<1970 Fury 440 Convertible Restoration - Git-R-Done
The Beast

In September 1969 we looked over the new Mopars for 1970 and fell in love with the Sport Fury GT and it's sister, the Sport Fury S-23. We really liked the hide-away headlights and the overall look of these cars, but you could not get them as convertibles. So we looked at the Fury III and decided to build a custom GT convertible. Couldn't do much about the head lights but we had lots of room to play with the power train. A basic Fury III came with a 318 and could be upgraded to a 383, 440 or Hemi. A 440 engine was an $440 option while a 426 Hemi was an extra $865, but the Hemi warranty was only 12 months or 12,000 miles.

It's curious the way Chrysler configured cars in those days, Sport Fury's were limited to hard-top and any engine except the Hemi, the Fury III was the only convertible but could have any engine except the 440 HP and the 440 6-pack. If the Sports Fury had been available as a convertible, I would have bought the 440 6-pack since it had the full warranty. In the end I decided the warranty on the Hemi was too iffy so we opted for the 440. After a lot of discussion we struck a deal on September 25th and ordered the "Beast". We paid $6,060 and managed to get $3,160 trade-in on the 1968, a better deal, but I still had a lot to learn about price negotiating with a car dealer.

As Ordered: Purchase Order

Fury III
440 4bbl 350 Hp
3-speed automatic
Power disc brakes
Power steering
Power windows
Positraction 3.23:1
Bucket seats and console
Clock
AM radio
Rear seat speaker
Antenna to be mounted on right rear fender
Ignition key light with time delay
Tachometer
Road Wheels (6" JJ 15")
H70x15 Poly-glass dual white wall tires
Hood mounted turn signals
Driver side remote control mirror
2 spare 6" JJ 15" rims for snow tires
Black and charcoal interior
Black roof with glass rear window

Delivery Day

On November 7th, 1969 I took delivery. The Beast was a joy to drive, the power was awesome and the heavy-duty suspension combined with the low centre of gravity literally glued the car to the road.

Before it was delivered, the car was sent to Ziebart for the full protection package ($109). Ziebart was pretty new then and the Kingston dealer was still learning the process. They drilled literally hundreds of holes in the car and sprayed in a tar like undercoat compound. Little yellow snap-in plastic covers were used to close all the holes to finish the job. Every enclosed part of the frame and body were completely protected. They used so much undercoat compound that the car dripped for nearly 5 years. Thirty years later the areas covered with Ziebart were still like new - amazing stuff. I'd be surprised to get this level of protection today - it seems shrinking profit margins and craftmanship don't mix.

The factory deleted the tachometer and said the radio antenna mounting had to be on the right front fender. The ignition key light wasn't as expected, it was supposed to be a little light beside the key which would stay on for a few seconds after the door is closed. Instead the factory put the time delay on the console lights making it easy to see your feet but didn't help much to find the ignition key. Much later I discovered the console was not Fury but one for a '70 Chrysler Hurst. This was a hidden bonus as I think the Chrysler console is much nicer than the standard Fury model. I probably should have moaned, groaned and insisted on a price adjustment but I was so pleased with the car I really didn't care.

Unfortunately winter arrived so we didn't get to drive it much until the summer of 1970.

King of the Road

In the summer of '71, after I graduated, we decided to drive down the east coast to Cape Haterus for a short vacation. I felt like king of the road with my 440. We pulled into a small town gas station in Tennessee or West Virginia (I forget which) and as ALWAYS when getting gas, I opened the hood to check my oil and allow everyone in sight to eat their hearts out. A state trooper pulled in for gas, his ride was a real ugly green Fury I four-door sedan complete with light bar and about three of those 8' whip antenna's such as police used in those days. The trooper wandered over and looked at my engine, didn't say anything, he just wandered back to his cruiser, lifted its hood and gave me the "come over here" look. He had a 440 6 pack. He never said a word; he closed his hood, drove back out on the highway and left what looked like half a mile of rubber. Thus my rein as King of the Road came to an abrupt end.

Love that Mopar Warranty

During the trip home the engine started to produce puffs of blue smoke and developed what sounded like a rod bearing rattle. I expected my dealer would give me all sorts of flack and accuse me of abusing the engine. To my surprise they told me I should be "driving it harder", seems I babied it too much. So at 22,686 miles they replaced pistons # 1, 5 and 7, rings, valve seals, oil pump and rod bearings. Their story centred around the rings being some special extra hard steel that weren't breaking in properly. Looking back on it, I suspect the real problem was an oil pump failure and the dealer shifted the blame to avoid any chance of me badmouthing them to fellow students around the University. Since all the work was covered by the 5 year/50,000 mile warranty, I didn't ask too many questions.

Driving it Harder

Later in the summer of 1971 we moved to Mississauga, what used to be a small town west of Toronto. The Beast made many memorable trips down 401 highway to Kingston and then up to Ottawa. I recall one trip from Ottawa to Mississauga, it was after midnight and I was "driving harder", in fact I cut nearly and hour off the normal 4 hour trip. At Toronto on the Gardener Expressway I slowed to the 60 mph speed limit and within minutes I was pulled over and handed a, 10 over the limit, $30 ticket. Seems over the weekend they lowered the speed limit to 50 mph. I thought it was pretty funny and was tempted to tell the officer I was 3 hours out of Ottawa - probably not a good plan.

In September 1974 we moved to Calgary, Susan and Laurie, our brand new daughter, flew to Calgary while I drove the Beast loaded with plants, the dog and a trunk filled with who knows what. After the Beast was loaded, the nose stuck up in the air so I had some rear air shocks installed and pumped them up to get my headlights back on the road. It took about 26 hours to drive the 1,978 miles (3183 km) at an average speed of 76 mph (122 km/hr). Looking at my gas logs, the 440 burned 125 gallons of gas, averaged 15.8 mpg, for a trip fuel cost of $84.85. (or using US gallons, that is 150 gallons at 13.8 mpg). Using today's prices, in Canada of $3.04/gal (0.669/litre), the cost would now be about $380, quite a difference.

In those days the police were few and far between on the highways and they didn't have air patrols or radar. Try those speeds today and the law will be on you like "white on rice", driving was a lot more fun then.

Captain Crunch Towing Service

In 1975 after a complete tune-up and carburettor rebuild, Susan was driving the car when it quit in the middle of the road and refused to start. I called the garage and told them to pick the car up and to get it fixed right this time. Well the tow truck driver raised the car from the rear and neglected to strap the steering wheel. You got it - his first left turn took out the passenger door on a power pole. His insurance covered the repairs, but I, like a dummy, used the bodyshop he suggested. Please gentle reader, never use a bodyshop as suggested by the dude paying the bill. They didn't "fix" anything beyond put a skin on the door, crimped instead of spot welded so the skin moved around and the door was left with a slight banana shape.

Constable Crunch

January 1976 Susan had just parked the car at a shopping mall, it was very cold and the parking lot was covered with polished ice. She happened to be downhill from a police cruiser which had stopped by the curb, then slowly slid sideways across the icy parking lot and crunched the driver side quarter panel on the Beast. The circumstances were a bit comical, the accident was around about Jan 10th and Susan delivered our son Mark on Jan 15th. You can imagine the reaction of the police when they saw her condition, a supervisor arrived with lights flashing and the paperwork was done in record time. Guess they weren't into parking lot childbirth. The City of Calgary paid to have the quarter panel repaired, another crappie repair job even though they had to spring for a complete paint job to match the colour. This time I selected the bodyshop, but quickly discovered - finding a good body shop is a lot easier said than done. In 1978 I got a company car and I bought a 1978 International Scout 4x4 for hunting and fishing. Since we now had three vehicles and only two drivers, the Beast was parked in the back yard.

Bondo Man

In 1980, my secretary was engaged to a fellow from Jamaica who considered himself to be the worlds greatest body man, I foolishly let him start working on the Beast. After a month or so I paid him a visit, he was surface welding sheet metal right over the rust and he was doing it with coat hanger wire. Parts he had finished were buried under almost a half-inch of bondo. After much yelling and cursing the Beast was back in my backyard minus all the side chrome and the rear valance. All the trim had also mysteriously disappeared.

Out to Pasture

I couldn't bear to part with it and I couldn't afford to restore it, so it sat. After two crappie repair jobs I was also afraid to trust it with anyone I didn't know. By now I was convinced the only way to restore the Beast is to try to do it myself. Unfortunately the project turned into a "round to it" task that never seemed to get even close to the top of the list.


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