Cohort member Eric Clem posted this gigantic mouse-grey 1963 Dodge Custom 880 recently and as a lover of big Mopars, I couldn’t help but share it. For those of you who were tiring of Colt fever, this is the perfect antidote.
There are shades of the company’s new-found conservatism in this design, but it looks a hell of a lot better than this similar vintage New Yorker. Noses didn’t come any cleaner than this, and the rather dented example here really helps remind me that these were workaday cars. The sight of a pristine example would cause me to overlook such a fact.
This model ran from ’62-’64; the circular taillights mark it as a ’63. The lenses took up the entire space occupied by these chrome surrounds the prior year, and the following year’s model was given a more horizontal treatment, giving a slight preview of the all-new ’65s.
For all this car’s simplicity, the grille and hood ornament do make for some pleasing decoration, as do those fender mounted mirrors.
Where is this car located? The Pacific Northwest, of course! What better car to prowl around the slick pavement of Washington state than this solid old Dodge?
More on the Custom 880 HERE.
A Sixty Two Chrysler Newport from the cowl back with a Dodge instrument panel and unique tail lamps. Same 361, 727 combo with a Dodge engineered clip to fit the body lines. The license plate and rear bumper chrome trim on this Dodge was standard on Chrysler Saratoga models which was, I believe only sold in Canada It’s different and I like it. These were never sold in Canada as new vehicles although I saw one in Alberta a few years back
In actuality. this mid-year for ’62 “big” Dodge using the ’61 Polar front clip and Chrysler Newport from the “A” pillar back, was really a substitute for:
a: A real “full size” Dodge missing upon ’62MY intro time . .
b: The Desoto.
Interior patterns, dash, hardware, the 361 2bbl. was all 1961 Desoto.
My Grandmother had a ’64 Custom 880; turd brown with matching turd brown interior. They picked us up from the airport in St. Louis and I’d wolfed down a whole bag of M&M’s. I felt carsick, so I sat in back with her and I barfed all over her lap and onto the floor. The car was a few months new at the time. Said Grandma was not pleased.
Disagree. This looks like its trying too hard to paste mid-60s cues on an early 60s body. The 63 New Yorker looks simultaneously clean and unique, and somehow more mid-70s (like it skipped the whole angular, Engel period of car design)
Actually, more like a 1963 front end on a 1957 body, minus the fins.
I was very perplexed when these came out. I was a just a kid, but it was totally obvious what Dodge was doing, and I couldn’t figure out why.
Some friends of ours bought a 880 wagon; it had a V8 and three on the floor. That perplexed me too. Why was Dodge building an eight-passenger wagon with a front bench seat and a floor shifter, something straight out of the 1930s. That one really threw me.
I didn’t realize until later that all Mopars during the push-button automatic era had floor shifters for the manuals. A pretty strange trade-off.
Might be a strange trade off, but it’s my favorite solution. I don’t understand why cars sold only with an automatic still have shifters. They take up console space and serve no real purpose. Buttons or a knob, combined with paddles for manual shifting are, IMO, the way to go for automatics.
I prefer manuals but if the car has an auto, I want it out of the way. If they do that, they could give you plenty of center console space for cupholders and smartphones and such without the console being so massive.
The new Lincoln MK – uh – the Fusion one – is using dash-mounted pushbuttons for gear selection. I think they are cool as hell, let’s see if everyone else thinks so. I had a couple of pushbutton Mopars and liked them, although I will admit that they took a bit of getting used to. Like you, I see no reason in 2014 for a big clunky lever to operate the electrical switch that tells the transmission what to do.
I like the idea of pushbuttons and think the MKZ interior looks very cool, but there’s something to be said for a big clunky lever with a mechanical feel to it that inspires a little more confidence when trying to make quick, tight maneuvers. I’ve never actually driven a car with buttons, but I imagine that’s gotta be the downside to it. I also refuse to give up my Blackberry because I don’t get how anyone could type cleanly on a touchscreen either, so what do I know?
I do hope they catch on again, though – just for the sake of something different. Fiat also has them in the 500e:
Not absolutely sure of that. I have very clear memories as a child of riding with my father as he took a ’57 or ’58 DeSoto out for an appraisal drive at the dealership. It definitely had three on the three. I remember it because at that point (I’m guessing 1962, the car was a beater, and the low-line model) I was convinced that ALL Chrysler products came with pushbutton transmissions.
Yes; when I said that all Mopars during the push-button automatic era had floor shifters for the manuals. I should have qualified that a bit, meaning the big Mopars (Chrysler and this Dodge 880 from ’60-’64), as well of course the ’60-’62 Valiant/Lancer.
Yes even the Valiants had floor shift the move to tree shift I regard as a retrograde step, I never have liked them. I assumed it was more difficult to do tree shift with the RHD conversion remembering my Cornbinder that had the shift neatly aligned with the open quarter light window so as to skin your knuckles on going for 2nd
The Mopar floor shifters (at least in the big cars) was due to the astro-dome instrument panel of the 60 Chrysler that could not accommodate the column shift. Other than the 60-64 big Chrysler-DeSoto body (and I believe the early Valiant) there were several column-shifted 3 speeds. The 62-64 Plymouth/Dodge was one.
I also think this is the case. Manual transmissions were pretty rare at this point on full size Mopar cars, so you don’t get to see the floor nor column “tree” manual shift on many cars, but I think still the “tree” was more common except on models like the ’60-62 Chrysler with Astrodome…I think they even had unique steering columns which makes finding a replacement a challenge for those cars.
One of my favorite movies “Awakenings” has a neat scene where Robin Williams is backing up his car (think it is a ’64 Dodge B Body Polara) which initially you see it has pushbutton transmission, but in another scene you see him moving the column mount automatic transmission quadrant into reverse…(through the window, you see him move the arm of the lever before backing the car up from his parking space at the hospital). I’ve often wondered if the car changed from a ’64 to a ’65 (which had the automatic quadrant on the column of course) midway during filming…either year is possible, since the story takes place years later in ’69. I have to add that I like the movie for other reasons than just the automotive content though!
Much as I like the ’63 Chryslers, I’m a fan of the Dodge 880, though I realize it was a stopgap when the ’62 Dodge and Plymouth was downsized to “midsize” (which I also like). To me it seems almost like what DeSoto would have been had it been continued beyond ’61, but I really like the restyled ’64 880 models (except the wagons, which continued the ’61 styling). I think it is a combination of the changing rear roofline on the ’64 (the ’61-’63 seemed to have the original ’58 rear roofline) and the updated instrument panel in ’64 (the ’61-63 instrument panel reminds me of the ’61 DeSoto panel…maybe that’s why I think of it kind of like a DeSoto they stopped making in ’63 or maybe ’64 rather than the “real” DeSoto that ended with ’61 model. I think of the ’65 880 as a Dodge Polara (which went from midsized to full sized that year)..wonder why they had both 880 and Polara that year?
“Awakenings”, a good movie, with some “car goofs anachronisms” like the cameo of a 1972 Impala for a movie set in 1969. http://www.imcdb.org/vehicle.php?id=469239
You’re not the only one wondering what DeSoto would had been if it had survived to the 1960s as well as the 1970s and even the 1980s. Could DeSoto got a B-body variant as well as A and E-body models? How a Fuselage DeSoto would had look? The Cordoba could had been launched as a DeSoto instead and there might be a K-car DeSoto. ^^;
IIRC the Rambler American “X-ray” booklets for 60/61 compared the American’s column manual shift as an advantage over the “old-fashioned” floor manual shift on the Valiant, Corvair and VW. As a kid who was beginning to love all shifters, manual or automatic, on the floor and who was very excited about the floor shifts on the new 61 Starfire and Impala SS, I didn’t agree.
Well, the floor shifts on the sporty cars then were madly cool, what with their bucket seats and console. A three-row wagon with bench seats? Not so cool.
But maybe somewhat cool on a little Valiant sedan?
Today? Yes. In 1960; as a kid, it seemed quite odd. If it had bucket seats and a four speed, it would have been very cool, though.
I assume there were never any column shift Corvairs because running that shift linkage all the way to the back of the car would have been really sloppy.
You’re correct. The Powergilde’s quadrant was on the dashboard, and all manuals had a floor shift.
By the way – surprisingly enough, Tatra T603 had both rear engine – and a column shifter. Never realized how they did it, though, and the linkage should have been sloppy indeed.
Actually the 56-59 Mopar cars with manual transmissions had column shifters. I’m not sure about the 60-61 years, but my 1962 Chrysler Newport did have the floor shifter.
Sure would love to see an article on/pics of your 62 Newport. As you can see from my posts above, I’ve always been fascinated by the combination of bench seat/floor shifter in these cars.
IMO, the New Yorker seems like the more progressive design. The ’63 New Yorker was still chunky, but it’s looks draw comparisons with more modern cars. It’s a huge improvement on the ’62. Whereas, you can see the remnants of late fifties design in this Dodge. I find the roof and rear quarters look especially dated on the Custom 880. The nose, however clean, doesn’t match the rest of the car. The front and rear view especially, look like two different cars. The rear bumper looks straight out of 1957.
I agree, the ’63 is much better.
Cut and paste with haste, ’61 Dodge/Chrysler styling and parts . . . in fact, the ’62 Chrysler borrowed the rear bumper from the ’61 Dodge Polara . . .
I tried to get my father to buy the Chrysler version of this instead of an Olds 88 (1963) he scorned the notion. I still think I was right.
Hey, I know that car! I’ve taken pictures of it before, and I even posted one or two to the Cohort, but I wasn’t able to get a clear shot of the front. Thank you, Mr. Clem. I can’t cover Seattle all by myself.
One thing that made me a bit sad when I saw this same car a few months ago was the cracked windshield. Where the heck is the owner going to get a replacement?
I know guys who handcrafted a windshield for a 1959 Plymouth Belvedere ) the owner couldn’t find a replacement even in the US…
A little over a year ago (January 2013) I was out running some errands on a Saturday morning. While driving through downtown, I spotted this out of the corner of my eye. I had to turn around and go get some pictures. My first thought: What is this doing out in January in Wisconsin? I haven’t seen it since, even in nice weather.
Very nice .
The forgotten Chrysler products .
Actually, more like a 1963 front end on a 1957 body, minus the fins.
I know this comment was not meant as a compliment to the 880’s styling, but it’s probably the reason I like them so much. IMO, over the top accoutrements got the better of many a late 50s car with an otherwise attractive figure. I often wish I could just smooth out and tone down some cars from that era a bit when looking at them (though I do love that styling, tacky as it is). And that’s pretty much exactly what this Dodge is. I never really gave any thought to how dated they must’ve looked when new, it’s only ever seemed like a particularly clean and conservative design to me. It’s easy to forget how different 1957 and 1963 were, not having lived through them.
I’d gladly take a ’63 New Yorker to go along with mine, though!
That’s my point: after the all-new ’62 Dodge and Plymouth cars (odd as they were), it seemed rather peculiar to see the 880 come along with that old Chrysler body. I struggled to figure out the logic at the time….
The 880 was tooled up on the cheap as potential Dodge buyers in the “bigger cars means a better value” era were deserting in droves to Pontiac . . . . hard to compete in the low-middle price field of 1962 when your biggest car only has a 116″ wheelbase . . . . against 119″ and 124″ Pontiacs . . . hence the 880 series (on a more proper 122″ wheelbase). Even the CHP went to Chrysler for ’62 to get a proper 122″ car to meet their needs (the Dodge 880 was n/a when California went shopping for cop cars . . . )
Ref: The 1962 Chrysler Newport Enforcer.
The first thing I did with my 70 C10 three on tree shift was convert to floor. Later when that trans wore out a 4 speed Saginaw was a direct bolt in. Made all the world difference in towing up the Grapevine! The 3 speed was like a four speed with 3rd gear missing. Also changed a 74 Duster to floor shift, it was a big improvement over the sloppy column linkage. Both shifters when on the column jammed more then once, and to me shifting on the column just never “felt right”. But I guess back in the 50’s to early 70’s it was considered by most an improvement. Better for a middle seat passenger, I guess. I agree with Paul, that Dodge looks like mid 50’s A to C pillar with early 60’s front and rear clips.
Always hated the big gap between 2nd and 3rd on three speeds. When I converted my old Ford truck to overdrive, having that 2 Hi gear was a huge and unexpected boon, the” third gear” that had always been missing.
That’s what I like about the style; you have the curvy ’50s-esque center section, without the bizarre front and rear clips to ruin everything. I think this is quite a gorgeous car, but I might be in the minority.
Arrrgh! I just spent this morning doing a capsule of this car! That’s life in the cohort.
the one thing I noticed was that they fixed the front in 63, the rear in 64, and came up with a new body in 65, sort of like what they did to the full-size 62’s.
It’s good to check the Posts Calendar before starting a new one. Sorry.
Jana, just schedule it a month or two from now. We’ve revisited the same cars before; I’ve done CCs on both 1978 and 1979 Pontiac Bonnevilles.
Good idea, both of you.
I took a quite different approach than Perry, so I think that re-scheduling it in the future would
Paul, I did look, just did not make the connection to gray mouse.
It’s not really a mouse-y car, but the color couldn’t let me think of anything else.
I’d be curious to know what tack you took.
It’s back there in the Drafts 🙂
I used to see a Dodge like this from the USAF base near my Grandparents in the mid 60s.Good looking car but not as nice as the 63 Fords.
The 1960 Chrysler-DeSoto was actually an all-new car, not a rehash of the 57-59. The 60 model was the first year of the new Unibody Mopars.
I am not sure that anyone has ever built a body shell that went through as many variations as this one (with the exception of the 53 Studebakers, of course). Think of the 60-61 Chrysler, the 62 Chrysler, the 63-64 Chrysler, and the 62-64 Dodge 880. I agree with Sean Cornelis in that by 64 particularly, the 880 finally got all of the proportions and details right, in a way that put the car’s 1960 body in its very best light.
With Virgil Exner still in charge of the 63 models, I can only imagine how much he must have hated this one. I wonder if the super clean treatment on the front of this one was his way of tossing off the most boring design he could possibly think of. I don’t think there is a less Exner-ish car that came out of Chrysler during his era.
All new? Certainly not the windshield 🙂
And a few other things too, I suspect. Certainly the drive trains, and the front suspension. The wheelbase and track measurements on the BOF and unibody cars is the same, so maybe not a totally a clean-sheet affair.
I suspect they mitigated the challenges of going unibody by keeping a lot of the proven components the same, which caught them out with a wrap-around windshield when the competition was switching back to straighter profiles.
That, plus the wrap-around rear windows on these cars, and the heavy upper door frames really dated this body fast. Although within Chrysler, they probably thought they were being forward thinking, having never succumbed (at least for their cars) to upright or dogleg A pillars.
I think a significant reason for the 880 was not to lose the California Highway Patrol contract (which influenced the buys of many other departments) to Pontiac or Oldsmobile. At the time, only 122 inch wheelbase cars fit the spec, so the downsized Dodge was out of the bidding. In ’62 a more expensive Chrysler Newport “Enforcer” was bid, but the cheaper and more conservative looking Dodge 880 was the solution in ’63. Allpar.com has the history.
I always figured the 880 was a general desperation move thanks to the ’62 downsizing debacle but keeping the police contracts certainly would have been a consideration.
Regardless, I like the 880. Not because of anything special in terms of style or engineering, but because it so clearly exemplified the dysfunctional Chrysler management style which only changed when they were on the brink and Iacocca was brought in.
Plus, it’s such a rare oddball. When spotted, most seem to think it’s some sort of old Rambler which it does, in fact, resemble.
I owned one of these for a short time in the mid-seventies. As I recall, I bought it for $100. The back glass was broken out, and the windshield was severely cracked. I found used ones for $25 each, and had them replaced for $50. I don’t think I did much to it beyond that, it was a good, solid, 10 year old car. It was very average. White sedan with a tan interior, 361, torqueflite, power steering and brakes, radio. I’ve always liked full-sized Chrysler products, especially that era. It had a back seat big enough to have a party in. I didn’t keep it long as I was in the used car business, and did not keep anything very long. Simpler days….
There was so much carryover from ’57 like Paul was saying. There was also a lot of sharing between the various brands and even body styles. Here is a ’63 or ’64 Chrysler New Yorker wagon that I shot in a handicapped spot. Same windshield and side glass as the Dodge 4-door.
I still remember how surprised I was when I discovered that the inside door panels from a 300K would fit my 1962 Newport without alteration. The inside rear quarter panels would have fit too, except for the different quarter window shape.
Although the bucket seats in the 300K were very similar to those in a 300L, bucket seats from 1963 Chryslers would interchange with those in 1963-66 Valiants and Darts, although certainly the trim was nicer on the Chrysler pieces. The space between these relatively narrow seats in a Chrysler was filled with either a console or an extra cushion.
That Honda Civic driver is a crappy parker, good thing the street is not all that narrow. I feel like the Nissan Armada is going to be a future Curbside Classic since it has that quirky early 21st Century Nissan styling, has not been updated much in the past decade, and I have a feeling there are not going to be many left in 20-30 years.
Those 1963 taillights are a mashup of 1962 Chrysler tailfin-nubs with an overlay of the hugely popular 1960 Dodge Dart’s big round brake and backup lamps, with a little Polara thrown in.