(first posted 6/28/2013. Updated 5/19/2019) Watching Dodge (and Plymouth) claw their way back to normalcy after their departure into a brave new world in 1962. Yes, that’s more normal; you’re almost there. Just a little more… The first step was of course in 1963, when the bodies were squared off some and the sides cleaned up, but the Dodge front end still had a healthy dollop of Exneritis.
It’s important to note that these 1963 cars, along with all of the ’63 Chryslers, were done under Exner’s watch (with a firm boot in his rear by Lynn Townsend, who was not a fan). And that they were finished and production-ready when Elwood Engel showed up after Townsend fired Exner in November of 1961. Engel is quoted as saying “These are good-looking cars. What’s the big deal?” The only known change to these cars were an extra trim piece to be added at the outside edge of the Dodge grille, but production problems nixed them in the end anyway. It showed that Exner was quite capable of doing conventional cars, when forced to.
The ’63’s revised body from the cowl back would be used with little change through 1965, as a Coronet in that final year. But the front end wouldn’t be Engelized until 1964, making it look way to normal, as in rather dull.
Unlike the ’63 Plymouth, the ’63 Dodge got a 3″ wheelbase stretch, from 116″ to 119″, presumably to give it a wee bit of more gravitas. That stretch is very evident in the area between the rear of the door and the front of the wheel opening. In 1965, the wheelbase was reduced by 4″ to give the Coronet and Plymouth Belvedere 115″ a wheelbase. As if it really mattered.