Curbside Classic: 1956 Dodge Custom Royal – Canadian, Eh?

(first posted 5/30/2017)       Many CC followers will be aware that in the 50s and 60s, Chrysler sold many cars in Canada as Dodges, when in fact they were mostly Plymouth underneath.The term, “Plodge” evolved as a moniker to describe the combined car.In the 70s, Darts and Dusters were very similar to one another except for grille and taillight treatments.

The practice of attaching Dodge parts onto Plymouth bodies is a practice that dated back to the 1930s.It was a way of trying to expand the customer base while saving some manufacturing costs.

The car featured here today was made and sold in Canada, however it is clearly not a Plodge, it is a Dodge throughout.

I photographed this car at a shop where it was having some work done.I had previously seen it a year earlier at the same location, at a time when it had a flat.The owner was not available, but the shop manager knew this to be a Canadian car.How is that, I said to myself, when all ‘56 Dodges were Plodges?

In 1956, Kingsway, Crusader, Regent, and Mayfair were the models names used by Dodge in Canada. 44,808 of these models combined were produced.It turns out also that some 7,000 of the Custom Royals were made in Canada.Mystery solved – alas, the Custom Royal was based on the USA version, and was an all Dodge design.It had a 303 cid V8 engine, and was made for the Canadian and US markets.The other Dodge models (Plodges) were made strictly in Canada for Canadian customers.The Virgil Exner – restyled body was referred to as “The 100 Million Dollar Look” for 1955, but was changed to “The Forward Look” for 1956, in advertising and brochures.The Custom Royal came in 2 door, 4 door, and convertible versions.

Imagine three neighbours in Toronto each go out and purchase a new Chrysler car – one gets a Dodge Custom Royal, one gets a Crusader, and one gets a 1956 Plymouth.They line them all up – the two Dodges look basically the same in the front view, (the trim bezels atop the grille bars are more pronounced on the Custom Royal) but the Dodge Regent and the Plymouth are twins in the back.Confusing or what?

The Dodge Royal


The Plymouth.


The Dodge Regent.


Also, the other difference between the Dodge and the Plodge becomes evident – the dash in the Plodge is the Plymouth dash.The Plodge dash is simpler, and features the round speaker grille on the passenger side.In 1955, there were pressure and water temperature gauges next to that speaker grille, but in 1956 they were changed to heater / defroster control buttons.Trying to achieve symmetry on the dashboard resulted in poor placement of these functions both times, from a driver’s perspective.You would have had to have taken your eyes off the road to see these while driving.

This is the Dodge dash.Not visible in the photo is the set of transmission push buttons to the left of the steering wheel.

My Dad had a 1955 Dodge Crusader, and it was the car I which I was first was brought home as a newborn.I only have photographs with people standing in front of the car, but I present these two to show it was originally a navy blue, but somewhere along the way it was repainted into a dark and light blue two tone.This was either to repair collision damage, or rust. I never got the story on which it was but I am guessing a collision of some kind.


My Dad’s car was undoubtedly a 230 cid 6 banger, and I recall the three on the tree manual transmission it had. I loved this car, and enjoyed riding in it every time my parents took me for a ride in it.

Our featured car seems to me to be still sporting its original paint, while exhibiting some severe surface rust.The original dealer sticker is still present – Halnan Motors which was in Long Branch, west of Toronto.

I am hopeful that this Custom Royal receives some more TLC which would include some fresh paint to keep this beautiful car in good shape for years to come.

Further reading and references:

CC 1955-1956 Dodge La Femme