1966 Dodge Coronet - A Classic Comeback After Decades in Hiding

The 1960s were the golden era of automobiles and my absolute favorite decade for many reasons. Not only did Ferrari and Lamborghini create some of the hottest supercars, but Detroit also rolled out some of the most beautiful U.S.-made vehicles.

The decade also saw the rise of the golden muscle car era with high-performance big-block V8 engines and stunning designs, available in compact, midsize, and full-size cars. But what sets the 1960s apart is the custom orders from dealerships like Grand Spaulding Dodge, who created the legendary "Mr. Norm" cars, including the rare 1969 COPO Camaro twins, 1968 Ford Mustang Cobra Jet, and Royal Bobcat Pontiacs.

While GM, Ford, and Chrysler battled for horsepower supremacy, these custom cars remain the epitome of cool and a testament to the creativity and ingenuity of the era.

Established in 1962 and co-owned by Norm Kraus, Grand Spaulding became the biggest Dodge dealership in the U.S., thanks to Norm's focus on high performance. Much like Yenko, Royal Pontiac, and Dick Harrell, the Chicago-based dealership rolled out beefed-up muscle cars alongside regular factory cars. And the lineup included all the cool Dodges of the era, like the Charger, Challenger, and the Super Bee.

Mopar enthusiasts might also remember the Dodge Dart GSS that Mr. Norm created in 1968 by dropping the massive 440-cubic-inch (7.2-liter) V8 in the A-body compact. But this blurb is about a Dodge that we rarely see with a "Mr. Norm's" decal: a 1966 Coronet. One that left the factory with a very special engine: the 426-cubic-inch (7.0-liter) Wedge V8.

Originally a Coronet 500, this Mopar was taken off the assembly line and fitted with the iconic Street Wedge following a special order placed by Grand Spaulding Dodge. And that's a rather puzzling thing to do in a year when the mighty 426 HEMI was already available and the Wedge was pretty much discontinued. Shipped to Chicago in December 1965, the car was sold to its original owner in early 1966.

Fast forward to 2023 and the Coronet is still around but it looks like a classic that's struggling with an identity crisis. That's because it's sporting "Coronet 500" and "383" badges on its front fenders, it rides on wider-that-usual rear wheels, and it no longer packs its original Wedge V8.

Fortunately enough though, the folks over at "BackWoods Performance," who recently purchased the car, got in touch with the first owner, who was able to confirm that this Plum Crazy Mopar is indeed a "Mr. Norm's" car.

And get this, they did a bit of extra digging, including getting in touch with Chrysler expert Galen V. Govier, to find out that it's one of only two Wedge-powered 1966 Coronets known to exist. All options and exterior color considered, it's a one-of-one gem that got lucky enough to survive for more than five decades.

And I say "lucky enough" because the original owner used to take this Mopar to the drag strip. Yup, that's why it has wider rear tires and cut-out rear fenders.

But what's with the "Coronet 500" and "383" badges, you ask? Well, one of the fenders was damaged during an accident and the original owner replaced both of them with parts from a different Coronet and didn't bother to change the emblems.

And according to him, the car has been like that since the 1970s, even though it changed ownership around 1995 when it also went off the radar.

Granted, it's far from being 100% original and it won't be reunited with the engine and other parts it lost on the way but it's the perfect definition of a survivor race car. The new owner isn't planning on restoring it to its original specifications, which is a bit disappointing, but this unique "Mr. Norm's" car is better off as a project than a junkyard gem.

Check it out in the video below.

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