HomePick of the DayTailfin treasure: 1959 Dodge Coronet hardtop survivor

Tailfin treasure: 1959 Dodge Coronet hardtop survivor


Coming at the end of a decade of dramatic change in automotive styling, 1959 was the premier year for American cars sprouting oversized tailfins.  One of the masters of tailfin design was Chrysler’s Virgil Exner, a visionary stylist who pioneered the automaker’s “forward-look” cars.

The Pick of the Day is a prime example of that wonderful time of excess, a 1959 Dodge Coronet two-door hardtop with one of the greatest set of fins ever created, a cross between faux rocket engines and a bird in flight.

The Dodge was part of Virgil Exner’s ‘Forward Look’ design scheme

This Dodge, advertised on ClassicCars.com by a private seller in Loveland, Colorado, is described as an original survivor that has been mechanically sorted by could use some cosmetic upgrades.

“I found this car in 2014 at an auction in Missouri,” the seller says in the ad. “The owner had found it in storage for 25 years and then had it 10 years planning on restoring it, but he died before he got to it.

The car has all its original parts and finishes, the seller says, and has been driven just under 67,000 miles.  The huge, 59-year-old hardtop is complete and presentable, the seller says, and it runs well after its mechanical refurbishing.

The hardtop is said to be an original survivor that’s been mechanically sorted

“The glass is all like new, all of the gauges except the fuel work,” the ad says. “The radio works but has ignition noise. The trim is all there but has some pitting in various places. There is no rust and it does not show any signs of having been wrecked.

“I had to replace the entire fuel system from the tank to the carb. I replaced the brake system including shoes, cylinders, lines and master. The front end was completely rebuilt and it has new air shocks in the rear. The engine (326cid V8) was flushed and new freeze plugs put in, and given new plugs and points and rotor.

“The Powerflyte (automatic transmission) was flushed and refilled with a new filter. The radiator is an aluminum aftermarket but I have the original that can be re-cored included. The exhaust was replaced from the original cast headers back with duals with Magnaflow mufflers and chrome tips.”

Power is provided by a 326cid V8

The interior is in good shape aside from some small seam splits, which the seller says are repairable. The wheels are fitted with Kelsey Hayes wire-wheel hubcaps and new wide-whitewall tires. 

The car starts and runs as it should, the seller says, and cruises easily at highway speeds.  The only downsides are the non-power steering and brakes, and the absence of air-conditioning, all of which could be easily remedied.

The asking price is $25,000, which gets you a set of the showiest tailfins in town.

To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day.                                                            

Bob Golfen
Bob Golfen
Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle. He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs. A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.



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