Though the performance era was just heating up in 1966, the newly-redesigned Dodge Coronet may well have been something your grandparents purchased. The flowing yet conservative bodylines and wide variety of engine and equipment options allowed buyers to tailor it to their personal needs or desires. For example, under the wide hood ranged displacements from the 225-inch Slant Six to the roaring 426-inch Street Hemi, also new for that year, while body trim included the base Cornet 440 and the deluxe Coronet 500. The extra-cost 500 package gave the buyer carpet-lined door panels and bucket seats with the available console and floor shifter. Unlike the also-new Charger, which was based on the same basic design platform, Coronet buyers could also order one as a convertible. Such was the case with this luxury-oriented example owned by Byron and Lois Barrows of Milton, Pennsylvania.
Unmolested, this clean machine was originally purchased by Byron from an older gentleman in Philadelphia who wanted it to stay in caring hands. Since the Dodge drop-top was still in excellent shape, the Barrows began an easy restoration by stripping down the well-preserved body, doing some slight repair, and re-covering the prepped panels with white acrylic enamel. Legendary Auto supplied new skins for the seats, but the remainder of the interior and the convertible top are the same ones that came off the assembly line.
With only 36,000 miles on the odometer, the 383 Magnum wasn't even tired yet. Nonetheless, Byron pulled it out and freshened it up with a clean-up pass through in the cylinders and a new set of rings. To give the Coronet a little more "umph," he replaced the factory bumpstick with one from Mopar Performance. The factory-installed crank, rods, and pistons were checked out and put right back into service while the original heads were freshened up and continue pull the air-fuel mixture from the original Carter AFB and factory four-barrel intake. Backing up the second-winded big-block is an A-833 four-speed, with the gear choices made by the original Inland shifter. This combination comes to an end at the 8 3/4 rear with 3.23 SureGrip center section out back. To plant the power to the ground, Byron deviated from stock and chose 225/70-R14 BFG radials on TorqueThrust wheels.
Since purchasing their drop-top cruiser 11 years ago, Byron and Lois have relegated it to summer-only cruising, since the salt-covered winter roads of Pennsylvania can quickly destroy a treasured beauty. The quality of workmanship has rewarded the Barrows with several trophies, but more important to them are the compliments and looks they receive. Now with just 44,000 "smiles" tallied since its factory release in 1966, it's easy to see why this luxury-based cruiser is the perfect performer.