Time Machine: John Susong's 1964 Plymouth Sport Fury
Check out John Susong’s time machine. The spectacular 1964 Plymouth Sport Fury doesn’t have a flux capacitor, but its race-ready Hemi has the power to transport John from one end of the dragstrip to the other—in a seriously short span of time. “I wanted a 10-second machine I could drive on the street, and I didn’t want to carry a screwdriver in my back pocket just to keep the darn thing running,” explains the Ohio native.
This mighty Mopar however, isn’t John’s first high performance ride. His inventory of past and present street machines includes a 1963 Plymouth station wagon, 1990 Corvette ZR1, and a 2008 Dodge Challenger. A resume like that might be enough for some guys, but not John. “Around 2005, I decided the time was right to build a hot rod with the best of everything,” he says.
But, why pick a Plymouth? “I like the Sport Fury’s body style and I thought it was something that would really stand out among all of the Chevelles out there,” answers John. “I found this car in the newspaper, it was stock, it wasn’t crispy, and it only had 34,000 miles on the odometer,” he adds.
John purchased the car, brought it home, and there it sat for a few years. To get the build off of top-dead-center, he called on his neighbor and master hot rod builder, Bud Wentz of Wentz Hot Rods. The first order of business was to choose the right rollers—a set of Weld RTS forged aluminum wheels. “Bud likes to start every build with the wheels, they really define a car’s personality,” states John.
Although the Fury was in rock-solid shape, Bud’s plan of attack called for some major sheetmetal surgery. “We took a perfectly good car and cut it to pieces,” says John with a smile. The floor was cut out, the rear wheelwells were tubbed, and the wheelbase was stretched back 1 1/2".
The ’64’s factory chassis was sufficient back in the day, but it just wasn’t designed to handle the riggers of modern-day drag racing. So Bud fabricated a 3" x 4" box- and round-tube frame complete with a mild-steel roll cage. This torque-resistant setup keeps the Fury on the straight and narrow during hard launches at the strip, and also provides a sturdy foundation for the car’s Magnum Force tubular front suspension, Alston rear four-link system, and QA1 coilover shocks.
“Right from the start, John wanted the car to have a Hemi,” says Bud. Well, John got his wish. Sitting in the meticulously prepared engine bay is an Indy All Aluminum Street Legend Hemi that’s built for speed and is capable of creating a real ruckus. “I can’t hear my stereo when I’m driving down the highway,” chuckles John!
Perched on top of the 528 c.i.d. crate engine are a pair of gleaming Edelbrock 800 cfm carburetors controlled by a progressive linkage throttle setup. “I run pump gas and the progressive linkage gives me good mileage on the street,” says John. An MSD 6AL ignition control, Blaster 2 coil, and Pro-Billet distributor handle the ignition duties, and a Powermaster starter gets the whole, high performance party rolling.
Just so no one has to ask, John machined a set of billet HEMI emblems for the Fury’s narrowed fiberglass hood scoop, as well as the script “Furyous” badges that adorn the rear quarter panels. Up front, the car’s aluminum grille wears a brilliant chrome finish that beats the original anodized look by a mile. “It weighs about twice as much because of all of the copper and chrome, but it sure looks good,” says Bud.
The exquisite Tangerine paint job covering the Sport Fury’s exterior is a real treat for the eyes, but the smooth-as-glass citrus shade wasn’t John’s first choice. “I wanted Hemi Orange, but I decided that color would make my car look uglier than a mud fence,” he says. John worked with Bud to choose the final color, and the pair also experimented with varying the amounts of metal flake in the finish. “I think too much flake can make a car look like a bass boat,” quips John.
Design inspiration for the splendid charcoal leather and suede interior came directly from John’s 2008 Challenger. The cockpit boasts perfectly crafted upholstery over a pair of donated GM van seats, and a Billet Specialties steering wheel and B&M shifter add subtle aluminum accents. John reads the Fury’s vitals from a full set of Classic Instrument gauges that have been customized with his “Furyous” logo.
Admittedly, John and Bud are still trying to dial in the perfect setup to collect a 10 second time slip at the strip, and the car can sometimes require some tinkering to run its best. “I don’t need to carry a screwdriver, I need a whole trailer full of tools,” says John with a laugh! We say keep trying John and you’ll make your 10-second pass. With a machine this cool, it’s only a matter of time.
Photography By: Todd Biss
Art Direction By: Lance Nemes
Story By: James Millar
Frame: Custom 3" x 4" box- and round-tube frame by Wentz Hot Rods
Rear End: Alston Pro Fab Ford 9", Richmond Gear 4.10:1 ring-and-pinion, limited slip differential, Strange axles
Suspension and Steering: Magnum Force rack-and-pinion and tubular front suspension system, Alston 4-link rear suspension, QA1 coil-over shocks, Ididit steering column
Brakes: Wilwood disc brakes
Custom Features: Custom roll cage, aluminum floor and wheel tubs by Wentz Hot Rods
Wheels and Tires: Weld RTS forged polished-aluminum wheels 15" x 5" front /15" x 14" rear, Mickey Thompson Sportsman 26 x 7.50-15 front and Hoosier Quick Time Pro 31 x 12.50R-15LT rear tires
Engine and Transmission
Engine: Indy 528 c.i.d. All Aluminum Street Legend Hemi (10.25:1 compression ratio, 720 hp @ 6,300 rpm/710 ft-lbs. @ 5,800 rpm), Indy 426-1 CNC 285 cylinder heads, ported and polished, with 167cc combustion chambers, Ross pistons, Eagle Specialty Products H-beam connecting rods and 4340 crankshaft, COMP Cams R-1 roller camshaft and lifters, Indy rocker arms, Smith Brothers pushrods, Manley valves, springs, and retainers, Billet Specialties breathers
Induction: Indy cross ram intake manifold, dual 800 cfm Edelbrock Thunder Series carburetors, Billet Specialties air cleaner
Ignition and Electrical: MSD Pro Billet distributor, Blaster 2 coil, and 6AL CD ignition box; Taylor ignition wires; Powermaster starter; Summit 140 amp alternator
Exhaust: TTI Performance Exhaust 2 1/8" ceramic-coated headers, custom dual 3" exhaust, Flowmaster 40 Series mufflers
Other Items: Aeromotive electric fuel pump, Summit hoses, Earl's fittings, Summit 20 gallon fuel cell
Transmission: Rossler GM 4L80E transmission, Precision Industries torque converter, B&M Magnum Grip Pro Stick shifter
Body: 1964 Plymouth Sport Fury
Custom Features: Rear wheelwells moved back 1 1/2", custom fiberglass hood scoop, flared rear bumper, chromed grille and tail panels, billet side molding, custom emblems by owner
Paint: PPG Candy Tangerine with Gold Vibrance Iridescence
Paint and Body Work By: Wentz Hot Rods
Upholstery By: Portage Trim
Seats: GM Van
Dash: Roll cage welded through dash, Classic Instruments gauges
Other items: Pioneer stereo
2010 Summit All Mopar Show, Tallmadge, Ohio: Best in Show
2010 Steel Valley Super Nationals, Salem Ohio: Best in Show
2010 Goodguys Blue Suede Cruise, Norwalk, Ohio: Slick 60s
Special thanks to: Bud Wentz, Bill Brautigam, Bill Blair, Ron Kintz