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1957 Dodge Coronet

Dodge’s 1957 model year saw the fullest implementation of Chrysler styling chief Virgil Exner’s radical Forward Look designs. The new body was longer, lower and wider than previous models. It was based on the half-ton truck line, now badged as D100 through D300 depending on weight rating, and featured a massive wraparound windshield and fins that stretched to the front doors. The rear window was a flat piece of glass mounted inboard of the dual taillights. The grille sported chrome jet-styled ‘brows’ above a large¬†Dodge 1957 nameplate. A gull-wing-shaped horizontal bar dipped in the center to house a large, ‘Hemi’-styled V8 engine.

The Coronet Diplomat was Dodge’s entry into the muscle car market and it featured a 140 horsepower, 24-valve, two-barrel Red Ram Hemi engine. This powerplant was a small-block version of the famed Chrysler Hemi and it made the Coronet a serious contender at the Bonneville Salt Flats. The Diplomat also became the first car to have a removable top, which allowed it to be carried in a station wagon.

Another big change was the addition of a hooded headlight on all trucks, except commercial cab-over-engine models. This feature was only a temporary thing, however. It was swept aside by the dual-headlight craze of 1958.

Dodge also introduced a new deluxe line of cars, called the Coronet Series. These were available in two- and four-door pillarless hardtops, along with three convertibles. The most luxurious of the Coronet offerings was the 1956 ‘Texan,’ which featured a Texas-styled badging and a special trim package. It was also the only time that Dodge offered a ‘dual quad’ carburetor setup (twin four-barrel carbs for those unfamiliar with automotive terminology).

Aside from introducing new model year Coronet cars, the Coronet lineup included a handful of specialty models. These included a ‘Bunny Hill’ model that was intended to appeal to young families. Another was a Dodge ‘Cowboy Special’ that featured a ‘Texan’ badging and a special trim package designed to appeal to the cowboy crowd.

In the pickup market, Dodge continued to offer its fleetside models alongside its sweptside pickups. The sweptside models were a bit more utilitarian than the fleetside trucks, offering a shorter bed and more of a utility appearance. The sweptside pickup was a truck that could haul heavy loads but still managed to look good doing it.

The sweptside was available in both left-hand drive and right-hand drive versions. Buyers had a choice of engines, including the 235bhp straight-six and the 245bhp Hemi V8. The latter had been a big seller when it was first introduced and it still offered a potent combination of speed and handling, with Autocar magazine reporting that the pickup displayed acceleration ‘of tiger character but achieved with finesse.’

Besides the big trucks and special models, Dodge also continued to sell some of its regular half-ton pickups. These used the standard six-and-a-half foot bed and a conventional cab, but they were clad in fiberglass fenders that gave them a more car-like appearance. The ‘Cameo’ pickup that Chevy introduced in 1955 was a direct competitor and it forced Dodge to update its own truck offerings.

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