Thursday, July 7, 2016

Almost mint condition grocery getter from 47 years ago

I was riding my bike out to the Rockaways when I passed this anomaly parked at a dealership:
How? Why? Who knows but this is certainly a 1969 Dodge Coronet 440 in plain-ass White. How it survived in this condition is a true mystery that must have included a garage and a little old lady. This was the year that the iconic General Lee Dodge Charger of The Dukes of Hazzard fame was built. The same company made the Super Bee and Coronet RT performance models. Yet somebody went into the Dodge dealership in '69 and shook their head no to every nicety, probably clutching an ad with the base price listed on it.
The front and rear styling are identical to its fire breathing siblings but otherwise this is the classic grocery getter 4 door. I'm always more fascinated to discover a well preserved basic classic that wouldn't be worth restoring financially than a high dollar model. You can turn on the Barret Jackson auction and see Chargers and Super Bees cross the block all day long but how often do you see this?
That single strip of chrome on the lower body means that this is the 440 model. Confusingly this does not mean the engine is a 440. In fact you couldn't get a 440 V8 in this trim level; you would need to order an R/T for that. Chances are excellent that this came with the 318 V8 or even the base 225 Slant-6, maybe with a three-on-the-tree.
The 440 sat below the Coronet 500 and above the base model Deluxe in the hierarchy. The lowly Deluxe had no side chrome whatsoever and could be had with black rubber mats instead of carpet, and no heater installed if you were really cheap.
Those little objects on top of the fenders above the headlights contain fiber optic cables that go to the turn signals so the driver can see when the bulb needs replacing.
Too bad somebody smashed the window and scuffed up the rear quarter because otherwise this car looks to be in mint original condition. Those dog dish hubcaps add to the frugality. Many of these 4 doors were fleet vehicles that lived brutal lives as taxis and police cars.
The taillight treatment can help identify the trim level too; the 500 would have had three large rectangular openings with the center one being a reflector that looked like the taillights. On this ride the inboard 2 lenses are reverse lights.
It might seem strange to have a raised line running down the center of the trunk lid but it was to add rigidity to what was basically a huge flat sheet of metal.
I was genuinely shocked to see this parked at a dealership with 69 in the window like that was the sort of thing they sell every day. Months later I saw this same car parked in front of a garage elsewhere in Brooklyn so somebody took it home. I myself would be proud to lean back over the front seat and manually crank down the back windows for a cruise in this beast. Hopefully since it made it this far it will continue to be loved and cared for.

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