Through out the history of the Chrysler Corporation, Dodge Coronet has a very interesting story. This car was one of the best cars that headlined late 1940’s to early 1950’s. The model name took almost five-year vacation then launched as a mid-sized car in mid 60’s representing the lowest trim in its class during when it was forced to take a back seat to the first generation Dodge Charger. Even though released as an entry level family car, it is widely known for being a police car usually used by State and Country Governments. Coronet had its own run during the muscle car wars in the late 60’s.
Relive the birth of this budget style muscle car, wander through its midlife crisis and talk about its most extraordinary and dominant years in muscle cars industry.
The Birth of the Coronet
Dodge Coronet was built by Chrysler Corporation for more than twenty years. It was a full-sized car launched in 1949 and represented the top of Dodge line up. The brand new post World War II production model featured an innovated foot pedal fluid drive transmission and higher trim level than the company usually does.
This brand new model was available in a two-door coupe and four-door hardtop sedan. Dodge also built a station wagon, an eight-passenger Coronet and riding on top of a stretched wheelbase was a four-door limousine. This car has an only few body style improvements through 1952 but in 1953 they launched the second generation with a more improved power train.
They changed the name of GyroMatic fluid transmission to Gyro Torque Drive before mounting it to the new 241 CID V-8.
The new engine with the hemispherical head design had an improved 150 HP that put the 105 HP Flathead of the past six years far behind. It was one of the most powerful cars in its class because of the combined new engine and transmission with a top speed of over 100 mph.
With the uninspired launch of the first Charger, in 1968, Chrysler released a major redesigned second generation Dodge Charger. At the same time, the 1966 Dodge Coronet 440 without fastback started shipping with an available 383 CID big-block V-8.
The Muscle car on a budget
Finding a Cornet with a 426 Hemi is like finding a needle on a haystack because in 1967, Chrysler has decided that the elephant motor would only be available on its designated muscle car line up. They allowed the special order for a short time only and the estimated built was only around 100 units. The Coronet took on much of the Charger’s sheet metal styling in 1968, this included the unique double forward facing pair of hood scoops and small round marker lights on front fenders. The 1968 model was also known for the Super Bee package.
From 1968 to 1970 they based the Super Bee cars on the Coronet. These are basically Dodge’s version of the Plymouth Road Runner. This was considered to be Dodge’s low budget car with the price of around $3000.
Most unique Coronet was manufactured in 1970 because Super Bee received a unique dual over grille and a ram charger center hood scoop. In spite of the fresh look, the sales tanked and the following year saw the departure of Coronet as a muscle car.
The 6th Generation of Dodge Coronet
Coronet was only available as a four-door sedan or station wagon in 1971. The third generation Dodge Charger carried the Mopar flag to the finish line as the muscle car wars came to a hasty end while Dodge Coronet became more popular choice with government fleets.
The car became the pursuit vehicle instead of the muscle car being chased. They retired the name in 1976 in favor of Dodge Monaco, another model of choice by local and State law departments.