Gorgeous 1958 Plymouth Belvedere Flaunts Subtle Upgrades and Big-Block Surprise

1958 Plymouth Belvedere 11 photos
Photo: barclaygebel/YouTube
1958 Plymouth Belvedere1958 Plymouth Belvedere1958 Plymouth Belvedere1958 Plymouth Belvedere1958 Plymouth Belvedere1958 Plymouth Belvedere1958 Plymouth Belvedere1958 Plymouth Belvedere1958 Plymouth Belvedere1958 Plymouth Belvedere
Plymouth first used the Belvedere name in 1951. It was a two-door pillarless hardtop version of the Cranbrook and the first Plymouth to have this body design. A response to the Chevrolet Bel Air and Ford Victoria, the Belvedere became a stand-alone nameplate in 1954.
The Belvedere is perhaps better known as the bread-and-butter midsize car of the mid and late 1960s. It's the same vehicle that spawned the iconic Satellite, GTX, and Road Runner. But the Belvedere was also Plymouth's main competitor in the crowded and profitable full-size market from 1954 until 1961.

Like most Chrysler's, it was the recipient of Virgil Exner's "Forward Look" design language in 1955. An even bolder redesign followed in 1957, turning the Plymouth full-size line into a huge success. The Belvedere alone moved more than 200,000 units.

That era also saw the arrival of the Fury. The first-gen model debuted in 1959, but Plymouth launched the nameplate in 1956 as a subseries of the Belvedere. The early Fury was restricted to the two-door hardtop body style and featured V8 power only. The company's range-topping model, it was only available in beige and sported gold anodized aluminum trim and unique interiors. And they looked absolutely gorgeous.

The 1958 Mopar you see here is not a Fury, but it's the next best thing, thanks to a few carefully applied upgrades. Restored sometime in the 1990s in the period-correct and familiar Royal Red, this Belvedere got a partial Fury makeover. It doesn't have the latter's gold trim (aside from the V on the front grille), but it was fitted with 1957 Fury inserts on the rear fenders.

The previous owner also added skirts to the rear wheels, a feature that's also more common on the late 1950s Fury. But look close enough, and you'll also notice a fine pinstripe that runs just above the chrome side inserts and then sweeps upward along the fins. The front hood and trunk lid also showcase pinstripe designs seemingly inspired by 1930s hot rods. The dual antennas round off the Fury look.

The theme continues inside the cabin with 1958 Fury fabric inserts on the seats and the top of the door panels. It's not a radical change compared to the standard Belvedere upholstery, but the subtle red motif is a nice touch against the black and chrome layout.

But the biggest surprise lurks under the hood. There's no info on what engine this Belvedere got from the factory, but it's now rocking a 361-cubic-inch (5.9-liter) big-block V8. And that's unexpected because this mill wasn't available in Plymouth vehicles at the time.

The Belvedere's engine lineup was quite diverse in 1958. The base model came with a 230-cubic-inch (3.8-liter) inline-six good for 132 horsepower, but customers also had the option to upgrade to a 318-cubic-inch (5.2-liter) V8 rated 225 or 250 horsepower. The range-topping lump was a 350-cubic-inch (5.7-liter) V8 that sent 305 horses to the rear wheels.

The 361-cubic-inch V8 in this Belvedere is a genuine Mopar unit, so it's actually a 350 with a larger bore. Both engines are part of the iconic B-block lineup and were introduced in 1958. The 361 found it was into DeSoto and Dodge products that year but was offered in Plymouths until 1959.

The 361 replaced the 350 in the Belvedere that year but provided a similar output of 305 horsepower. However, torque increased from 370 to 395 pound-feet (502 Nm to 536 Nm). But while it may not be a significant upgrade compared to the 350 V8, it's definitely a notable power bump compared to the inline-six and the 318-cubic-inch V8. More importantly, though, this Belvedere is a tasteful build that doesn't impersonate a Fury (or "Christine") like its many of siblings do nowadays. Check it out in the video below.

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About the author: Ciprian Florea
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Ask Ciprian about cars and he'll reveal an obsession with classics and an annoyance with modern design cues. Read his articles and you'll understand why his ideal SUV is the 1969 Chevrolet K5 Blazer.
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