Dodge Coronet


Part I


Introduction: The Dodge Coronet was Dodge's entry into the midsize segment. It first appeared in the mid 1950s, disappeared, and then reappeared in the mid 1960s. With R/T trim, and packing some serious power, the Coronet was a true muscle car sleeper.

1953 Dodge Coronet

Comments: The Dodge Coronet underwent a tremendous change for 1953, including all new styling, an updated, downsized chassis (in two sizes), and most importantly, the Red Ram V8, which initially came standard in the top-line Coronet. The 241.4 cid V8 was of a hemispherical head design, just like the Chrysler FirePower, only in a smaller size. With a two-barrel carb and regular gas burning 7.1:1 compression, the Red Ram produced 140 bhp - which was pretty good for 1953. The styling was rounder and smoother, and updated the old-looking 1949-52 body and finally integrated the rear fenders into the rest of the body. Two and four door sedans came on a 119 inch wheelbase, down 4.5 inches from 1952, and the two-door hardtop, convertible and two-door station wagons came on a 114 inch wheelbase, an inch shorter than the earlier low-priced Wayfarer models. It didn't take stock car racers very long to recognize that more power in a shorter, lighter body was good for racing, and Dodge scored six NASCAR Grand National wins in 1953. The Diplomat two-door hardtop was priced at $2,361 and 17,334 were sold. The Diplomat convertible cost $2,494 and 4,100 were sold. Both came with the Red Ram V8 standard and launched Dodge performance.

Production: Diplomat 2D Hardtop Coupe: 17,334. Diplomat 2D Convertible: 4,100.
Engines: 241.4 V8 140 bhp.
Performance: 241/140bhp: 0-60 in 16.1 sec.

1954 Dodge Coronet

Comments: The Dodge Coronet received a minor face lift for 1954, and horsepower on automatic transmission cars was increased to 150. A Dodge Coronet convertible was the pace car for the 1954 Indy 500 and 701 replicas were built.

Production: .
Engines: 241.4 V8 140 bhp (manual transmission). 241.4 V8 150 bhp (automatic transmission)

1955 Dodge Coronet

Comments: .

Production: .

1956 Dodge Coronet

Comments: The Dodge Coronet was used as the basis for Dodge's version of MOPAR performance. Unlike the other Chrysler super cars (Plymouth Fury, DeSoto Adventurer, and Chrysler 300B), the new Dodge Coronet D-500 was visually indistinguishable from normal Dodges upon which it was based. The only external clues were discreet, crossed checkered flags and "500" lettering on its lower rear deck. The D-500 option (named for the NASCAR requirement that 500 identical models must be produced in order to be raced) was also available on any Dodge model, including station wagons and two door sedans. The D-500 option included a 315 cid V8 with hemispherical heads (unlike other Dodge V8s which used polyspherical heads), a unique camshaft, valve lifters, pushrods, carburetor, ignition, and pistons. With a compression ratio of 9.25:1, four barrel Carter WCFB carburetor, and dual point distribution, peak horsepower was 260 bhp while torque was a solid 330 lb-ft. The D-500 came with a standard three-speed heavy duty manual transmission. The optional Powerflite push button automatic transmission had a kick down feature. A 3.73:1 rear axle ratio was standard, but several others were optional. The D-500 also received an upgraded suspension with very stiff front coil springs with heavy duty Oriflow shock absorbers, with the same valving specified for Dodge police cars, were mounted in the springs. Similar units were used in the rear. A sturdy 0.8125 inch high rate stabilizer bar was also installed. Overall height of the D-500 was 1.5 inches lower than its standard Dodge counterpart. The D-500 came standard with 15x5.5 inch wheels with 7.60x15 inch tubeless tires. Optional were heavy duty 15x6.5 inch wheels. DeSoto/Chrysler 12 inch diameter drum brakes were used in the D-500, providing a total effective bracking area of 251 square inches, compared to 173.5 square inches on regular Dodges.
An even hotter version of the D-500, the D-550-1 was intended primarily for NASCAR competition. The D-550-1 had an even stiffer suspension than the D-500. Under the hood, the engine received larger valves (about 18% larger), a full-race cam shaft, and a double log intake manifold that used two four barrel Carter WCFB carbs. This all added up to 285 bhp.

Production: .
Engines: D-500: 315 Hemi V8 260 bhp @ 4800 rpm, 330 lb-ft @ 3000 rpm. D-550-1: 315 Hemi V8 285 bhp.
Performance: 315/260: 0-60 in 8.8 seconds.

1957 Dodge Coronet

Comments: 1957 saw the debut of the new D-501, which replaced the D-500 from the year before as the top Coronet. The D-501 received Chrysler's proven 354 cid Hemi V8, which were actually left over engines from the 1956 Chrysler 300B production. Camshafts from the 1957 Chrysler 392 cid engines were installed in the 354 V8s for added kick. Topped with a pair of Carter four barrel carbs and sporting a 10.0:1 compression ratio, the new engine put out 340 bhp. Other changes included the addition of the Torsion-Aire Ride (torsion bar) front suspension and a heavy duty suspension with heavy duty shock absorbers and a heavy duty leaf sprung rear. A 3.73:1 rear axle was standard with the three-speed manual transmission, but automatic cars received a 3.18:1 rear axle. There were 13 optional rear axles available, ranging from 2.92:1 through 6.17:1. The D-501 received 7.60x15 tires wrapped around 15x8 inch wheels. Brakes were impressive 12 inch diameter drums. Only 101 D-501s were produced.

Production: D-501: 101.
Engines: D-501: 354 Hemi V8 340 bhp @ 5200 rpm.
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