truck. I had to cut a whole coil out of the front springs to bring the front end down to stock height, and those 6.2’s were pretty light for a diesel. It was a fun parts runner, used to shock people at the stoplight drags.

  6. If they were both in better shape, the Caddy for sure. But Caddies don’t come back to life all that easily.
    Mopars, on the other hand, were almost designed to be neglected. I’ll take the Fury.

  7. Full disclosure: I am a Mopar guy (some of you commenters may have seen my stuff enough to know).

    I understand the DeVille is iconic and if you’re buying engine by cubic inches per dollar, that’s the way to go. But man, I love the Fury. The lines, the interior, the tri-spoke tiller, that 360 V8. It speaks of an owner who says, “I’m responsible, but I like to have fun when I’m alone.” Every time I go to a car show, which admittedly isn’t too often, I’m usually drooling over the Fury and Gran Fury examples.

  8. In college, a good buddy owned a trashed Fury that had so much floor rust that you could see the road until he fitted pieces of plywood into the floor wells. But it drove like a tank and could haul approximately 427 people at once. With cheap gas at the time, it didn’t matter that you could see the fuel gauge dropping as we drove. It was awesome, and ended its life as a demolition derby champion. For that reason only, give me the Fury.

  9. Plymouth all the way for me. Not only am I more attracted to Plymouths than Caddys, the Cadillac sounds too sketchy for me.

    If he lacks the skills (or the ability to find someone with them) to install the engine, how great did the rebuild go? I’m very skeptical of situations like that.

    “Oh I spent huge money/time on a complicated process, just to give it away for cheap non-running because of some minor stuff left to do.”

  10. As much as I love Caddies, the Fury is the clear choice here. The Caddy has been screwed with by idiots who couldn’t finish the job. It also has rust holes through the outside of the body and broken taillights that will not be easy or cheap to replace.

    Plus, fuselage Mopars are dead sexy!

  11. 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.)

  12. 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.

  13. 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).

  14. 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.

  15. When I first clicked on the article I thought “Caddy no brainer!” but the Fury is dirty but straight, while the Caddy is rusty in scary places that doesn’t make me confident about its roadworthiness. Plus, that interior doesn’t look right at all… maybe some ill-advised re-skin of the seats? In any event, it is missing the charm I expect of a luxo-barge of that type.
    Fury all the way, love the paisley interior. Plus if that old 360 is past saving, the junkyards are brimming with Magnum 5.9 ram trucks just waiting to be heart donors. Or, if you’re in for a more ambitious project, a 5.7 Hemi would be a real treat in that thing, too…

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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!

  19. 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

  20. 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.

  21. Fury all the way. One of the very few 4-doors that I think look as good if not better than their two-door counterparts. Sleek with the hideaway headlamps, would take nicely to a set of Mopar Rallyes and white letter tires, and the 360 could be setup run like hell.

  22. Legitimately, I think the Mopar is the better deal, but I just have to vote for the Caddy. A gold with gold interior ’69 Sedan de Ville was my first Cadillac and I still have it. Well, I think I do – it’s in a barn near my hometown and I haven’t actually looked at the car in over 25 years. I heard the people who own the property are thinking of selling, so I really should look into getting it moved out of there soon.

    I bought that Caddy for $300 in high school, got it running and driving, started in on the body, and learned quickly what a pain Midwest rust really is to deal with. Still, the few times I actually got to take it out and drive it around were amazing – a giant barge that turned with ease; it’s “Dardanelle” interior swallowing up myself and 5 friends with ease; the 472 that propelled everything forward with ease. “Ease” was what that car was all about.

    Well, except for the aforementioned rust. It was all over, and I had it in my head that this was going to be a show car. So, clueless 17-year-old me started spending way to much time trying to shape and weld in new pieces of tin everywhere. That, along with carefully removing the various trim pieces and sanding the acres of sheet metal burned up quite a few hours of spare time. I wanted it to be black, so I started in with patching small rust holes in the door jambs and sanding every inch of those as well. I got quite a ways with it, and was really just fortunate enough to work for a guy that let me use his body shop afterhours. However, after six months of this Sisyphean ordeal, I found a much nicer ’68 Coupe de Ville that I ended up buying and the now chromeless, multi-colored-primer ’69 went into a friend’s barn.

    If I bought this one, it would be a great excuse to drag my first one out of that barn and set to finally finishing that project, building a nice one out of the two. Plus, who doesn’t want the excuse to have “69 Nice” as they’re personalized license plate?

  23. Two fantastic projects, both slightly after their best generation (’65-68, in each case, in my opinion) but still handsome.

    I only went for the Plymouth ’cause my Bubbe would’ve preferred to ride in it versus being seen in a Cadillac. No wrong choice today.

  24. 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.

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