Hell Hath No Fury

Posted October 31, 2018

Perhaps the most iconic, terror-inducing vehicle to ever hit the big screen is a 1958 Plymouth Fury known as Christine.

What started as a 1983 novel from “King of Horror” author Stephen King was adapted for a Hollywood production by director John Carpenter later that same year. Carpenter is most well known for his highest-grossing film, Halloween, a 1978 slasher thriller starring Jamie Lee Curtis, which introduced America to killer Michael Myers.

Five years later, Carpenter would employ his same suspenseful techniques to bring King’s novel to life. The story Christine follows the lives of Arnie Cunningham and those around him after he purchases a vintage 1958 Plymouth Fury named Christine. Eventually viewers discover that the car is actually possessed by a demon spirit hellbent on revenge against anyone who does the car — or it’s owner — wrong. The film has since become a cult classic, just like the iconic 1958 Plymouth Fury from the film.

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King once stated that he chose the ’58 Fury because it was a forgotten car. “I didn’t want a car that already had a legend attached to it, like the ’50s Thunderbird.” The vengeful name of the model he chose was just coincidence.

When Carpenter was looking to cast the role of Christine, he placed ads in Southern California newspapers looking for various 1957 or 1958 Plymouths including the Fury, Belvedere and Savoy, all of which were used at different points to portray Christine on screen. Those newspaper ads resulted in the purchase of 24 automobiles in various states of disrepair, which were used to build 17 copies of the film car. All of the cars were two-door hardtops.

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Back in 1958, Plymouth only rolled around 5,000 Fury automobiles off the assembly line, which made the model difficult to find and expensive to purchase, even in 1983. Even more interesting was the fact that the 1958 Fury only came in one color: Buckskin Beige. The original Fury also featured gold body trim, which was even more difficult to find than the car itself.

In order to solve that problem, the Christine replicas featured the more common Belvedere Dartline trim. The end product resulted in many Belvedere and Savoy models with front-end modifications to look like the Fury. Moreover, the engine sounds heard in the movie are not those of a Plymouth. The sound for the final film version was a 1970 Mustang 428 Super Cobra jet engine.

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The Hollywood special effect of Christine regenerating itself after being damaged was done using hydraulic pumps. The pumps inside the car were attached to the sides of a plastic-paneled body double. The pumps pulled in the sides to make the damaged version of the car. Then the film was simply played backwards to give the illusion that the car fixed itself.

Of the 24 cars used in the film, only a couple are known to still exist. When filming was completed, only a few undamaged cars were left. And those that were in good shape toured the country to promote the film before being sold to collectors. In 2015, one of the full-restored movie cars was sold for $198,00 at Barrett-Jackson in Scottsdale, Arizona.

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Thanks to a deal with Greg’s Speed Shop in Waupaca, Wisconsin, I was able to see Christine up close at the 2018 Iola Car Show in Iola, Wisconsin, along with a ton of movie memorabilia. Since then, Christine has toured the country, stopping in at various events and even making some cameo appearances in other horror movies. So as you’re out trick-or-treating this evening, keep your eyes open for Christine. She’s one car you wouldn’t want to cross paths with.

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Movie Cars Plymouth Fury