Curtis Perry has posted another superb night-time shot taken in Portland, Oregon. It’s getting to the point where quite few post-war American cars haven’t yet had their 15 minutes of fame at CC. The 1956 Dodge is one of them, perhaps somewhat oddly. But then these cars never had much profile back in the day. When one thinks “1956”, Chevy and Ford rather dominate the mental images, along with perhaps Chrysler. But a Dodge?
These Dodges were enjoying the second year of Virgil Exner’s “The 100 Million Dollar Look” (based on Chysler’s big investment in the all-new 1955 cars). And it was worth the investment, as Dodge sales almost doubled in 1955. The ’56s were off a bit, but then so was everyone else after a industry record-breaking year in 1955. But what’s more telling is that Dodge sales were less than half of Plymouth sales, as Dodge was still positioned a genuine notch above. This Coronet series was the lowest trim level for Dodge; no strippers here. That would come soon enough, though.
These were big cars, riding on a 120″ wheelbase. The wheelbase extension over the shorter Plymouth is very apparent in the gap between the rear door, which was shared with Plymouth, and the rear wheel opening. It’s what Pontiac did with its extensions to its B-Body for years.
And 1956 was the year that Chrysler’s Magic Touch push-button controls for the automatic PowerFlite transmission appeared. That fad didn’t even last ten years.
Under the hood, in addition to the miserly 230 inch “Get Away” flathead six, there were 270 and 315 inch versions of Dodge’s “Red Ram”V8s. These were from the first generation “polyshphere” V8s, at a time when Dodge and Plymouth still built their own distinct versions of V8 engines, creating a bewildering array of engines to keep straight. These are not directly related to the later 318 “Poly” A Series, nor the “B” engines. They are based on the first generation small hemi engines, reconfigured with polyspheric heads (single rocker arm”). Power ranged from 189 hp for the 270, and up to 260 hp for the top “Super Red Ram” 315 inch version.