Dodge Polara

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Dodge Polara
Dodge Polara Special (Orange Julep '10).jpg
1972 Dodge Polara 4-Door Sedan
ManufacturerDodge (Chrysler)
Body and chassis
LayoutFR layout

The Dodge Polara is an automobile introduced in the United States for the 1960 model year as Dodge's top-of-the-line full-size car; after the introduction of the Dodge Custom 880 in 1962, the Polara nameplate designated a step below the full sized best trimmed Dodge model; the Polara that year had been downsized to what was in effect intermediate, or mid-size status. In its various forms, the Polara name was used by Dodge until 1973, when its position in Dodge's line-up was replaced by the Dodge Monaco. The name Polara is a reference to the Polaris star, in a marketing attempt to appeal to the excitement surrounding the Space Race during the early 1960s. The Polara was a competitor to the Ford Galaxie 500 and the Chevrolet Impala.

1960 marked the first year that all Chrysler models, save the Imperial, used unibody construction.


First generation
1960 Dodge Polara (4828378171).jpg
1960 Dodge Polara 4-Door hardtop
AssemblyDodge Main Factory, Hamtramck, MI, United States
Body and chassis
Body style4-door sedan
4-door wagon
2-door convertible
2-door hardtop
4-door hardtop
4-door hardtop wagon
RelatedDodge Dart
Dodge Matador
Plymouth Belvedere
Transmission2-speed automatic
3-speed manual
Wheelbase116 in (2,946.4 mm)[1]
Length217 in (5,512 mm)[1]

The 1960 Polara and other full-sized Dodges featured styling cues carried over from 1959 models, itself an evolution of Virgil Exner's "Forward Look" cars introduced in 1957. The top-of-the line Polara and Dodge Matador continued to ride on the 122-inch (3,099 mm) wheelbase of their predecessors, while a new line-up of still full-sized Dodge Darts rode on a shorter 118-inch (2,997 mm) wheelbase. The Polara was available as a 2-door convertible, 2-door hardtop, 4-door hardtop sedan, 4-door hardtop station wagon, and conventional (pillared) 4-door sedan.

Like these cars, both 1960 full-sized Dodges continued with the make's styling hallmarks of stacked "jet pod" tail lights, however, the size of the lights was greatly increased compared to the previous year's lamps, with the lower lights set into the rear bumper. The design also incorporated Dodge's trademark shortened tail fins, which, on the Polara, included small vertical tail light lenses placed on the vertical surface at the back of the fin; again, the purpose of the shortened fin was meant to exaggerate the length of the "jet pods" holding the tail lights.

The fins on Darts were shorter both in length and height because unlike the full sized Dodge's, the Polara and Matador, the Darts were based on the Plymouth and used much Plymouth sheet metal forms and the Plymouth rear door. The Plymouth rear door did not have any part of the fin whereas on the full sized Dodges the fin actually started on the rear door (on the 4-doors) and continued back from there. This allowed the fin to start sooner, on the door, and end sooner, relative to the tip of the round tail light and still appear as long or longer than on the Dart. The net effect was that the fins on the Dart look stunted whereas on the Polara and Matador the fins appear in proper proportion to the rest of the car. Up front, the car featured a small grille consisting of eight stacks of anodized aluminum rectangles nested in a massive (and complex) chrome front bumper assembly. As the top model in the line-up, the Polara featured better interior fabrics and trim treatments. Polaras also received more trim on the outside of the car, most notably a chrome stone guard aft of the rear wheel housings, a full-length chrome spear, and a wide chrome base to the chrome spear atop the headlight housings.

1961 Dodge Polara sedan

For 1961, Dodge dropped the Matador, leaving the Polara as the sole "senior" Dodge model. Darts on the shorter wheelbase continued. For 1961, Exner's styling department reversed the car's fins, making them taller as they flowed toward the rear window. As the fins sloped towards the rear of the car, they cut slightly towards the center (to allow the single tail light housing on each side) of the rear of the vehicle, wrapping downward and then back along the side fender to form a C-shaped line accentuated in chrome. The overall effect made the rear of the car seem to "pucker" from the angles the design created. Up front, the massive bumper treatments that had been a Dodge hallmark since 1957 were replaced with a simple bar design, above which was a massive concave grille shared with the Dodge Dart.

The 1961 styling overhaul of the Dodge line-up was different from anything else on the US market at that time (save the 1961 Plymouth, which was equally unique in its styling) and consumers voted on the 1961 restyle with their car-shopping dollars. Sales of fullsize Dodges plunged to their lowest levels since the firms founding in 1914, with only 14,032 units produced in the United States. For the second straight year, the make was carried by the Dart which saw sales of 142,000 units for the year. Total Dodge sales for 1961 were down 53% compared to 1960, dropping the make from sixth in the American market to ninth place.


Second generation
1964 Dodge Polara 500 conv front.jpg
1964 Dodge Polara 500 Convertible
AssemblyDodge Main Factory, Hamtramck, MI, United States
Body and chassis
Body style2-door sedan (1963–64)
4-door sedan (1963–64)
4-door wagon (1963–64)
2-door convertible (1962–64)
2-door hardtop (1962–64)
4-door hardtop (1962–64)
Transmission2-speed automatic
3-speed manual
Wheelbase1962: 116 in (2,946.4 mm)
1963–64: 119 in (3,022.6 mm)

All Dodge models were given a smaller, lighter, sculpted body with a 116-inch (2,946 mm) wheelbase for 1962. This was the first Chrysler B-Body. This move came after Chrysler's president overheard and misunderstood Chevrolet chief Ed Cole to have said Chevrolet's largest cars would be downsized for 1962. Chrysler designers were forced to take the planned 1962 Dodge full-size line and shorten the design to fit a more compact wheelbase in a last-minute effort to compete with what was supposed to be a smaller new Chevrolet.[2] However, Chevrolet in fact offered a range of truly full-size cars for 1962, and Dodge and Plymouth alike were stuck with smaller cars the public and motoring press found stylistically awkward. The new Dodge models were sized closer to Ford's new intermediate Fairlane than to Ford's or GM's full-size models.

Quickly realizing the critical mistake they had made, Dodge hurriedly put together a new full-size car using the front end from the 1961 Dodge Polara and the body from the 1962 Chrysler. This new full-size model was known as the Custom 880, and became Dodge's top-of-the-line model when it was introduced on January 21, 1962. In 1963 a lower specification version was offered, known simply the Dodge 880. A/C was $455.[3]

Among the B-Bodied 1962 Dodges was a bucket-seated sporty model called the Polara 500. It was available as a two-door hardtop and a convertible, and a 4-door hardtop was added in December. Standard equipment included a 305-horsepower 361 cubic inch V8 with four-barrel carburetion and dual exhaust. Positioned beneath the Polara 500 in descending order were the Dart 440 and the Dart 330. For 1962 there was no model named simply "Polara." These models were marketed in Canada as the Dodge 440 and Dodge 330, and a Canada-only basic-spec Dodge 220 model was offered as well.

The Dodges were available with optional V8 engines of up to 413 cu in (6.8 L). These mid-sized Dodges (and similar models from Plymouth) competed successfully as stock cars in NASCAR races, and in stock-automatic classes in drag racing, where their smaller size and lighter weight gave them an advantage over the larger cars from Ford and General Motors.

The basic body of the 1962 model continued until 1964, revised and lengthened by the new Chrysler Vice President of styling Elwood Engel. The Polara range eventually grew to include a 4-door sedan. For 1963 and 1964, the Polara 500 was available only as a convertible or hardtop coupé.

For the 1963 model year, the wheelbase was increased to 119 inches (3,023 mm) and the car received new sheet metal. The Dart name was reassigned to Dodge's line of compact cars that had previously been known as the Dodge Lancer. Positioned below the Polara were the plain 440 and 330. The 1964 models received a revised front end and new tail lamps to distinguish them from the 1963 cars. Rear end treatment took its inspiration from the Chevrolet Impala, the Polara models now featuring six small, square-shaped taillights (three on each side) surrounded by an attractive bright trim panel. Lesser mid-size Dodges featured only four taillights (two on each side) and lacked the bright trim panel. A sensational new "C" pillar for the hardtop coupes, combined with the more attractive front and rear end styling, made the '64s look totally new (and longer/ lower/wider as well), resulting in a significant increase of sales over 1963.

The Polara 500 continued as Dodge's sporty mid-size model, competing with the full-size Ford Galaxie 500/XL and Chevrolet's Impala Super Sport, featuring an engine-turned anodized aluminum trim strip along the car's flanks, bucket seats and deluxe vinyl upholstery.


1965 Polara convertible
Third generation
'66 Dodge Polara Coupe (Auto classique VAQ Mont St-Hilaire '11).jpg
1966 Dodge Polara 2-door hardtop
AssemblyDodge Main Factory, Hamtramck, MI United States
Body and chassis
Body style4-door sedan
2-door coupe
2-door convertible
4-door station wagon
Engine440 cu in (7.2 L) V8 (1966–68)
426 cu in (7.0 L) V8 (1965)
413 cu in (6.8 L) V8 (1965)
383 cu in (6.3 L) V8 (1965–1968)
318 cu in (5.2 L) V8 (1965–1968)
Transmission3-speed automatic
3-speed manual
Wheelbase121.0 in (3,073 mm) 1965–1966; 122.0 in (3,099 mm) 1967–on
Width80.0 in (2,032 mm)
Height62.0 in (1,575 mm)

For 1965, Chrysler moved the Polara back to a Chrysler "C" fullsize platform that was shared with Chrysler and Plymouth models. Once again offered in a full range of bodies (sedans, hardtops, station wagons, etc.), the Polara, in effect, replaced the 880 and remained a step below the Custom 880, and the new Monaco hardtop coupe was now Dodge's top model. The previous mid-sized Dodges that were sold under the names Polara 500, Polara, 440, and 330 continued in production under the name Dodge Coronet, their wheelbase shrinking to 117 inches (2,972 mm). These Polaras were criticized for low fuel economy, with some configurations going only 12 miles on a gallon of gasoline.[4] In the 1966 model year, the Monaco would replace the Custom 880 as the mid-level model while a new Monaco 500 would replace the previous 1965 Monaco. 1967 models received a facelift and the hardtop coupe adopted a semi-fastback roof style with a reverse-slant rear quarter window. 1967 models also saw a new U.S. Government-required safety package that included an energy-absorbing steering column and safety steering wheel, blunt dashboard controls, more interior padding, and a dual-circuit brake master cylinder. 1968s got outboard front shoulder belts and side marker lights in addition to the '67 safety equipment.

One constant of the 1965 to 1968 models was taut, square-edged styling, which was updated each year. From 1965 to 1970, the Polara would be the only full-sized Dodge available in the U.S. as a convertible.


Fourth generation
Dodge Polara 1973.jpg
1973 Dodge Polara 2-door Hardtop
AssemblyDodge Main, Belvidere, Illinois
Wilmington, Delaware, United States
Body and chassis
Body style4-door sedan
2-door coupe
2-door convertible
4-door station wagon
Engine318 cu in (5.2 L) V8
360 cu in (5.9 L) V8
383 cu in (6.3 L) V8
400 cu in (6.6 L) V8
440 cu in (7.2 L) V8
225 cu in (3.7 L) I6
Transmission3-speed automatic
3-speed manual
Wheelbase122.0 in (3,099 mm)
Length1969–1970: 220.8 in (5,608 mm)
1971–73: 220.0 in (5,588 mm)
Width1969–1970: 79.3 in (2,014 mm)
1971–73: 79.0 in (2,007 mm)
Height1969–1970: 56.8 in (1,443 mm)
1971–73: 63.4 in (1,610 mm)

The new 1969 Polara wore a broad-shouldered streamlined design called the "Fuselage Design", which would continue for the next five model years.[5] New safety requirements included front seat head restraints.

For 1969, the Polara 500 was reintroduced as a mid-level series between the standard Polara and top-of-the-line Monaco. The Polara 500 was available as either a convertible or hardtop coupe. Available powerplants included 318, 383, and 440 cubic-inch V8 engines, along with a 225 cubic-inch slant-6 engine. The 1969 Dodge Polara models offered the Super-Lite option, which placed a quartz auxiliary "turnpike beam" headlamp in the driver side grille.[6]

1970 Dodge Polara

In 1970, the Polara received new front and rear styling that included a bumper that wrapped around the grill and headlights. The Polara 500 was replaced by the Polara Custom in hardtop coupe, 4-door hardtop sedan, and conventional 4-door sedan body styles. There was also a stripped-down Polara Special available as either a 4-door sedan or station wagon. 1970 was the last year that the Polara would be available in a convertible body style (with a scant 842 produced, making it extremely rare today), and Dodge would never again offer a full-sized convertible. Also exceptionally rare for 1970 was the "medallion" rear bumper. This bumper featured in all of the sales literature was discontinued after late August or early September 1969 production and replaced with a plain bumper lacking the center Fratzog medallion. Despite the fanfare, Dodge dropped the "Super-Lite" option at the end of the 1970 model year because of lack of consumer interest and various challenges to its legality in certain states. 1970s also received a new locking steering column which locked the steering wheel and column shift lever when the key was removed.

1971 Polara coupe
1971 Polara station wagon

The Polara Special disappeared for 1971, but a new sub-series was the Polara Brougham positioned above the Polara Custom, but still a step below the Monaco, the Polara Brougham was available only as a hardtop coupe or 4-door hardtop sedan. The 360 V8 was also introduced for 1971.

The 1972 model year would see a fairly significant facelift with new sheet metal and the disappearance of the Polara Brougham model. 1973 models received new front-end styling (which resembled the big 1970 Chevrolet), in which they lost the previous wrap-around front bumper.

Sales of the Polara were falling by this time, however. Having been eclipsed by the Monaco, Dodge decided to drop the Polara after 1973. The energy crisis in the fall of 1973, spurred on by the Arab/OPEC oil embargo, resulted in a serious drop in sales of all full-size American automobiles, which were seen as gas-guzzling monsters. The Polara shared the same fate as the other big cars from Detroit. The redesigned 1974 Monaco would only serve for four model years before being replaced by the unsuccessful Dodge St. Regis.

In Argentina[edit]

Argentinian Dodge Polara

In Argentina, the name Polara was used to refer to a series of vehicles developed on the basis of the fourth-generation North American Dodge Dart. These cars were manufactured between 1968 and 1980, by the subsidiary Chrysler-Fevre Argentina S.A.[7] in sedan and coupe versions.

While the Argentinian Polara was badged as a Dodge, it was marketed alongside the Argentinian variant of the Plymouth Valiant (derived from the US Plymouth Valiant, the first and second generation Australian Chrysler Valiant, and third and fourth generation US Dodge Dart). The sedan variant of this line was mainly composed of two models based on the same body, with the basic model sold as the Polara and the deluxe version as the Coronado.[8] The coupe variant's models were also based on the same body, with the basic model known as the Dodge Polara Coupe, the sports version as the Dodge Polara R/T, all these models featured the 225 cu in (3.7 L) Straight Slant-6 engine, and the deluxe high-performance version as the Dodge GTX. This last model came equipped with a 318 cubic inch V8, considered the most powerful engine ever produced in Argentina. Other models in the production line were the Dodge Valiant, Polara GT and Polara Diesel, all 4-door sedans.[7]

The Dodge Polara line of cars, designed exclusively for the Argentine market, look like the 1968 Plymouth Satellite for the sedan and the Dodge ChargerPlymouth Road Runner for the coupé, but they are smaller (although larger than the Dodge Dart). However, the interior, especially the dashboard, are similar to those of the early 70s Dodge Dart–Plymouth Valiant. The coupes were not available in large numbers, but are collected by enthusiasts. They were hard to sell as gas consumption is high compared to the 4- and 6-cylinder cars the Argentine consumer is used to. Several restyling jobs of the whole line with new front and rear ends were carried out within its lifetime.

Argentinian Dodge Polara GTX coupé
Spanish-market Dodge 3700 GT version

An automobile magazine, Corsa, road-tested a Polara GTX coupé with a V8 rated at 212 hp (158 kW) at 4400 rpm, 308 lb⋅ft (418 N⋅m) at 2600 rpm and 8.5:1 compression ratio. It reached a top speed of 189 km/h (117 mph), and reached 0–100 km/h (0–62 mph) in 10.2 seconds.[9]

There was also a version of this model, built from 1971 to 1978 exported to Spain as a CKD in cooperation with the Barreiros company known as the Dodge 3700.[8]

Dodge Polara GTXTechnical Data (in Spanish)

In Brazil[edit]

In Brazil, the Polara nameplate was revived in 1977 for a version of the Chrysler Avenger. They were sold until 1981.

There was also a version of this model in sedan and station wagon built in the 1970s in Argentina of the same car known as the Dodge 1500 until Volkswagen took over Chrysler Fevre Argentina SAIC, including the tooling for the car, in 1980. From then until 1988 the car was sold in Argentina as the Volkswagen 1500 (not to be confused with the Type 3, also sold as the Volkswagen 1500 in most markets, including a similar version with 1600 engine in Brazil).


  1. ^ a b "1961 Dodge Dart and Polara brochure". Retrieved November 20, 2011.
  2. ^ Redgap, Curtis. "1962 Plymouth Sport Fury car reviews". Retrieved April 20, 2011.
  3. ^ Gunnell, John (2006). standard catalog of American Muscle Cars 1960–1972. Krause Publications. ISBN 0-89689-433-9.
  4. ^ Hartford, Bill (August 1967). "Dodge Polara: Thirsty Diamond in the Rough". Popular Mechanics. p. 116
  5. ^ Flory, Jr., J. Kelly (2012). American Cars, 1973-1980: Every Model, Year by Year. McFarland. p. 161. ISBN 9780786456369. Retrieved November 17, 2016.
  6. ^ "Dodge Super-Lite information & spec sheet". Retrieved September 29, 2010.
  7. ^ a b Chrysler Argentina S.A., Dodge Coronado and Polara specifications Archived November 15, 2011, at the Wayback Machine (in Spanish) – accessed January 3, 2012
  8. ^ a b Dodge 3700 GT, Piel de (in Spanish) – accessed January 3, 2012
  9. ^ Chrysler in South America (1962–1982) – accessed December 3, 2008

External links[edit]