The Plymouth Gran Fury is an automobile manufactured by the Chrysler Corporation to signify Plymouth's largest full-size automobile from 1975 to 1977. The nameplate would be used on successive downsizings, first in 1980, and again in 1982, through what would originally have been intermediate and compact classes in the early 1970s, all with conventional rear-wheel drive layouts. By the time the Plymouth Gran Fury ended production in 1989, it was Plymouth's last remaining rear-wheel drive car, a configuration used since Plymouth's first car was introduced in 1928. It was also Plymouth's last remaining V8 equipped vehicle. Plymouth would not have another rear-wheel drive car until the 1997 Prowler roadster. After Chevrolet ended production of the Caprice, only Ford continued production of its V8 powered rear-wheel drive Crown Victoria full-sized sedan. By the 2000s, the Plymouth nameplate had been retired, but Chrysler's Mercedes-based Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger re-introduced full-sized V8 powered rear-wheel drive sedans.
Before 1975, the top line models in Plymouth's Fury series were known as the "Fury Gran Coupe" and "Fury Gran Sedan". The Fury Gran Coupe model was introduced in 1970 as a highly trimmed pillared coupe. It moved to the two-door hardtop body for 1971, when a "Fury Gran Coupe" hardtop sedan was also available, renamed "Fury Gran Sedan" for 1972. The Gran Coupe and Gran Sedan models continued in 1973 and 1974.
In 1975, the mid-size B-body Plymouth Satellite was restyled and renamed Plymouth Fury. As a result, the previous full-sized C-body Fury became known as the Gran Fury. Because the C-body Fury had been redesigned for 1974, the 1975 Gran Fury received few changes besides its new name. Top-of-the-line Gran Fury Brougham models were treated to a new grille and new single-unit headlight design; all Gran Furys would receive this for 1976.
This generation was available as a 2-door coupe, 2-door hardtop, 4-door sedan, 4-door hardtop, and 4-door station wagon. All models with the exception of the wagons rode on the 121.5 in (3,086 mm) wheelbase shared with the Dodge Monaco. Gran Fury Suburban wagons rode on a longer 124 in (3,150 mm) wheelbase that was also used by Monaco wagons and all full-sized Chryslers and Imperials. The 1975 Gran Fury was available in four trim levels: base (sedan and coupe only), "Custom" (all models), "Brougham" (coupe and hardtop only), and "Sport Suburban" (wagon only). Changes for 1976 were minimal. The 4-door hardtop body style was eliminated, leaving only coupes, sedans, and wagons. With this, sedans were now available in deluxe Brougham trim. Offerings were trimmed for the C-body Gran Fury's final model year, 1977. The mid-range Custom trim level was dropped, leaving only base and high-end Brougham coupes and sedans. 1977 Gran Fury wagons were available in either base Suburban or high-end Sport Suburban models. All full-sized C-body Plymouths were discontinued at the end of the 1977 model year, leaving the mid-size B-body Fury to soldier on as Plymouth's large car for 1978. A/C was optional.
Sales of all of the Chrysler Corporation's C-body models for the 1974-1978 model years were considerably disappointing; the Plymouth Gran Fury was no exception. This is because 1973 introduction of the redesigned 1974 model year C-bodies coincided with the 1973 oil crisis. As gas prices skyrocketed, demand for gas-guzzling full-sized cars took a nosedive. C-body offerings decreased throughout the 1974-1978 design cycle. Imperials were the first to go after 1975. Plymouth and Dodge C-bodies were dropped after the 1977 model year. Chrysler C-bodies were discontinued after 1978. The discontinuation of the Gran Fury was followed by the discontinuation of the mid-size Fury after the 1978 model year. This huge gap in Plymouth's lineup left the compact Volaré as Plymouth's largest car for 1979. A redesigned downsized Gran Fury would return in 1980.
When the downsized "R-body" cars were introduced for 1979, no Plymouth version was offered. The low-end Chrysler Newport was intended to fill this gap. Although the Newport achieved this and 1979 sales were fairly strong, there was still heavy demand for a full-sized Plymouth model. So finally in 1980 the Gran Fury returned after a two year absence.
This downsized Gran Fury was available only as a "pillared hardtop" 4-door sedan, this time based on the heavily restyled, but not re-engineered R platform, introduced in 1979 in response to redesigned Chevrolet and Ford models. The "new" R-body was heavily based on Chrysler's old mid-size B-body platform, introduced in 1962 and updated several times thereafter. Nearly identical to the concurrent Chrysler Newport, it was intended to satisfy dealer requests for a lower-priced full-size model, but more importantly to fulfill fleet orders, primarily for police and taxi use.
The 1980 and 1981 Plymouth Gran Fury was available in base and better-equipped "Salon" trim classes; the Salon came equipped with more standard features including a vinyl covered roof, higher-grade interior cloth, split-bench seat, chrome body-side trim, and deluxe wheel covers. Like its sibling, the Dodge St. Regis, the R-body Gran Fury was mainly popular among fleet customers, especially police departments (both the Michigan Highway Patrol and the Ohio State Highway Patrol ordered substantial numbers of the cars), with few sold to private retail customers. In light of this, the 1980 Gran Fury achieved the highest sales of any R-body that year.
The second-generation Gran Fury was also short-lived, and was discontinued midway through the 1981 model year along with the other R-body models due to underwhelming sales. This can be mainly attributed to poor fuel economy, as well as its outdated platform. The 1981 Gran Fury was also the last true full-size car to bear the Plymouth name, until the brand's demise twenty years later.
In 1982, Plymouth downsized the Gran Fury again, this time sharing the mid-size M platform with the Chrysler Fifth Avenue (called "New Yorker" for 1982) and the Dodge Diplomat. In addition to the R-body Gran Fury, the M-body Gran Fury replaced the M-body Chrysler LeBaron, which had moved to the compact K platform that year. Now considered a mid-sized car, this generation Gran Fury was close to the size of what was once the compact Valiant and Volaré. The M-body was in fact heavily based on the Volaré's F platform. Like its predecessor, the 1982 Gran Fury was introduced later than its Chrysler and Dodge siblings; the Chrysler LeBaron and Dodge Diplomat had used the M-body since 1977.
1982-1989 Plymouth Gran Furys shared the Dodge Diplomat's front and rear fascias. They were virtually identical with the exception of badging. Once again, the third generation Gran Fury was available in base and higher-end "Salon" trim. As in previous years, the higher-volume Gran Fury base model was catered more towards fleet customers as police cars and taxis. Gran Fury Salons were geared more towards private customers and were treated with options such as full vinyl roofs, velour upholstery, turbine-spoke wheels, power windows, and power locks.
Although available to private retail customers, the M-body Gran Fury was far more popular with police departments and other fleet customers, primarily since the car was reasonably priced and had a conventional drivetrain with proven components that could withstand a good deal of abuse. This generation of the Gran Fury sold in respectable numbers. However, despite having the same base prices as the Gran Fury (just under $12,000 USD for their final year), the Diplomat always outsold it, usually by several thousand units each year. The Chrysler Fifth Avenue's total sales were always more than that of the Gran Fury and Diplomat by far, even though it generally cost about $6,000 USD more.
This last car to carry the Gran Fury nameplate remained largely unchanged for its 7-year run. Declining sales, a lack of promotion, and technical obsolescence—the platform dated back to the 1976 Plymouth Volare and Dodge Aspen—eventually contributed to the model's demise in 1989. That year, a driver-side airbag became standard; this would be the last RWD Plymouth until the introduction of the Prowler. While Dodge offered the 1990 Monaco, and later the 1993 Intrepid, Chrysler did not replace the Gran Fury with another large car in Plymouth's lineup.
The M-body Gran Fury was also sold in Canada from 1978 to 1989 as the Plymouth Caravelle, badged "Caravelle Salon" after the midsize front-drive Plymouth Caravelle was released in Canada for 1983. Although the Diplomat and LeBaron appeared on the market in mid-1977, the Caravelle was introduced in the fall of 1977 as a 1978 model. It was sold only by Canadian Plymouth dealers and was not available in the U.S., though the midsize front-drive car was offered in the U.S. market starting in 1985.