1958 Dodge Royal
OK, here goes. I found this 1958 Dodge Royal sedan on Ebay in November 2005. The car looked very original so I contacted the dealership, Dressler Motors in Covington, VA. They told me the story of the car and sent me a lot of pictures and I won the auction. The car had been bought as a new car in late 1957 in Alamogordo by a man stationed there in the service. He retired about 5 years after getting the car and moved back to his home state of Virginia. He and his wife owned the car until they traded it to Dressler's in 1982 for a new Chrysler Cordoba. They kept the car in storage for over 20 years, getting it out once in a while to service it and use it for wedding pictures, etc. They decided to get rid of some of their old treasures including a Daytona Charger and other assorted Mopars starting in about 2003. I had the car transported back to New Mexico and it arrived on New Year's Day 2006.
The car had pretty good black paint and still ran fairly well. The biggest issue at the time was the original drum brakes. I had decided to save paint and body work until the end, as there was virtually no rust in the car! We started working on the brakes and driveline and moved on to a valve job due to a couple of sticking ones. Edwards Engine did the machine work and just before the reworked heads were done, we took a look at the bottom end and found a few scuffed bearings. I ended up doing a complete overhaul, and believe me, original-type parts for a 1958 are hard (and expensive!) to come by. We reworked the rest of the driveline and I thought that was enough work on it at the time.
The car had a (too) close encounter with a dually pickup in the service lot at Auge's which mangled the left front fender and front bumper. So much for waiting to do paint and body work! I ended up buying a parts car from the St. Louis area, as the whole car was less than what a used fender was going to cost. When we started removing the trim from the car, we noticed what looked like light and dark gray primer under where it had come off. I stopped the project until I found a man (Neil Vedder) in California who could decode the data plate of my car. He called me with the info that the car was originally a two-tone of iridescent silver over iridescent charcoal, and I decided to go back to the original paint scheme. Bill Schofield and the crew at the Auge body shop did the work in basecoat/clearcoat. I found a source for NOS original factory seat covers in Michigan and had the seats redone locally.
My car was the 77th (out of approximately 7500) Royal to be built for the 1958 model year. The drivetrain is a 325 Poly V8, original 4 barrel and dual exhaust with a cast iron Torqueflite and pushbutton shift. It still has the original radiator, carb, and still runs on a generator. I am the second owner of the car and it still only has about 59,300 original miles!
What I really love about this car is its originality and the fact that you hardly ever see one like it. It really stands out as something different in the 50's car world, much more distinctive than all the obligatory 55/56/57 Chevys out there. Most people don't know that in 1957, the Dodge (same bodystyle as my 58) won car of the year over the 57 Chevy!
Anyway, enough of my rambling. It will be an honor to have my car featured on the 2009 Moparfest t-shirt. Thanks again, Dave