Back in the day, Mopar's B-Body wagons were familiar sights around the country-not just in shopping-center parking lots and hauling families around deepest, darkest Suburbia, but they were also seen trackside. At the drags, you'd see them push-starting the gas and fuel dragsters of the day, as well as towing, parts-carrying, and crew-hauling.
But you'd rarely see them built to run or show, unlike Ma Mopar's midsized two-doors. That is until the last decade or so, when the supply of project-ready two-doors shrank at a faster rate than that of similar four-door sedans and wagons, while the supply of project-ready Mopar builders stayed the same, or grew.
Tim Simpson's '64 Dodge wagon had seen both civilian-hauler and hauling-down-the-strip duty before he found it. It's not certain what engine was in it when it was built-Slant Six, 318 Poly, or a 361 or 383 B-engine-but there was a 426 Max Wedge in there at one time. "The car originally came out of Illinois," he says from his Lebanon, Pennsylvania, shop. "I found it over the Internet, and it had a 440 in it when I bought it. The guy I bought it from said he'd got the car out of Texas, and the guy he bought it from had been drag-racing the car with a Max Wedge in it. He also had an original Max Wedge car, and that's why he originally bought the wagon-to put the Max Wedge engine in it. Eventually, he dropped the 440 in the wagon and sold it, and that's how I ended up with it."
Tim decided to make a dual-purpose wagon out of the '64, one that would handle occasional load-carrying as well as occasional bursts down the quarter-mile. He also wanted to make it look like something that a Mopar devotee would have assembled with the help of the Direct Connection performance-parts catalog. "What I did was I got hold of a friend who worked at a Chrysler dealership, and he turned around and got me an old Direct Connection catalog, and that's basically how we built that car-exactly the way it was back in the '70s," says Tim. "That was my whole intention-to make the car look like they were back then." Remembering a buddy's '64 Plymouth wagon, and how it was built, also gave Tim some period-correct inspiration.
Under the original, unscooped steel hood went a 440, built by Midway Performance in nearby Bethel, Pennsylvania. "We took a 440 and, as you can see by the pictures, it looks like a Max Wedge. I put aluminum heads on it and all that."
The 727 got freshened, thanks to John Seiberling at Seiberling's Service Center, also located in Bethel. Inside the OEM aluminum case, a rebuild kit was joined by a 1,500-stall converter, and the original pushbutton shifter (which made its last factory-installed appearance in 1964) was retained. Out back, the 8¾ rearend was also upgraded, gaining a set of 3.90:1 rear gears in the process.
The chassis also received plenty of upgrades, just like the rest of the car. The braking system got a power-brake booster along with a dual-circuit master cylinder that replaced the original single-circuit stock piece, while a pair of SSBC discs went on in front and a pair of 11-inch Mopar drums were fitted in back. Suspension-wise, the original front torsion bar/rear leaf setup was retained, with a pair of Mopar Super Stock rear leaf bundles (which were moved inboard for tire clearance) replacing the well-worn original springs. Period-correct Cragas S/S five-spoke wheels also went on each corner.
When it came time for bodywork, Tim kept that in-house at his shop (Simpson's Body Shop in Lebanon, Pennsylvania). They kept the mid-level 440 series trim while adding a decidedly non-original paint scheme. "The paint is actually a mix of Mazda and Toyota colors," says Tim. "I used the Mazda base and the Toyota pearl on top of that. My son and I came up with it."
With the air cleaners off, the dual four-barrels, their linkage and "short-ram" intake man
Tim shows off his '64 Dodge's rear cargo room with the back seat down. Back then this was
Orange It Cool? The orange-centered color scheme carries over to the inside of Tim's wagon
The resulting color combination reminded a lot of people of a favorite frozen treat. "I laugh when everybody tells me that I should have a Creamsicle logo put on the side of it," Tim says. "I say, 'Well, I've been thinking of that-calling it the Creamsicle!' "
Orange and white are also the colors covering the stock bench seats and the door panels-joined by tan carpeting on the floors, lower door panels, and in the cargo area. "I had that done by Gruber's Upholstery in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania," Tim notes.
The result is a '64 Dodge 440 wagon that excels at both kinds of hauling, especially on the quarter-mile Maple Grove Raceway strip, where Tim opened it up. "We ran the car there just to see what it would do the way it sits-we didn't do anything to it," Jim says. "We turned a 12.70 with it at 105 mph." How about the more routine kind of hauling such as groceries, etc.? Tim says, "Oh yes! That's what I put it together for, and to have fun with it."
So you see, dear Dodge devotees and Plymouth people, you can build a four-door early B-Body to look and run great, just like you can with the two-door ones. Plus, with the wagon body style, your family and friends can get in and out easier .and you can haul groceries home in it as easily as you can haul you-know-what on the strip.
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'64 Dodge 440 Station Wagon
Owned by: Tim Simpson, Lebanon, Pennsylvania
- Engine: A Max Wedge-ified 440, wearing the classic "Ramcharger" cross-ram 2x4 intake between a set of aluminum heads. Carburetion is a pair of Carter four-barrels with correct Max Wedge linkage. This RB also has an aluminum radiator and an MSD ignition with a 6,000-rpm rev limiter.
- Transmission: Rebuilt 727 with a 1,500 stall converter and original dash-mounted pushbutton/cable shift linkage.
- Rearend: 3.90-geared 8¾ rearend is stout enough for the 440-powered 440.
- Suspension: OEM-style front torsion bars are joined by Mopar Super Stock rear leaf springs, moved inboard for tire clearance.
- Brakes: Updated system has dual-circuit master cylinder, SSBC front discs, OEM Mopar 11-inch rear drums, and is power assisted.
- Wheels: Period-correct Cragar S/S five-spokes.
- Body: Original '64 B-Body station wagon unibody wears correct Dodge 440 trim, plus a correct-for-'64 chrome roof rack. Owner Tim Simpson, helped by his son and one of his Simpson's Body Shop craftsmen, did the bodywork himself.
- Paint: A combination of Mazda Orange and Toyota Pearl White, sprayed on at Simpson's Body Shop, Lebanon, Pennsylvania
- Interior: Gruber's Upholstery in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, went with the orange/white "Creamsicle" theme with vinyl matching the exterior colors on the original bench seats and the upper door panels. Tan carpeting covers the rear cargo area, rear sear back, and the bottom of each door panel. Also inside: a Grant GT steering wheel, tachometer, OEM pushbutton AM radio, and Vintage Air AC system.