The Plymouth Furry, introduced in 1959 in order to distract Ralph Nader from the havoc caused by the previous year's 1958 Plymouth Fury model, is the first of a long series of cars inexplicably named after cute, furry creatures that otherwise have little or nothing to do with cars.
While a simple 'reskinning' ploy, the distinctive fursuit-based design worked wonders to spare Chrysler the Ralph Nader-inspired attacks directed at all other US Big Three automakers.
Ignoring the cuddly-looking Plymouth Furry, Nader instead directed his fury against the Chevrolet Corvair and the exploding Ford Pinto as "unsafe at high speed" and "unsafe at any speed". Had Nader realised what really lurked behind that 1959 Plymouth Furry exterior, he might have thought twice about concentrating his efforts and wrath solely upon Ford and General Motors.
White Elephants crop up on car lots everywhere
Inevitably, the tactic was copied by other automakers with a whole menagerie of critters added to car lineups to distract Nader and his Green Party minions. Without the distinctive red fursuit within which the Chrysler engineers designed the Plymouth Furry, however, the effect was somewhat lost.
The list of cars named for wildlife to which they bear no resemblance is nonetheless a long one:
|Birds||Ford Falcon, Lada ('swan'), AMC Eagle, Ford Turkey|
AMC Talon, Crapmobile Vulture, Blue Bird school bus
|Horses||Dodge Charger, Hyundai Pony, KIA Pet|
|Kittens||Jaguar, Mercury Bobcat and Polecat|
|Sheep||Dodge Ram, Dodge Aries, Dodge Lambchop|
|Furry critters||Fiat panda, VW Rabbit, Crapmobile Skunk|