John Carpenter has directed countless horror movies over the years that have gone on to attain cult status. Halloween and The Fog may spring to everyone’s minds, but they don’t come better than Christine. This Stephen King novel, adapted for the screen in 1983, is such a chilling ride, it puts goosebumps on top of your goosebumps.
The story revolves around pathetic teenager Arnie Cunningham, who is bullied at high school by a nasty gang. But upon stumbling across a dilapidated 1958 Plymouth Furycalled Christine, he sets about restoring the car and in the process, not only rebuilds his character but seeks revenge on those who tormented him.
Since this film is almost 30 years old, you’ve surely seen it and already know Christine is possessed by an evil spirit and likes nothing more than to prowl the streets at night and knock-off all of Arnie’s mean school bullies in lots of imaginative ways. Arnie even warns them. “You better watch what you say about my car. She’s real sensitive…” They don’t listen and what results is one of Carpenter’s best works. He’d have had a mighty problem on his hands in trying to depict the majestic cherry red Fury, a sub-series of the Belvedere, as the epitome of evil because it was such a pretty car. Those Plymouths were the top-of-the-line models back in the day.
Introduced in 1956 with a 303 cubic inch (5.0-litre) V8, the two-door hard-top coupé featured massive tail fins, a logo which more than resembled that of Cadillac — the brand it was gunning after — and styling typical of the Fifties such as white walls and miles of chrome.
The following year, it gained a 318 CI (5.2-litre) V8 and boasted the ‘forward look’ while benefiting from a torsion-bar front suspension and the Torque Flite automatic gearbox. Then, in 1958 came the 350 CI (5.7-litre) Golden Commando V8 with over 300bhp. It was considered to be the best engine ever built by Plymouth. Each and every one of the 5,303 Fury’s produced that year left the production line painted a rich, deep shade of beige (the 1956 model was only available in white, the 1957 just in light beige while Christine was born bathed in blood-red paint) with gold anodised aluminium side trim and grille. It was a delightful combination which went a long way in making it the car of the moment. Its eight-barrel carburation system, dual exhausts, revised heavy-duty Torsion-Aire suspension and the 150mph speedo helped make it the king of the road. It was appreciated by all, none more so than rivals General Motors. Legend has it that after seeing the 1958 Fury, Harley Earl threw a brochure of the striking car at his design team and shouted, “why don’t you all just quit!”
The Fury could be both a tyre burning hot-rod one minute and a luxurious coupé the next. Twenty one examples were used during the making of the movie and sadly, most were wrecked. But, if you find yourself a clean one today, you’d have to pay in excess of $50,000 for it.