This is not a black ’63 Dodge Polara 500 convertible with a Stage II 426 Max Wedge. Likely, it’s the black ’63 Dodge Polara 500 convertible with a Stage II 426 Max Wedge!
Back in 1963, the Max Wedge Ramcharger V-8s weren’t restricted to the B-Body Dodge’s low-line 330 or mid-range 440 series—or only available in the lightest-weight two-door sedan body styles, either. If you wanted, you could get one in a Polara or Polara 500—or in a convertible.
A summer 1963 Dodge buyer in southern California ordered this car from a dealer in Glendale—just down the road from “The Little Old Lady From Pasadena’s” mythical stomping grounds. Equipped with the Ramcharger option ($445), 727 TorqueFlite automatic ($211), power windows ($102), MusicMaster AM radio ($58), and whitewall tires ($48), this drop-top Dodge, whose base price started at $3,196, stickered out at just over four grand, plus shipping.
Max Wedge, version 2.0. Foam rubber collars seal the dual Carter AFBs to the hoodscoops. I
Needless to say, the owner got a lot for his four grand. The Max Wedge not only received a displacement boost for 1963 to 426 cubic inches, it also got new cylinder heads with bigger valves, better air flow characteristics, and stronger castings. That was all thanks to the work that Willem Weertman’s engine-research team at Highland Park was doing—which also resulted in the 426 Hemi.
But the upgraded RB wasn’t all that the Ramcharger package contained. The hood was a new-for-’63 fiberglass one with a functional scoop, and the transmission was either a Hurst-shifted Borg-Warner T-85 three-speed, or a modified 727 with its factory dash pushbutton shifter. 1963 was the first year for an optional four-speed in the B-Body—the Borg-Warner T-10—but it wasn’t offered by Ma Mopar behind any engine bigger than a 383. The Ramcharger also included tubular exhaust headers with three-inch collectors flowing into two-inch dual exhausts, with racing-intended removable header caps at the headers’ aft ends, as well as an 8¾-inch rear end with Sure Grip.
This car stayed in California through the ’60s, before its original owner sold it to Randy Schultz in Sumner, Iowa, who used it as a good-weather driver while keeping the original mileage under 18,000. Later, it wore a set of Cragar S/S wheels with 60-series Winston bias-ply tires, and was featured in a couple enthusiast magazines in 1983 and 1984.
Fast forward to 2001, when current owner Elliott Parker entered the picture. At an all-Mopar show and swap meet in Decatur, Alabama—in search of a 440 Six Barrel induction system for his ’69 Road Runner—a contact at the show led him to a farm near town. Once there, Elliott spotted the ’63. Purchased from Randy Schultz over 15 years earlier as a restoration project, it sat in a barn, partially disassembled, as the farm took more and more of the owner’s time.
Believe it—as of the photos, this ’63 has only 18,950 original miles on it.
Elliott bought it and took it home, where it resided in ready-to-restore condition while he did his research on it. He found that not only was it one of maybe 13 ’63 Dodge drop-tops out of about 28 B-Body Dodge and Plymouth convertibles built with the Stage II 426 Wedge (which didn’t make it into production until mid-June of that year), it was also one of four known survivors and likely the only black Polara 500. Elliott says that a lot of his research was done via phone calls to Randy Schultz. “I’m looking forward to getting to meet him one day,” says Elliott. “He’s told me so much about this car.”
Power windows? Yep...the first owner ordered them, and Elliott kept them.
At another northern Alabama Mopar show, this time in Huntsville, Elliott asked around and got the name of The Carriage Works, who restored the 413-powered ’62 Plymouth Sport Fury convertible seen in our July issue. The Carriage Works’ Tim Snitger was there that day and, before long, the Polara 500 moved to his shop for a 1½-year restoration. “I wanted it to be the best and out-look anything on the road,” says Elliott. “That’s the way I had it restored.”
Fortunately, all of the ’63’s original pieces were all there. No replacement, reproduction, or fabricated sheetmetal is to be seen anywhere—they’re the same stampings that Hamtramck Assembly welded together nearly 50 summers ago. Same for the Stage II Max Wedge and the not-reproduced Polara 500 trim pieces.
No power steering or brakes here, just like on the lighter-weight Dodge and Plymouth Max W
The first time that Elliott showed it, at last year’s Huntsville Mopar show, he scored Best in Show. Then, after getting a haul from The Carriage Works up to Ohio, Elliott entered it in the Mopar Nationals, where it took first place in the B-Body Original ’62-’67 class.
And he just might win that trophy again this year. “They have invited me to bring it back this year,” says Elliott. “I don’t know whether my wife’s going to let me do it, because it’s kind of expensive to trailer that car all the way up there to put it in the show, but I’m hoping to do that.”
The odometer shows less that 19,000 original miles, and Elliott hasn’t put very many on it since the restoration was completed. As the lighter-weight, Stage II-powered ’63 Dodge 330s were running consistently in the low to mid 12-scond range on the quarter-mile, this Polara 500 will likely run 13.00 in the quarter without breathing hard!
Elliott, his wife Florene (and four-legged friend Layla) pose with their Polara 500 outsid
The Stage II Ramcharger was the capper on a very successful 1963 for The Dodge Boys Thanks to quality improvements that led to Ma Mopar’s first five-year, 50,000-mile powertrain warranty (which Max Wedge cars didn’t have), the B-Body’s Elwood Engel-influenced restyling, the A-Body’s makeover into the Dart and the “family-size” C-Body 880 and Custom 880 in the lineup from the get-go, Dodge had a winning sales year. And, thanks to the Stage II Max Wedge, Dodge cleaned up on the strip, too.
’63 Dodge Polara 500 convertible
Owned by: Florene and Elliott Parker
Town Creek, Alabama
- Engine: The original Stage II 426 Ramcharger, restored by R&R Speed and Machine, Huntsville, Alabama.
- Transmission: Restored original 727 TorqueFlite with dash-mounted pushbutton shifter restored by Pat Heron, Huntsville, Alabama.
- Rearend: Restored original 8 3/4-inch with a 3.91-geared Sure Grip.
Dodge’s Exner-era weirdness gave way to the Engel era’s slab-sided styling for 1963. Chrom
- Suspension: Restored original: (Front) Heavy-duty longitudinal torsion bars and tubular shocks with an anti-sway bar. (Rear) Heavy-duty leaf springs with tubular shocks.
- Brakes: Restored original non power-assisted drum and shoe brakes all around.
- Wheels and Tires: 14 x 5.5-inch steel wheels wear a set of reproduction BFGoodrich 7.35-14 whitewalls, and a set of "spinner" wheel covers that Polara 500s and Custom 880s shared back then.
- Body: Low-mileage original ’63 Dodge B-Body convertible unibody restored by The Carriage Works, Huntsville, Alabama, using all its original sheetmetal.
- Paint: Black acrylic enamel, sprayed on by The Carriage Works, Huntsville, Alabama.
- Interior: Restored to factory-fresh condition by Richard Cunningham at The Carriage Works, Huntsville, Alabama. Auto Custom Carpets made the repro press-molded carpets that just dropped right in, as well as the Dodge-logo floor mats atop them.
Warranty? What warranty? Max Wedge-powered Mopars like Elliott’s Polara 500 got this glove
Undo four bolts a side and uncap a ton of power.