The worst-case scenario in the car hobby is the jigsaw puzzle project.
Darren Ostrander faced this automotive mountain when he took over a ’62 Plymouth Sport Fury two-door hardtop. Darren said most of the nasty work was done, so the car was close to the finish line—but it was still in pieces. He’d looked for a long time, and he found this ’62 Sport Fury a few miles from his home so Darren had to make a decision about taking it on.
He wasn’t sold on the car—in fact he asked himself, “What if I don’t want a project?”. Despite the odds, Darren said, “It’s only in 10,000 pieces—they all fit together somehow”—so he jumped into the game.
Darren is an analytical, hands-on guy with a sense of humor, so he was the perfect candidate for the job. The last owner sat on the car for thirty years before a divorce put the Sport Fury on the market. The car was basically whole, but Darren said there was “a lot of sourcing and de-bugging to do” when he took over. The process took four years.
The Sport Fury came with a non-factory 413 under the hood but it was painted in its factory color, so that was an asset. Darren found a correct 361 4-barrel V-8 and dumped the 413 big-block.
He also sourced factory correct door panel and seats, plus he found the correct wheel covers. The car came together in one piece, but it’s definitely a work in progress—as are most complete restorations.
There’s a big list of items that need attention and most of them are electrical. Darren likes to solve problems, so he’s not intimidated by the process—but that doesn’t mean he has to like it.
The electrical problems include a wonky gas gauge, temperature gauge and dash lights. The motor has a noisy lifter, and the choke isn’t correct for the car. These are some of the things he has on his list.
Darren has battled with the look of the car through the whole process. He calls it “The Plucked Chicken”—in homage to legendary Chrysler designer Virgil Exner. Exner hung the same label on the post Forward Look cars after his magnificent fin era ended.
This is a love-hate car. Darren was standing by a woman didn’t know he was the owner, so she asked the question “Who would want to restore such an ugly car?”. He was undaunted by that comment—his biggest fear is what he’s going to do with “all the useless information” he acquired during the reconstruction of the Sport Fury. Most of it (in his opinion) is only important to other ’62 Sport Fury owners.
The important thing is that Darren is having a lot of fun driving the car—and answering the inevitable questions about his Plymouth.
By: Jerry Sutherland
Jerry Sutherland is a veteran automotive writer with a primary focus on the collector car hobby. His work has been published in many outlets and publications, including the National Post, Calgary Herald, Edmonton Journal, Ottawa Citizen, Montreal Gazette, Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Regina Leader-Post, Vancouver Sun and The Truth About Cars. He is also a regular contributor to Auto Roundup Publications.
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