The `50s were filled with excellent style, class, and passion. It was a time where the American car companies began to express their styling direction and move each brand further away from each other. A Dodge was a Dodge and Chevy was a Chevy. Before this time of style, it was hard to distinguish the differences between all the cars on the road. This birth of new style also sparked a new revolution, the rise of the American V-8.
Power levels and cubic inches were rising. Chrysler took a different direction that most of the other automakers. They had begun using a ground-breaking cylinder head design that had risen from the smorgasbord of technology, the Second World War. This design uses a reverse-bowl that allows for a more efficient combustion chamber. For the time, it was state-of-the-art and the new engines were installed in Chrysler (FirePower), Dodge (Red Ram), and DeSotos (Fire Dome) automobiles. It would later adopt the popular name Hemi.
Mike Petersen of Raleigh, North Carolina, has spent a great deal of time studying up on these early Dodges, particularly the 1955. He owns this '55 Custom Royal Lancer powered by a 270ci Red Ram and has restored it completely. He received the car for his sixteenth birthday in 1966 and his grandfather purchased the car in 1956 and Mike has rebuilt it several times since. He had grown very familiar with the car.
The car was delivered to the dealer as a two tone blue. But, the dealer wanted to make the car three tone. The Custom Royal Lancer was then painted the way you see it now with a white hood and trunk. If the color combination had gone either way, there is no denying the cool looks of the `50s.
Now Mike has owned the 2-door coupe for over 40 years and looks identical to the day his grandfather drove it off the lot. The blue and white cloth and vinyl bench seat has been restored along with all of the original gauges. It sports a dual exhaust system as well - part of the Power Package. It's going to be tough to find a cleaner Custom Royal out there, especially since only 30,000 were made in this body style.
While the early Hemi engines won't be remembered for producing outrageous numbers, 193 hp was quite powerful for its time. It became the base for building the second generation design that we all came to love. Chrysler was ahead of its time with their offerings durring the `50s and they continued this tradition for quite some time. Meanwhile, Ford and Chevy had to play catch up while they were loosing at the track and on the street.
Durring '53 and '54 Chrysler sales were so poor that the end was in site. A hefty $250 million dollar, 100 year loan was taken out to save the car company. This new money finally allowed the auto maker to revise its lineup. The result was this beautiful '55 Custom Royale Lancer.
The Dodge Red Ram was introduced in 1953, Dodge's first attempt at Hemi-powered automobiles. It wasn't until the engine was mated with excellent style that it began to make an impact on the automotive scene. The Red Ram actually has the smallest bore center distance of any hemi engine at 4.1875 in.
The styling on the '55 Dodge was far ahead of its time. 1955 became a year of a complete styling turn-around for Chrysler. Mike's Custom Royal Lancer was originally a two-tone car but the dealer added white on the hood and trunk.