CC Capsule: 1950 Dodge Coronet – There’s A New Curbside Classic In Town

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We were just heading out for our late-afternoon walk, when this black Coronet rolled by, with obvious damage to its right rear end. Uh-oh; and I was too slow to get a shot of it. Shoot! Then just a few block later, there it is, parked at the curb. And we got to hear its story.

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The youthful new owner’s mother and grandmother were just getting out after their first ride. The big, black Dodge just arrived from the east coast, a gift from his great aunt, who is quite a collector. She gave him this one, because it needs fixing. But it purrs purrfectly, and is in very good shape otherwise.

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I love Chrysler products from this era. They’re truly built like tanks, and the quality of materials, fit and finish is so high. And the seating position is absolutely superlative; like a tall throne, and with headroom to spare. All thanks to Chrysler President K.T. Keller, who spelled out his dictum about his cars’ tallness: “We build cars to sit in, not to pee over.”

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This Coronet features Chrysler’s Fluid Drive, called Gyro-Matic in Dodge-speak. There were several versions of Chrysler transmissions with fluid couplings, but this is the final edition, also known as the M6 Presto-Matic. It was a two-speed transmission with an underdrive unit, a clutch and the fluid coupling. The two main gears were Low and High range, selected with the clutch pushed in. Normally, one just used High Range, and somewhere above 13 mph, one lifted the gas pedal briefly and the underdrive dis-engaged, the result being top gear. Low Range was intended for steep hills and such. One could use it for a brisker start, but that’s not really what these cars were all about. The 230 cubic inch flathead six was all about low-speed torque, and well suited to this transmission.

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This is a large and stately car, with a 123.5″ wheelbase. But I couldn’t get any shots to do it justice, as the sun was dipping directly behind it. But I expect to see it again, and when it’s been repaired, we’ll set up a proper shoot. In the meantime, welcome to CC Land!