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The “big new Dodge” 880 and Custom 880 were variants of the 1962 Chrysler Newport. They were rushed into production so Dodge could compete with Chevrolet, after its own vehicles were downsized on the strength of a mis-understood rumor; and the speed to production yielded a Newport with a Polara front clip.
The Custom 880 joined the plain 880 in mid-1962; the 1963 cars were similar, but with more body styles, nicer interiors, round tail-lights, an oval grille, and more badging. The Newport moved on in appearance at the same time.
The 1964s gained a modernized and simplified look, with tasteful use of stainless steel and chrome and big wraparound tail-lights; the Custom 880 also gained a nicer interior with foam padded seats and stainless steel rocker-panel trim. Dodge’s delta symbol was placed on the front of each fender, partly for decoration and partly to help drivers figure out where the corners were. Side ornamentation was kept simple. Tail lights were “bold” and horizontal, with wide lenses wrapping completely around the rear fenders and extending part way across the back of the car. A large back window extended into the roof.
The Dodge 880 was replete with features such as the optional seven-position tilt wheel and four-speed floor-shift manual transmission. The interior had, according to Dodge “the luxury of soft vinyls, fine fabrics, and subdued colors” (blue, tan, red, turquoise, and gold). Since the old instrument cluster dated back to 1961, the 1964 cars gained a new one.
The 1964 engines were a 265-horsepower (gross) 361 V8 and a 305-horsepower 383 V8, sharing a 3.38” stroke. Torque was a hefty 380 lb-ft for the 361 and 410 for the 383, and peak torque came in at a low 2,400 rpm. The 361 ran on regular gas, with a 9:1 compression ratio, while the 383, with a 10:1 ratio, required premium. Wheels were 14 inches in diameter.
Because station wagons were always low sellers, they generally did not change as often; so throughout the 880’s run, the wagons kept much of the 1961 Dodge stampings. The 1964 line included a hardtop and convertible, with six body styles overall, all on the 122-inch wheelbase.
Elwood Engel led a second restyling of the 880, yielding more conventional angles and fewer curves on the 1965 Dodges; the Dodge 880 was replaced by a resized Dodge Polara, while the Custom 880 moved up above the Polara, and the Dodge Monaco two-door hardtop was above all other Dodges. The Custom 880 included foam padded seats, stainless steel window frames, and vinyl interiors, with a six-window sedan and faux-wood-trimmed wagon (using Di-Noc).
Even at its peak, the 880 never sold even half as well as the Chrysler Newport on which it was based; sales were always below 35,000 units per year. The Custom 880 name was dropped at the end of the 1965 model year, and was replaced by an expanded 1966 Dodge Monaco range.
Despite its large size outside, the Dodge 880 wasn’t larger inside than a modern midsize car, save for the trunk (rating methods for trunk space have changed, so those numbers are not directly comparable). The main space benefit of the older car was width, which was far more generous.
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* The measurement system has changed dramatically so these figures are not comparable in any way.
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