John, a Norfolk Southern locomotive engineer, has been around massive icons of American machinery his whole life, so when he spotted this gold-on-black convertible at the Chryslers at Carlisle show eight years ago, he wanted it, but the timing was not right. The sellers--a mother and son--explained their late husband/father had restored the car as best as he could without sacrificing most of its originality. John took their phone number home, but lost it.

Last year, John was walking into the Carlisle show grounds and saw the very same '58 Dodge on the back of a rollback bed truck. It seems the mother and son had held onto the car. For the past eight years, John thought he had missed his chance at getting the gorgeous convertible, but there it was right before him again. This time a deal was made, and the rare-optioned Dodge--a beautiful example of American craftsmanship--is now another trophy in his collection.

Fast Facts:
'58 Dodge Custom Royal Convertible
John Rudy • New Cumberland, PA

Mopar Power

  • Engine: 325ci polyspherical Red Ram V-8. Capable of 252 hp, this powerplant features an unusually designed cylinder head that survived until the Max Wedge design in 1963. Though overshadowed by the 392 Hemi, the Red Ram was hailed as a superior option over the 392 Hemi, offering better torque responsiveness than the Hemi.
  • Transmission: The year 1958 was the second year for the TorqueFlite 727 automatic; the gearbox was controlled by a dash-mounted push-button shifter arrangement made famous by late-'50s and early-'60s drag racers.
  • Rearend: A Chrysler 8-3?4 Sure Grip with street-friendly gears.
  • Horsepower & Performance: Factory rated at 252 ponies, the Custom Royal was not as potent as a 392-equipped Fury or 300D for the model year. It was viewed more as an economical powerplant, but it was more than capable of moving the big Royal down the highway.
  • Sure Grip

  • Suspension: Chrysler's innovative suspension design broke new ground in 1957 and again in 1958. Utilizing front torsion bars, it allowed Chrysler vehicle's superior handling and steering responsiveness. The rear suspension uses a pair of semi-elliptical leaf springs. Power-assisted steering on this '58 makes for additional gains in handling and cornering.
  • Brakes: Drums at all four corners, which given the vehicle's bulk, makes short-response stopping a little dicey.
  • Wheels: Factory 14-inch steel rims with Lancer spinner hubcaps fit with plenty of room under the large wheelwells.
  • Rubber: Standard white-wall reproduction tires, 7-1?2-inches wide. This car was meant to cruise the miracle mile, not hit the slalom.
  • High Impact

  • Body: Though crafted out of inferior U.S. subsidized Japanese steel, this convertible has remained rust-free. The previous owner had undertaken a long restoration to bring this Dodge back to its previous luster with all possible original trim and chrome. Since the aftermarket hasn't jumped on these Mopars like the shoebox Chevrolets and Fords, the Custom Royal is pretty much still wearing all the factory badging.
  • Paint: Before John Rudy got his hands on this machine, the original owner undertook the labor of restoring the '58 convertible. He opted to retain the originality of the Royal by repainting it in the original black with gold inserts.
  • Interior: Since nobody is reproducing electroluminescent gauges, the original owner simply kept things as original as possible. The black and white vinyl seats are the same as the factory installed in 1958. The seats may sag a little where the driver sat, and the carpet may be a little worn in certain places, but it's still the original materials. With power windows, a transistor radio, push-button shifter, and nearly every other cushy comfort Dodge had available for the model year, it's more like driving a trendy New York condominium than an automobile.