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The DeSoto, Plymouth, and Dodge Coronado

by Mike Sealey and Jim Benjaminson

The Coronado name was attached to many different cars. In the United States, Chrysler used the "Coronado" name on a "spring special" (new models brought out in midyear to stimulate showroom traffic at what would otherwise be a slow time of year). However, in export markets, particularly in Argentina, the Coronado name was used as a regular model which could be sold as something different in the United States - except for the Plymouth Coronado, a series of extended wheelbase eight passenger sedans made in Belgium.

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Hans Ensing provided a photo of a 1962 eight-passenger Coronado produced in the Rotterdam plant; it was essentially a continuation of the Coronados that had been made in Antwerp. The basis was a Plymouth Belvedere; the floor and roof were cut and material was added to the middle. The floor was welded together fairly easily, but the roof was more difficult, requiring a thick layer of tin to be sprayed on. The interior had a large rear compartment with extra folding chairs. Engines were a six cylinder and a Perkins four-cylinder diesel. A series of these cars were ordered by an Israeli importer, but they failed to pay for the order, and the cars were stored for around a year near the docks; due to humidity, the cars had to be reconditioned before eventually being sold in Europe.

DeSoto Coronado

The DeSoto Coronado was a trim option on the 1954 Firedome and 1955 Fireflite. 1955 Coronados were only 4 door Fireflite sedans in three colors, black, turquoise and white.

Leslie Howard wrote: The 1955 DeSoto Fireflite Coronado was only available in the tri-tone color scheme (with a bright green, white top, and black side-spear) or turquiose, white, and black in any main, roof, sweep combination. They featured the Fireflite Sportsman leather and cloth interiors on them, which were not available on the standard Fireflite sedans.

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Darrell wrote: "Currently there is just over 25,000 miles on this car. We drive it to many
car shows as well as the Mopars in Motion shows in our area. I will be taking this car to Hemmings Motor News Musclepalooza VII this Spring for a one time face off with a worthy the F.A.S.T. class. This car has taken first place at the National DeSoto Club Convention in 2001."

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Plymouth Coronados

Plymouth used the name "Coronado" for its line of foreign built extended wheelbase eight passenger sedans after 1958. As Jim Benjaminson wrote:

Plymouth announced a line of extended wheelbase cars in 1958; the cars were to be built in Chrysler subsidiary "Societe Anonyme Chrysler" Antwerp, Belgium plant. Built on a 142" wheelbase (two feet over normal) the cars were built as Plymouth, Dodge Kingsway and DeSoto Diplomat models, although all were based on the Plymouth body shell. All were equipped with heavy duty front and rear suspensions including a front sway bar. The rear axle had a larger diameter ring gear, special ratios and heavy duty axle shafts. Power was by either the 230 cubic inch flathead six or the 318 V8.

The name "Coronado" was not applied to these cars [at first] as far as I can tell (I have the 1958 brochure which does not use this name, at least for the Plymouth version). Transmission choices included a straight three speed or TorqueFlite automatic. Rear axle ratio was 4.1 with the straight stick, 3.73 with automatic. The chassis was a "rugged steel box frame with six extra cross members." V8 models came with power steering--tire size was 8:50x14" on six inch wide rims. One of these cars is pictured in my book Plymouth, 1946-1959.

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Jim has corresponded with an individual in Pennsylvania who has (or had) a 1961 Coronado that had an interesting history (claimed previously "royalty" owned). It was an extended wheelbase eighht passenger, with the Coronado nameplate clearly visible on the rear. His brochure for the 1962 Coronado refers to the car as "Coronado--an 8 passenger sedan built by Chrysler." The Plymouth name does not appear anywhere on the car but it is obviously a 1962 Plymouth.

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Specifications for the 1962 Coronado include a 140" wheelbase, overall length of 226.7 inches and a weight of 3,970 pounds. Engine choices included a 225 Slant Six or 318 V8. It also included torsion bar suspension with "heavy duty componenets, l" adjustable shocks on the front, outboard mounted heavy duty asymmetrical leaf springs with 1 3/8" adjustable shocks on the rear. Tire size 7:10x15" six plys on 5 1/2" wide rims. Standard accessories include windshield washer, variable speed wipers, cigar lighter, heater and defroster, front bumper guards and backup lamps. The brochure lists an address of Chrysler International S.A., Geneva, Switzerland although the brochure was printed in England and came to me from a fellow in Holland!

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J. Veltman's 1962 Coronado (courtesy Jim Bejaminson)1962 Plymouth Coronado: provided by Marko Lonngren, photo by Marten Carlsson

Philippe Courant wrote that he had seen a 1960 Plymouth Coronado limousine, and basvanzwienen wrote, "The Coronados where built in Holland, in Rotterdam at the former Nekaf assembly factory for a few years. Chryslers (mainly Dodge Darts and Valiants) were assembled in Holland until 1969."

Dodge Coronado

Coronados were sold in South America for many years; in 1961, the Coronado was based on the full-sized American Dodges. The Coronado name was later applied (like so many others) to the A-body (Valiant), as sold in Australia and South America. This was apparently made for a number of years, and was given its own unique styling. The Valiant was also the basis for the Australian Charger, and a South American Charger R/T which was given styling very similar to that of the America, B-body-based Dodge Charger. A Dodge Dart was also sold in South America, as well as the Dodge 1800, a rebadged Hillman Avenger. (Photo of the Argentine Valiant Coronado courtesy David Desmond.)

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John Predgen supplied information on Argentina, where Coronado was the label given to a high-line four-door Polara - a car which may actually have been based on the Valiant, as well. A standard six cylinder (225 slant six) was fitted, generating about 145 hp gross and 215 lb ft gross. Apparently a single-barrel Holley carburetor was used. Maximum speed was listed as 99 mph, 0-50 in 9 seconds (one second more for the automatic version), 17 mpg.

The Coronado GTX was also available; boasting a 318 V8 (two-barrel carb) and four-speed manual transmission, in 1975 at least, this high-line Polara had 230 hp, 245 lb-ft of torque, a 2.87 axle ratio, and a top speed of 121 mph.

Again for 1975, interesting features included front disc brakes, a Perkins diesel engine, Sure-Grip axle, front sway bar, 14x6 rims, air conditioning (handy in Argentina!), power brakes and steering, an optional axle rato on the GTX, and reclining bucket seats and console with floor shift on two-door models.

According to the source book, published by the Italian Auto Club, the Coronado had four doors; Dodge also sold a Polara and Polara R/T in Argentina during these years. The Polara and Coronado used the same sheet metal, but the Coronado was an upscale version. It was very attractive, but only 13,500 Dodge cars were produced in 1975 (in Argentina). The last year for the GTX and R/T was 1978, and the Polara and Coronado's last years were 1979.

Length: 197"Wheelbase: 111"Front Track: 56"
Height: 55.5"Weight: 3132-3303 lbRear track: 57.5"
Turning radius: 38.5 ft

1961 Coronado specifications (South America)

  • 6 cylinder: 225 slant six, 8.2:1 c.r., brake horsepower 145 at 4000 RPM, torque 215 lb-ft at 2800 RPM.
  • 318 V8: 9.0:1 c.r., brake horsepower 230 at 4400 RPM, torque 340 lb-fts. at 2400 RPM.
  • Fuel System: filter in gas tank; auto choke; single carb; 20 gallon tank; mechanical fuel pump
  • Cooling System: High capacity radiator; thermostat, pressure-vent radiator cap; 15 quarts including heater
  • Lubrication: full pressure with rotor-type oil pump and full-flow filter, 4 quart (I-6) or 5 quart (V8) + 1 quart for filter replacement.
  • Electrical System:70-75 amp-hour, 12 volt battery with 35 amp alternator, voltage regulator, circuit breaker-protected lighting, resistor plugs, and dual headlamps
  • Clutch: 6 cylinder only - dry disc single plate, 10" diameter
  • Transmission:
    • slant six: heavy-duty three-speed manual with synchronized second and third gears; 1st 2.71, 2nd 1.83, 3rd 1.00, reverse 3.2
    • V8: automatic TorqueFlite, 1st 2.55, 2nd 1.49, Drive 1.00, Reverse 2.00
  • Rear Axle: semi-floating hypoid axle, 3.91:1 six cylinder, 3.58:1 V8
  • Frame: double-channel arc-welded box type with front subframe; unitized body construction
  • Suspension: heavy duty front torsion bars, antisway bar, heavy-duty semi-elliptic rear springs, firm-ride front
  • Steering: power steering, 55 feet turning diameter
  • Wheels: steel with safety rims, 15 x 6.00 (7.6 x 15), six-ply whitewall tires
  • Brakes: 12" Hydraulic brakes with vacuum brake booster; parking brake on prop-shaft
  • Propeller Shaft: Two piece tubular shaft with 3 cross type universal joints and support

Standard equipment included armrests on all door panels, ashtrays, coat-hooks, heater and defroster, turn signals, dual horns, backup lights, locking gas cap, variable speed wipers with washers, front bumper guards, tool kit, and gray vinyl trim inside.

1961 Coronado1967 Valiant1968 Fury/Coronet2007 Charger
Interior Width F/R60.4 / 59.8
Seat Depth F/R18.1 / 17.2
Luggage capacity29.4 cu.ft.25 cu.ft. 16.2 cu.ft.

* Note: the 142" wheelbase might be a typo, but that's the way it appeared on the 1961 press release.


Cars with similar names:

  • Oldsmobile Toronado...would it have sold better as a Tornado?
  • Coronado brand (fictional, in Alistair MacLean's The Way to Dusty Death)

Rob Smith wrote: Simply thought I'd point out that there are actually two Coronados in that photo of the '62 Coronado at the bottom of the page. If you haven't noticed before, the aircraft in the photo is a Convair CV-990A, also referred to by Swissair (in whose colors the plane appears), as the Coronado.

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