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Home : Scrapbook : Roamin Angel Corner Index : 1962 Dodge Polara 500

1962 Dodge PolaraWhen Greg and Jeanne M’s daughter Elizabeth needed to do a senior project in 1998, she hit upon the idea of rebuilding her father’s 1962 Dodge Polara 500. It had a 413 CID engine and Torqueflite auto trans as well as power steering and brakes. When Greg had bought it from the original owners in 1966, it had 24,000 miles on the odometer. Being a Mopar guy, Greg enjoyed shutting down “Bow-Ties” (Chevies) and “Blue Ovals” (Fords) on the track in the B/SA class, turning 101.0 MPH in 13.01 seconds on the quarter mile. And that with a 2.76:1 rear end. He also is rumored to have held his own cruising on legendary Van Nuys Blvd. in SoCal back in the days when Bob’s Big Boy was his favorite haunt. Eventually it became the family car, even pulling a travel trailer. But the 225,000 hard miles Greg and family put on the clock finally took its toll and Greg parked the Dodge in storage. He has a number of Mopars from the ‘Thirties through the ‘Sixties, so it sat for years before it became his daughter’s project. Sitting was not good for the upholstery and paint, so there was a lot to do to bring the Polara back to life. Together, Greg and Elizabeth overhauled the engine and trans, installed new upholstery and repainted it in the original Shell Beige with Vermillion Red accent stripes. Since braking was a problem for Mopars of the era, Greg looked around for a solution without greatly altering the car. He found that a disc brake set up from a 1973 Dodge Challenger bolted right up and greatly improved stopping power. The only other modification they did was to install an electronic ignition. During the rebuild, Greg did find one disadvantage to the ‘62 Dodge Polara: it’s rarity. It has a styling that is quite unique and not very well received. Plus Dodge jumped the gun on downsizing, introducing their "New Lean Breed" while big, heavy iron was still popular with car buyers. As a result, less than 13,000 were sold. With so few sold that year, reproduction parts are almost impossible to find. But Greg was able to find most of what they needed to complete Elizabeth’s project and they got the Polara back on the road. Now Greg occasionally takes the Polara for a cruise, enjoying the throaty rumble of its big-block engine. There are still unfinished details on the car, which Greg plans to complete some day. Since Greg is not as young as when he used to cruise in SoCal, you might say this is now his senior project.

1962 Dodge Polara

Greg says that. “You either love the design or hate the design” of the ‘62 Dodge. Unfortunately for Dodge, most buyers were of the latter mindset. The offset headlights and bulges in the side panels were simply not popular.

Although this 413 is not the dual-quad 415 HP fire-breather Max Wedge of the Beach Boy’s song “Shut Down,” it does pump out a very respectable 365 HP.

The Polara 500 came with sporty bucket seats, but still used an awkward push-button shifter on the dash, long since abandoned by other car makers. Console shifters became available in 1964 and the push-button was dropped for all models in 1965.

2010 © Ron Cherry

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