Friday, June 10, 2016

Amazing old Hemi enjoying retirement near the ocean

I rode out to Coney Island the other day and all the way out on the end of Ocean Parkway within blocks of the beach I passed this cruddy beast:
This is a 1954 Dodge Coronet in what was probably Willow Green. The paint job has gone through plenty of transformation over the years though as you will see.
This is quite the handsome ride. Cars from the early-to-mid '50s were some of the first new designs since the beginning of WWII since production halted in 1942 through the end of the war. When the war was over there was a pent-up need for new cars so the automakers all cranked out what they had the tooling for which were essentially 1942 era rides. This car represents the small window between looking and acting more modern without going full-on '50s tail-fin and chrome drenched glitz.
The original color is peeking out from below the grill. That turn signal is real glass like a little lighthouse lens. The magnifying capabilities were essential as this car had a 6 volt system from the factory.
The Coronet name has had its ups and downs. Introduced in 1949, it was the highest trim level of Dodge. However starting in this year of 1954 it was knocked down a peg by the addition of the newly top-of-the-heap Dodge Royal. Just a year later it would further get the shaft, falling to the lowest trim level. What a sad story for Coronet!
Let's take a moment to admire the brushwork this shadetree mechanic uses to touch up the paint.
This is a nicely proportioned car with just about equal hood and trunk length. Notice how the roof is high enough for the hats that most men of the day were wearing. This was a legitimate concern that people noted if the headroom didn't allow for it.
That wrap-around back window is pretty slick. In the following year wrap-around windshields would really begin to take hold.
Check out the roof. You can see where the owner stood at the back corner and painted what he could reach from that one spot!
Inside is just lovely. The chrome T-handle emerging from under the left side of the dash is the parking brake.
The center cap of the steering wheel has the V symbol denoting the engine choice as well as the optional POWER STEERING written around it in gold. The radio is another option, but to the right of that there is a panel that just reads CORONET. This is the spot where the clock would be installed if it had been ordered.
*That radio cost an extra $83 back in the day; $735 today after inflation!
The upholstery looks original!
I love ancient stickers like this one.
At first glance I thought this birdcage full of flowers was painted on the rear side window, but it might be a large old sticker. Either way it's confounding and charming.
The paint job looks alright (or at least you don't notice it) from 20 or so feet, but once you get closer;
You see that parts of the body have been repaired with regular old tape painted over with a brush!
I thought this metal circle was the gas cap but the paint looks to have overlapped onto it. Maybe it hasn't gotten gas since the latest touch-up?
You can see the placement of that possible gas cap and how it is mirrored on the other side by a reverse light.
Everything in this picture is awesome! The trunk lock consists of 2 small padlocks on a hinged latch. The totally awesome and futuristic emblem is bragging about the VEight engine as well as the optional PowerFlight auto trans, and that sturdy thick glass reverse light proudly stares out from its tape and paint setting. Incidentally that PowerFlight was the first fully automatic trans offered by Dodge and it was a 2 speed.
The standard engine was the 230 inline 6 cylinder. However since this has various V8 emblems on it we know that this was built with the 241 Red Ram Hemi V8. This was the smaller version of the famous 331 FirePower Hemi first released in 1951 by Chrysler/DeSoto. Even this smaller 241 set several land speed records at the Bonneville Salt Flats in a Dodge much like this one.
Everything looks pretty normal here except, wait a minute, what's with that door handle?
WHAT!? I've been fascinated with cars since I was sitting in a stroller and I've NEVER seen this! The handle came off or something and the owner just decided to cover over it with mesh drywall tape and slap green paint over the wound? Dude. This is next-level out of the box thinking. All that original 62 year old chrome and he's slapping paint all over it too. This owner is a BEAST!
It's sporting the original set of Dodge V8-specific hubcaps. You can see the lettering used to filled in with red. Maybe I'll head back and leave a note and a jar of red house paint to see what they'll do.
Still looking cool even after all it's been through.
We'll leave this old Hemi with a glance at the awesome ram hood ornament and another V8 emblem. This is such a cool car and I'm not even mad that it looks like it's lived its life on the streets of Havana. My hope is that somebody has owned this thing since new and parks it outside their retirement apartment on the border of Coney Island and Brighton Beach. Somebody continues to love it and show it off and for that it's lucky.

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