Junkyard Find: 1963 Dodge Polara 4-door Hardtop
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.
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.
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.
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