Junkyard Find: 1963 Dodge Polara 4-door Hardtop

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

Chrysler began building cars on the midsize B-Body platform for the 1962 model year, and production continued all the way through the final B-based Cordobas and Magnums in 1979. Today's Junkyard Find is one of the earliest Dodge B-Bodies: a 1963 Polara spotted in a Silicon Valley self-service yard last fall.

The Dodge Dart spent 1962 on the B platform but moved to the smaller A platform starting in 1963. That didn't mean that the Dodge Division was short on B-Bodies that year, though, because each trim level of this car got its own model name.

The cheapest member of the Dodge B family for '63 was the 330, which started at just $2,245 for a two-door sedan with a Slant-6 engine under the hood (about $22,093 in 2023 dollars). Then there was the snazzier 440, which started at $2,381 ($23,432 now).

At the very top of the 1963 Dodge B-Body pyramid was the Polara 500. This car is a one-notch-below-that Polara 4-door hardtop, which started at $2,781 ($27,368 today) and came with a V8 engine as standard equipment.

Plymouth's 1963 siblings of this car were the Savoy, Belvedere and Fury. The '63 Savoy was dirt cheap, priced at $2,206 ($21,710 in 2023 dollars) for the two-door post sedan.

I found a 1963 Polara two-door hardtop in a Colorado yard a couple of years back, but it was in much rougher condition than this four-door.

This car has the kind of rust you see in coastal California, where rainwater sneaks in past rotted weatherstripping and corrodes the trunk floor and lower body.

The interior is what you'd expect to see in a 60-year-old car that spent a decade or three waiting in a yard or driveway for repairs that never came.

The base engine in the 1963 Polara was a 318-cubic-inch (5.2-liter) A-series V8, commonly known as the "Poly 318" for its polyspherical combustion chambers. This car has some flavor of B-series big-block V8; if it's the original engine, then the two-barrel intake tells us we're looking at a 383 (6.3-liter) rated at 305 horsepower and 410 pound-feet. Keep in mind that those are optimistic gross, not net numbers.

Of course, cars like this got engine swaps on a regular basis, so this could be a 361 or 440 or anything in between. I didn't feel like scraping away decades of crud to find casting numbers. The hairiest factory-installed engine available in the 1963 Polara was a Max Wedge 426 with dual four-barrel carburetors and 425 horsepower, but you're not going to find one of those at your local Pick-n-Pull.

The base transmission was a three-speed column-shift manual, but it stands to reason that a Polara shopper willing to pay extra for the big-block engine was also going to insist on an automatic transmission, and that's what we have here.

You can just make out the pushbutton-style gearshift below the gas gauge in this photo.

This clock probably stopped working while LBJ was still in the White House.

Radios sold in the United States between 1953 and 1964 were required to have the CONELRAD nuclear-attack frequencies (640 and 1240 kHz) marked with triangle-in-circle symbols. When no Soviet bombers were on the way, this radio could be used to listen to the hits of 1963 on its scratchy single speaker.

In an ideal world, someone would have saved this car and put it back on the street. The good news is that my friend Belvedere Adrian went and yanked some parts off of it before it faced The Crusher.

If you like 'em tough, quick, smart… see your Dodge dealer for The Dependables.

If your Polara had GoodYear Double Eagle tires, you could drive over land mines and keep going.

[Images: Seller]

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Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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3 of 24 comments
  • Spamvw Spamvw on Mar 14, 2023

    Yep it did, had it on a t-shirt in the late sixties as young lad. But the basis for the name was the chassis is what I learned.

    • Jeff S Jeff S on Mar 14, 2023

      That definitely brings back memories. Dodge had some really hot cars in the 60s to the early 70s. Saw a number of these in the parking lot of my high school but the the Road Runner was the most prevalent they were inexpensive new at the time and you could get a fast car. Saw a number of Chevelle SS, Pontiac GTOs, and 442s as well and a few Mustangs but the Road Runners were the popular car to get.

  • Bobbysirhan Bobbysirhan on Mar 14, 2023

    A friend of mine had a car similar to this one almost 30 years ago. The 2 barrel B-series that came standard in his was a 361. It had enough power to have fun sliding around on dirty roads and could even finish a corner on the pavement. IIRC, what killed it off was a failed back axle that couldn't be found in an area parts yard by 1995.

  • Vulpine My first pickup truck was a Mitsubishi Sport... able to out-accelerate the French Fuego turbo by Renault at the time. I really liked the brand back then because they built a model for every type of driver, including the rather famous 300/3000GT AWD sports car (a car I really wanted, but couldn't afford.)
  • Vulpine A sedan version of either car makes it no longer that car. We've already seen this with the Mustang Mach-E and almost nobody acknowledges it as a Mustang.
  • Vulpine Not just Chevy, but GM has been shooting itself in the foot for the last three decades. They've already had to be rescued once in that period, and if they keep going as they are, they will need another rescue... assuming the US govt. will willing to lose more money on them.
  • W Conrad Sedans have been fine for me, but I were getting a new car, it would be an SUV. Not only because less sedans available, but I can't see around them in my sedan!
  • Slavuta More hatchbacks