Plymouth Belvedere

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Plymouth Belvedere
1957 Plymouth Belvedere
1957 Plymouth Belvedere
Parent companyChrysler Corporation
Also calledPlymouth Cranbrook Belvedere
AssemblyHighland Park, United States
PredecessorPlymouth Cranbrook
SuccessorPlymouth Satellite
ClassFull-size (1951-1964)
Mid-size (1965-1970)
LayoutFR layout
ManualsService Manual

The Plymouth Belvedere was an American automobile produced by Plymouth from 1951 through 1970.


First generation

Plymouth Belvedere 1952
ClassFull-size car
Body style(s)2-door hardtop
Engine(s)218 cu in (3.6 L) I6
Wheelbase1951-52: 3010 mm (118.5 in)
1953: 114.0 in (2896 mm)

Introduced on March 31, 1951, the 1951 Plymouth Belvedere arrived as a two-door pillarless hardtop. It was Plymouth's first vehicle of such design and was built in response to Chevrolet's Bel Air. That vehicle, the first two-door hardtop in the low-priced American market, was introduced in 1950 and ended that model year with great success.

The 1951 Belvedere was not a separate model - rather, it was the top-trim Cranbrook. Being built on that car's 118.5 in (3010 mm) wheelbase gave the two-door Belvedere very favorable proportions. Powering the Belvedere was the familiar flathead straight-6 engine. Displacement was 217.8 in³ (3.6 L), the compression ratio was a relatively low 7.00:1, and output was 97 hp (72 kW) (SAE gross). First year prices started at US$2,114.

For 1952, Plymouth kept the Cranbrook Belvedere largely unchanged. The biggest alteration was to the color scheme; to further distinguish the top-level Belvedere from other Plymouths, the two toning now flowed from the roof over the beltline onto the trunk, which has been referred to as the "saddleback" treatment. Two Tone color schemes were Saddle Bronze over Suede, Black over Mint Green, and Gray over Blue. Overdrive was made available as optional equipment in the '52 Plymouth. In overdrive, the engine made three revolutions for each rear wheel revolution against four without overdrive. The engine was a complete carry over from 1951. Prices, however, did increase by about US$100 to $2,216. Production for 1951 and 1952 totalled 51,266 units, which was slightly better than a quarter of Chevrolet Bel Air and Ford Victoria production for that same period. There has never been a separate breakout for Plymouth production figures for the Korean War era years of 1951-52.

The Belvedere remained a part of the Cranbrook series through 1953. For that year, all Plymouth models were completely restyled. Major style changes included a shorter 114 in wheelbase, a one-piece windshield, flush rear fenders, and a lower hood line. In April 1953, Plymouths received the Hy-Drive semi-automatic transmission. Again, Plymouth was behind the competition with Chevrolet having introduced the fully automatic Powerglide transmission in 1950, with Ford following the next year with its fully automatic Ford-O-Matic transmission. The engine was carried over from 1952 with the only enhancement being a slight increase in the compression ratio to 7.10:1, which yielded a gross horsepower rating of 100. The shorter wheelbase partly led to an overall stubby appearance that was panned by consumers and critics. Even with a reduced starting price of US$2,132 demand was rather low. A total of 35,185 1953 Belevederes were sold.


Second generation
Body style(s)2-door coupe
4-door sedan
2-door station wagon
2-door convertible
Engine(s)230.2 in³ I6
273 cid V8
318 cid V8
340 cid V8
360 cid V8
Transmission(s)2-speed automatic
Wheelbase120.0 in (3048 mm)

The Belvedere replaced the Cranbrook as the top-line offering for 1954. Now a separate model instead of just a two-door hardtop coupe, a buyer could choose a convertible, two-door station wagon, four-door sedan or the aforementioned two-door hardtop, now called the Sport Coupe. Slight styling updates adorned the carry-over body design. For the first time, small chrome tailfins appeared on the rear fenders. In March 1954, Plymouth finally offered a fully automatic transmission, the Chrysler Corporation's well-regarded PowerFlite 2-speed. Also new was a larger standard engine: a 230.2 in³ six-cylinder borrowed from the Dodge Division. Power was now rated at 110 hp. Belvedere production slipped to 32,492 for the year.

All Plymouths were treated to a major overhaul for the 1955 model year. This was the first year of Chrysler Stylist Virgil Exner's "Forward Look." The Belvedere returned as top-of-the-line.

For 1956, Plymouth styling evolved from that of the '55s. Most notable would be the addition of the first pushbutton transmission used in American cars and more dramatic rear tailfin treatment which no other car manufacturer in the world was doing. This model was also manufactured in India[citation needed]. In early 1956, the Fury joined the Belvedere line as a special edition high performance model.

1957 would be a banner year for the Chrysler Corporation, and Plymouth was no exception. Plymouth's design was so revolutionary that Chrysler used the slogan "Suddenly, it's 1960!" to promote the new car. The Belvedere line once again included the Fury. This year a new 318in³ V8 with dual four-barrel carburetors was the standard engine in the Fury, and it was available on all Plymouths.

The Belvedere would once again return as a top level trim for 1958. Styling was evolutionary from the sleek 1957 models. Quad headlights were new, as was a big block 350in³ V8 with dual four-barrel carburetors dubbed "Golden Commando."

After the Plymouth Fury was expanded to become Plymouth's top model in 1959, the Belvedere was demoted as the middle priced model.


Third generation
1962 Plymouth Belvedere sedan
Body style(s)2-door coupe
4-door sedan
2-door station wagon
2-door convertible
Engine(s)230.2in³ I6
273 cc V8
318 cc V8
340 cc V8
360 cc V8

The Belvedere remained as Plymouth's mid-priced full-size model through 1964, after which the name was applied to Plymouth's new "mid-size" model (which was a lightly facelifted version of the 1964 Plymouth). Belvedere-based models included the higher trimmed Satellite, muscle car GTX and budget musclecar Road Runner. The name lasted through 1970 after which all mid-size models took the Satellite name.


Fourth generation
1966 Plymouth Belvedere
Body style(s)2-door coupe
4-door sedan
2-door station wagon
2-door convertible
Engine(s)273 cid V8
318 cid V8
340 cid V8
360 cid V8
426 cid Hemi V8

The 1964 Belvedere is also notable for being the car used to introduce the 426 Chrysler Hemi engine, which used a canted large-valve arrangement. This was such a significant high-RPM breathing improvement that Hemi-equipped Plymouth Belvederes won 1st, 2nd, and 3rd at NASCAR's 1964 Daytona race. One of the winning drivers was the famous Richard Petty.[1]


The Plymouth GTX was introduced as the top of the line Belvedere, and Richard Petty won the Grand National championship in NASCAR in a Belvedere. The new LA-style lightweight 318 engine was introduced for this year and would remain available on the Belvedere through its life.

In 1968, the line was restyled with a roofline changed to follow the Charger, standard flip-out rear quarter windows (that would also be used in 1969), and "Coke bottle styling."

The Belvedere name was dropped at the end of the 1970 model year, replaced by the Plymouth Satellite name originally reserved for higher-end Belvederes. The Satellite itself lasted only through 1974; starting in 1975, the car was renamed Plymouth Fury, and the longer-wheelbase Plymouth Fury became the Gran Fury.


Old Style 277-301-303-318 "A" Engines

(note-there are some discrepancies in this section referring to the term "Hemi". 340 engines were not Hemi's and the Hemi was first put into production and performance use as early as 1951, not in the lat 60's as the last paragraph suggests. For more info on the Hemi see Chrysler Hemi in Wikipedia)

These engines were manufactured from 1955-1966. And the newer "LA" engines were introduced in 1967 running all the way till 1992. These engines have led to a lot of confusion with the inclusion of the 273-318, 340-360 "LA" engines also referred to as "A" engines. The old style "A" engine was introduced as a 277ci engine (also referred to as Polyspheres due to the polyspherical cylinder head combustion chamber) with 187hp as standard. The 301/318 engines were introduced in 1957. The 318 2barrel carb(1957-1966) had 230hp while the 318 4barrel(1958-62) had 260hp. In the 57 there was a quad barrel 318 performance package that had 290hp, being the largest output for stock "A" engines. As with the vintage the Polysphere wasn't the choice for Hotrodders because the lack of support for performance parts such as headers, cams, intake manifolds, and cylinder heads that were widely available for the 318 "LA" (1967-1991) and the 340/360 engines. And hence the confusion where old car enthusiasts refer to the 1967 as being the "A" style which is incorrect if you look at Chrysler's engine history.

New Style 273/318/340/360 "LA" Hemi Engines (Commonly referred as "A" but is not correct) The 273 was introduced in 1964 with a 2barrel-180hp, 1965 saw a 4barrel-235hp with performance camshaft, 1966 saw a limited production of the 273 with dual exhaust steel headers, a 700cfm Holley carb, and a .500" lift performance camshaft making 275hp. In 1967 the new style 318 was introduced with came stock with a 2 barrel carb and was not meant to be a performance engine. This engine was just a bigbore version of the 273 and used the latest lightweight casting technology found in the 273. A 318 4 barrel carb was introduced in 1978 after a period of 10 yrs of having the 318 ship with a 2 barrel. The 318 was replaced after 1991 after the introduction of the 1992 5.2 litre Magnum.

The 340 was introduced in 1968 and began to build what was one of the most popular and best small block V8 engines. The 340 had high flow cylinder heads and a 180 degree 2 level intake manifold. The 340 reached its highest stock performance peak in 1970 with a three two-barrel carburetor package and featured a thick web block, special machined cylinder heads, adjustable rocker arms, and special intake manifold and carb. In 1972 the 340 was bumped down in compression from 10.4:1 to an emissions friendly 8.5:1 and shortly there after we had the 1973 oil crisis.

The 360 was introduced in 1971 with a 2 barrel carb and a 9:1 compression ratio. After the 340 was discontinued in 1973 many of the 340 parts were installed on the newer 360 and continued with the 340's performance heritage.

Oklahoma Centennial

Main article: Miss Belvedere

During Oklahoma's 50th Anniversary, a new 1957 Plymouth Belvedere was sealed in a concrete enclosure as a time capsule near downtown Tulsa. It was unearthed June 14, 2007 during the state's centennial celebrations, and was publicly unveiled on June 15. In line with the Cold War realities of late 1950s America, the concrete enclosure was advertised as having been built to withstand a nuclear attack.[2] The concrete enclosure, however, was not airtight and allowed water to leak in, which caused significant damage to the vehicle.[3]

The controversial[4] televised vehicle customizer Boyd Coddington would have been the first to start the unburied car, had it been operable.

The car was the prize of a 1957 contest to guess the population of Tulsa in the year 2007. The winning entrant, one Raymond Humbertson, guessed 384,743 vs. the actual figure of 382,457. However, Mr. Humbertson died in 1979 and now only distant relatives remain[5].

A second such car, this one a brand-new Plymouth Prowler, was encased in an above-ground vault in 1998 to celebrate the city's centennial. It will be revealed after the same period of time as the Belvedere in the year 2048.

Notes and references

External links

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