Rare 1966 Dodge HEMI Coronet - An Exceptional Four-Door Creation by Don "Big Daddy" Garlits

Debuting in 1964 as a race-spec powerhouse, the legendary 426-cubic-inch (7.0-liter) HEMI V8 made its way into street cars by 1966. Initially offered in four nameplates by Dodge and Plymouth, the HEMI eventually found a home in 13 different American models before production ceased in 1971.

From everyday vehicles like the Dodge Coronet and Plymouth Belvedere to high-performance muscle cars like the Dodge Charger and Plymouth GTX, the HEMI propelled them all. It even powered the Dodge Challenger, Plymouth Barracuda, and the extraordinary Daytona and Superbird homologation specials.

Despite their differences, these vehicles shared a common trait: they were all two-door models. Chrysler never officially offered the 426 HEMI in four-door sedans or station wagons.

However, that didn't stop a few privately-built dragsters from hitting the track with HEMIs under their hoods. More intriguingly, Dodge took a bold step and installed the 426 HEMI into a four-door 1966 Coronet sedan, resulting in the rarest Mopar sleeper in existence.

A mystery even to many Chrysler aficionados, the HEMI Coronet sedan's history remains shrouded in secrecy. While no official production numbers exist, it's believed that only five such sedans were ever made.

Three were sold in the United States, one in Canada, and the fifth car went overseas. Interestingly, two of the U.S. cars were reportedly custom-ordered by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Each of the five HEMI sedans came equipped with automatic transmissions, Sure-Grip rear ends with 3.23 gears, heavy-duty batteries, and front sway bars. However, true to most HEMI models, they lacked air conditioning, power steering, power brakes, and power windows.

So, where are these elusive vehicles now? While the locations of the export cars remain unknown, the three U.S. models still exist. One fetched an impressive $660,000 at auction in 2007, another resides in Minnesota, and the third calls the Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing home.

That brings us to the extraordinary car I'm excited to share with you. Yes, it's another HEMI-powered Coronet sedan, but this one didn't receive its 426 V8 at a Dodge factory. Instead, drag-racing icon Don "Big Daddy" Garlits installed the engine himself. But there's more to this Coronet Deluxe than just its HEMI heart.

In an effort to recreate the original HEMI sedan he owned, Don also added a Sure Grip rear end with factory specifications, a heavy-duty battery, and a front sway bar.

The result is an astonishingly authentic HEMI Coronet four-door sedan, albeit assembled somewhat later than its counterparts. Though it's unclear when Don Garlits sold the car, his signature now adorns the dashboard.

Curiously, the accompanying plate states that it's a recreation of one of two (rather than five or three U.S. models) four-door sedans built by Chrysler in 1966, adding to the HEMI Coronet's intrigue.

While it may not be an original, this Mopar boasts an incredible sleeper status that's as close to a factory-built example as you can get. It has been enhanced and owned by one of the most renowned racing legends, and with less than 17,000 miles on the odometer, it's even more appealing.

This HEMI four-door was spotted at an auction event earlier in 2023, where it failed to sell with a $50,000 high bid. Feast your eyes on this exceptional vehicle in the video below.

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post