BODACIOUS BEATERS and Road-going Derelicts: Po' Lara

Phil Coconis
by Phil Coconis

It’s been a long, long time since I can remember seeing one of these on the road…and a WAGON no less!

These Polaras were considered mid-sized in an era when truly excessive full-sized land yachts were the desired mode of transport for the financially solvent and nuclear family-oriented, here in the good ol’ U. S. of A. Still, the automotive purchasing public didn’t exactly pan the model; and, in fact, some racers embraced it, considering its combination of outside and underhood dimensions—read that as the possibility of stuffing a big powerful engine in a relatively small car— ideal for quarter-mile shredding. I seem to remember seeing them in law enforcement and fire department livery—likely for the same virtues appreciated by racers.

Far removed from derelict, various visual cues suggest that this particular early-Sixties (I’m guessing probably 1963 or 1964) second-generation Dodge has been owned by the current title-holder for many years. It’s got some rust, yes, but otherwise the body is straight (and coated with the now extra-powderey original Powder Blue paint), most of the exterior trim is intact, and the interior oozes originality wrapped in a state of Arrested Decay!

I didn’t have time to fully analyze the evidence on driver’s and front passenger doors, but it appears that there were some kind of matching decal or appliqué previously occupying the position (the paint getting somewhat damaged upon their removal). Doubtful that these were racing identification numbers, the suggestion is that, in it’s first deployment, it was used as a field vehicle for some company, or government / corporate institution. Might be interesting to know who it was…

That multi-colored array of affixed license plate tag sticker background remnants—posing as some sort of an impromptu drivers door edge guard—would seem to indicate that the present owner has enjoyed the care, feeding and operation of this example for in excess of a few decades!

Whether this person ever considered undertaking a restoration of the vehicle is speculation; but if I were the owner, I’d do as he or she is doing, and just leave it as it is. The kind of funky patina this ‘lara is exhibiting is unique, and worth preserving in its present guise. Why mess with such Bocacious Funkitude?!!

Expertly collected and commented by Phil Coconis, this is the second of many BODACIOUS BEATERS and road-going derelicts, an assemblage of the still driveable near-dead.

Phil has written features and columns for a number of automotive periodicals and web-based information companies. He has run a successful Auto Repair Business in the past for many years (See “Memoirs of an Independent Repair Shop Owner” on this TTAC site). He can be contacted through this very site, or

Phil Coconis
Phil Coconis

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  • Luvmyv8 Luvmyv8 on Dec 05, 2012

    Ah, the Dodge Polara. I don't like the earlier ones (like the one here) but give me a '69 Polara and I'd be in my automotive happy place. The '69 Polara was one of the fastest police cars and even to this day would keep up with the Chargers, Eco-Boost Fords and the Caprice. The CHP used this car and it was only beaten many years later by the '94 9C1 Caprice with the LT1. Yes, the Polara was faster then the CHP Mustang 5.0's, a car that I grew up in awe of. The CHP Polara came with the 440 Magnum, rated at 375 hp, bolted to the Torque Flight transmission. Even in 1969 with the tires of the era, this car could reach a verified 147 MPH, from a fullsize car no less. Some Chippies even say it went faster then that. Plus it was just damn intimidating. Not much could get away from it then, it was meant for intercepting muscle cars and it did so easily.

  • Corey Lewis Corey Lewis on Dec 17, 2012

    I really like the trail-down at the back of the rear fender. There were lenses there looks like, but did they light up too? That's really the only thing I like about this car, though. Ha.

  • Varezhka I have still yet to see a Malibu on the road that didn't have a rental sticker. So yeah, GM probably lost money on every one they sold but kept it to boost their CAFE numbers.I'm personally happy that I no longer have to dread being "upgraded" to a Maxima or a Malibu anymore. And thankfully Altima is also on its way out.
  • Tassos Under incompetent, affirmative action hire Mary Barra, GM has been shooting itself in the foot on a daily basis.Whether the Malibu cancellation has been one of these shootings is NOT obvious at all.GM should be run as a PROFITABLE BUSINESS and NOT as an outfit that satisfies everybody and his mother in law's pet preferences.IF the Malibu was UNPROFITABLE, it SHOULD be canceled.More generally, if its SEGMENT is Unprofitable, and HALF the makers cancel their midsize sedans, not only will it lead to the SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST ones, but the survivors will obviously be more profitable if the LOSERS were kept being produced and the SMALL PIE of midsize sedans would yield slim pickings for every participant.SO NO, I APPROVE of the demise of the unprofitable Malibu, and hope Nissan does the same to the Altima, Hyundai with the SOnata, Mazda with the Mazda 6, and as many others as it takes to make the REMAINING players, like the Excellent, sporty Accord and the Bulletproof Reliable, cheap to maintain CAMRY, more profitable and affordable.
  • GregLocock Car companies can only really sell cars that people who are new car buyers will pay a profitable price for. As it turns out fewer and fewer new car buyers want sedans. Large sedans can be nice to drive, certainly, but the number of new car buyers (the only ones that matter in this discussion) are prepared to sacrifice steering and handling for more obvious things like passenger and cargo space, or even some attempt at off roading. We know US new car buyers don't really care about handling because they fell for FWD in large cars.
  • Slavuta Why is everybody sweating? Like sedans? - go buy one. Better - 2. Let CRV/RAV rust on the dealer lot. I have 3 sedans on the driveway. My neighbor - 2. Neighbors on each of our other side - 8 SUVs.
  • Theflyersfan With sedans, especially, I wonder how many of those sales are to rental fleets. With the exception of the Civic and Accord, there are still rows of sedans mixed in with the RAV4s at every airport rental lot. I doubt the breakdown in sales is publicly published, so who knows... GM isn't out of the sedan business - Cadillac exists and I can't believe I'm typing this but they are actually decent - and I think they are making a huge mistake, especially if there's an extended oil price hike (cough...Iran...cough) and people want smaller and hybrids. But if one is only tied to the quarterly shareholder reports and not trends and the big picture, bad decisions like this get made.