by Shannon Mafodda
1955 Dodge Coronet and Royal
In 1958 the Dodge division of the Chrysler Corporation of Detroit,
Michigan had three models: the Coronet, Royal,
and Custom Royal. These models used the same turret as some Desotos,
but had a distinctive body style of their own. All were essentially similar, with different trim lines and features.
The Coronet was the base model. It didn't
have as much chrome work as the other two models, which was especially
noticeable on the front with the lack of 'teeth' and dress work. They also had a different rear bumper bar which had little rubber stoppers on the corners. Ironically, the Coronet had been the top Dodge model from 1949 to 1953.
The majority of Coronets had the Getaway 6, a mighty
engine in its time which produced a 123 gross horsepower. They also
came out with the 325 cu inch Red Ram V8. This engine coupled with the
optional PowerFlite push button two speed transmission made it a good
package to drive. The PowerFlite transmission had a 1.72 to 1 first gear
which made it comparable to the GM PowerGlide. The standard
transmission on all models except D500 package and option models was
the 3 speed TorqueFlite automatic.
The Custom Royal was the top of the line.
In its base configuration the Custom Royal was still a special car.
It came standard with the Super Red Ram 350 cu inch V8 an engine which
was the Father of the 413 Wedge and the Grandfather of the legendary
big block Hemis. The 350 is a big block engine in size but a small
block in cubes. The engine came out of the factory with 10 to 1
compression and a mighty 300 Brake Horse Power
(4 barrel version). From its fully machined crank to its raised
single plane manifold this engine was made to rock. It came standard
with a two barrel WW series Down Draft Carbie which was ok but it
needed a bit more throat give it the poke, so it also came out with the
4 barrel version which complemented the engine greatly.
The Custom Royal also had great deal more chrome work and included
the trickiest exhaust tips I have ever seen. They bolted to the rear
bumper had had little louvres on them, if you have a set or know were a
set is, get them and keep them as they are as rare an honest politician.
The Custom Royal also had the Knight's Head emblem on the front
guards, steering wheel and the Hub Caps (also a rare item). Most
vehicles came out of the factory as two tones, I have seen red and
white, blue and white, black and white and dark green and light green.
I have seen some single colour cars such as all black and bronze but
you don't see them as often. In fact, the Custom Royal is a rare sight
on the roads of Australia. I have been told that there were only 200
hundred factory RHD vehicles exported to Australia from America. They
were mainly vehicles made up of various parts with small changes in
chrome work and options.
The options on the Custom Royal were air conditioning , power
steering, electric seats, power windows and most impressive a kerosene
heater in the back seat (Canada only), they also had different engine
options which could turn your Custom Royal from a cruiser to a screamer.
Webmaster note: the 1956 Custom Royal was the basis for the La
Femme, which was painted lavender and white, and came with a matching
umbrella, hat, and purse hook.
The D500 model is profiled here.
The D500 option was one of two options for the engine. The D500 was
a 361 V8 with a 4 barrel carbie, a very similar
engine to the 350. The Dodge workshop manual refers to this engine as a
The D500 came with a Dual Contact distributor to complement the
larger carbie, and was said to produce 300 horsepower. The majority of 1958 and 1959 Facel Vegas, the French cars with
Dodge running gear, had D500 engines and boasted a top
speed of 175 mph. A twin four-barrel version, using Carter WCFB carbeturos, produced 310 hp.
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