Dodge Polara Second generation
|1962 to 1964|
|Assembly||Detroit, Michigan, United States|
|Body and chassis|
|Body style||4-door sedan 2-door coupe 2-door convertible 4-door station wagon 4-door Hardtop|
|Wheelbase||1962: 2,946 mm (116.0 in) 1963-64: 3,023 mm (119.0 in)|
All Dodge models were given a smaller, lighter, sculpted body with a 116-inch (2,946 mm) wheelbase for 1962. This move came after Chrysler's president overheard and misunderstood Chevrolet chief Ed Cole to have said Chevrolet's largest cars would be downsized for 1962. Chrysler designers were forced to take the planned 1962 Dodge full-size line and shorten the design to fit a more compact wheelbase in a last-minute effort to compete with what was supposed to be a smaller new Chevrolet. However, Chevrolet in fact offered a range of truly full-size cars for 1962, and Dodge and Plymouth alike were stuck with smaller cars the public and motoring press found stylistically awkward. The new Dodge models were sized closer to Ford's new intermediate Fairlane than to Ford's or GM's full-size models.
Quickly realizing the critical mistake they had made, Dodge hurriedly put together a new full-size car using the front end from the 1961 Dodge Polara and the body from the 1962 Chrysler. This new full-size model was known as the Custom 880, and became Dodge's top-of-the-line model when it was introduced on January 21, 1962. In 1963 a lower specification version was offered, known simply the Dodge 880. A/C was $455.
Dodge Polara Second generation 1962 side view
Among the "sized in the middle of the big and little" 1962 Dodges was a bucket-seated sporty 2-door hardtop called the Polara 500. It was also available as a convertible, and a 4-door hardtop was added in December. Positioned beneath the Polara 500 in descending order were the Dart 440 and the Dart 330. These models were marketed in Canada as the Dodge 440 and Dodge 330, and a Canada-only basic-spec Dodge 220 model was offered as well.
Dodge Polara 500 Second generation 1962
This model proved somewhat popular, but Dodge failed to capitalize on its success and never developed it to its full potential. The Dodges were available with optional V8 engines of up to 413 cu in (6.8 L). These mid-sized Dodges (and similar models from Plymouth) competed successfully as stock cars in NASCAR races, where their smaller size and lighter weight gave them an advantage over the larger competitive cars from Ford and General Motors.
The basic body of the 1962 model continued until 1964, revised and lengthened by the new Chrysler Vice President of styling Elwood Engel. The Polara range eventually grew to include a 4-door sedan. The Polara 500 was available only as a convertible or hardtop coupé.
For the 1963 model year, the wheelbase was increased to 119 inches (3,023 mm) and the car received new sheet metal. The Dart name was reassigned to Dodge's line of compact cars that had previously been known as the Dodge Lancer. Positioned below the Polara were the plain 440 and 330. The 1964 models received a revised front end and new tail lamps to distinguish them from the 1963 cars. Rear end treatment took its inspiration from the Chevrolet Impala, the Polara models now featuring six small, square-shaped taillights (three on each side) surrounded by an attractive bright trim panel. Lesser big Dodges featured only four taillights (two on each side) and lacked the bright trim panel. A sensational new "C" pillar for the hardtop coupes, combined with the more attractive front and rear end styling, made the '64s look totally new (and longer/ lower/wider as well), resulting in a significant increase of sales over 1963.
Dodge Polara Second generation 1963 rear view
1964 Dodge Polara in James Bond You Only Live Twice (1967)