HomePick of the Day’56 Dodge D-500 is street version of NASCAR racer

’56 Dodge D-500 is street version of NASCAR racer


In 1956, Dodge won 11 NASCAR stock car races, set speed records at Bonneville and class records in drag racing with its Custom Royal Lancer D-500 model powered by a “Super Red Ram” V8 engine.

One of those cars, a 1956 Dodge Custom Royal Lancer D-500, is Pick of the Day, advertised for sale by its private owner in Prattville, Alabama. Lancer was Dodge’s name for its hardtop (no B-pillar) sedans.

The Red Ram was Dodge’s most powerful engine, a Hemi-headed 315cid V8 topped in D-500 guise by dual Carter 4-barrel carburetors “with progressive linkage, Offenhauser intake manifold, dual Red Ram air cleaners,” the seller reports in the car’s advertisement on ClassicCars.com. The engine was factory rated at 295 horsepower.

1956 Dodge Custom Royal Lancer D-500, ’56 Dodge D-500 is street version of NASCAR racer, ClassicCars.com Journal

“We know that at least 500 D-500s were produced as homologation cars for NASCAR,” the seller reports. “How many actually still exist is not known. 

“You can think of the D-500 as the forerunner to the Dodge Daytona or Plymouth Superbird. The D-500 denotes the most powerful engine from Dodge for 1956. Just like the 426 Hemi was the most powerful engine from Dodge in the 60s.”

“The Dodge D-500 was developed under Chrysler President W.C. Newberg by Carl Kiekhaefer of Kiekhaefer Racing. The styling was by Virgil Exner.”

1956 Dodge Custom Royal Lancer D-500, ’56 Dodge D-500 is street version of NASCAR racer, ClassicCars.com Journal
1956 Dodge Custom Royal Lancer D-500, ’56 Dodge D-500 is street version of NASCAR racer, ClassicCars.com Journal

The seller reports that the engine is original to the car and is linked to a 3-speed push-button Power Flite automatic transmission. 

“The actual race car version is known as a D-500-1. My car is the street version, not unlike the Daytona or Superbird street cars,” the seller notes. “The D-500 is a muscle car from the time before the term was coined.”

The seller says the car “starts, run, drives and stops the way a car from the mid-50s should. Even though there is no power steering, this is one of the nicest steering cars I have driven.”

“The interior is all original according to the previous owner and looks excellent,” the seller adds. 

“The car had a thorough body on restoration approximately 10 years ago… I am a driver/hobbyist not a collector… I’ve driven the car regularly and enjoy driving it.”

The seller believes the 33,000 miles showing on the odometer to be the correct mileage figure for the car, which was ordered with the “radio delete” option.

The car is offered for $56,000. To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day.

Larry Edsall
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.


  1. My High School Auto Shop Teacher had one of these and he had ‘Massaged’ the engine and claimed that the engine put out 1 Horse Power per cubic inch ! He claimed that with a little distributor work by Vic Hubbard and a set of Hooker Headers was all he needed to get it. True or not, I don’t know but he did give me a ride in it once and "IT" was a Screamer !

    • Right as rain! That’s all it needed! I helped my buddy go one or two steps further with 2fours and a Duntov cam and lifters the engine put out 340 hp from 315 ci!

  2. As teenager growing up in Waukegan, Ill. my dad owned a ’56 Dodge that looked just like the one shown here. Even the same colors. It was the first car I ever drove. How fun to see it featured here.

    • Very nice my wife of 55 years, We had a 56 Dodge Coronet 2 dr hardtop which is the first car she learned to drive. It also had the 4 button transmission selector which is only a 2 speed transmission. I had just sold a 56 DeSoto with 4 button transmission (2 Speed).

  3. So many things wrong with this sellers description. The D500 was a model unto itself until Dodge watered it down to an option in late 1955. There were thousands of cars made with the D500 option. Carl Kiekhaefer had more to do with NASCAR and less to do with Chrysler and even less with Dodge. This car has the completely incorrect air cleaners and without seeing the IBM card to back up his claim, the engine is NOT a D500 block. It’s a clone!

  4. Andrew Bloch is correct! The 1956 Dodge shown in the pictures above is a clone … but a very good one! in 2007 or 2008 I bought this Dodge from a assistant deputy district attorney located in Twenty Nine Palms, Calif. I had the car shipped to our residence in Spokane, Wash. I doubt if it is a matching numbers D500 engine. I believe it was all Mopar except for the the manifold, but not original parts. I don’t know if it was/or is a D550 block, but it is a correct 315 Mopar block. The engine was rebuilt with a mild cam. It ran very strong when I had it. I paid $15,000 for the car. I sold it to a gentleman located in Coeur D’ Alene, id in 2011 or 2012 for $28,000. He took it to the Barrett Jackson auto auction the following January. It sold for $41,800. It is/was a very good solid car. I regret selling it.

  5. This Dodge Coronet D500 is a clone … but a very good one.The badging for this 1956 D500 are correct. I believe the carburetors were correct. Don’t know about the block. The transmission is correct. The manifold was an Offenhauser. i dispute that there we’re thousands of 1956 D500’s in production. If that were the case, the D500’s would not be rare … but they are definitely rare!I I bought this Dodge in 2007. I bought it from a Asst. District Attorney who lived in Twenty Nine Palms, Calif. I had the car shipped to our home in Spokane, Wash. I paid $15,000 for the Dodge. In 2010 I sold the Dodge to a collector in Coeur d’ Alene, Id. He paid $28.000 for the Dodge. In 2011 He took the car to the Barrett Jackson Auction. The Dodge sold for $41,800. That 56 Dodge was an award winner. Old cars Price Guide currently values the1956 D500 Coronet in a N0. 2 condition at $28875. No. 1 condition at $41,250. To my knowledge the air cleaners are Mopar for 57 & 58 Dodges D500’s & maybe DeSoto’s. To my knowledge every other thing on this Dodge is correct. I wish I still had it!!

  6. I own it. Not represented as numbers matching. Correct carbs with tags and it is a D500 block. Look at the pics. Manifold not correct. Air cleaner system not correct. You Can put a correct system on it. The history on the D500 is furnished by Chrysler archives. So, if you dispute Karl Kiekenhaffer’s role, you would need to take that up with Chrysler. There were not thousands of 1956 D500s made. Later on there were. Real car with a few mods. Radio delete, big drums and suspension.

  7. I agree with all the others about the incorrect intake parts. It is 1957 manifold and air cleaners and progressive linkage, and probably carbs. Possibly a 57 D500 block that came with those parts. We could tell if we had the engine S/N. And yes, there were thousands of D500s made in 1956. I have engine S/N D500-8120 (cast June 1956), and since they started with D500-1001, that makes at least 7,000+ made. Oh, and the generator is not D500 either. And PowerFlites are not 3-speeds. And “Super Red Ram” engines were the 315 cid Polys in 56. There were only about 100 D500-1 2×4 carb manifolds made for 56. If you can find one, they start around $2000 minimum. Air cleaners for 56 2×4 are even more rare, as most were thrown away. “Radio delete” is not an option, it is standard. The radio was the option. However, even with all of the above issues, this looks like a very nice car.

  8. Nice looking 1956 Dodge Coronet 2dht (normal)
    looks like some one made a nice copy of a option pack coronet d-500 that is not the same thing as a 1956 Dodge D-500-1 and that has Nothing to do with no option package of a coronet too get better selling normal cars with the extra name from the Race cars of the day back then..
    + the Brakes are not from Imperial on a 1956 Dodge D-500-1 they were special drum brakes made for the nasscar model..
    I know tryed to buy parts for one with no luck.. so I fixed the orginal brake cylinder.. it was easyer then I was thinking..
    the drums them self are only for the 56 D-500-1 but I will not tell any special things about the car or any numbers course they Sadly make Fake Copy`s of the Orginal ones..

  9. Sorry,# of intakes 2×4 cast was 100 per Danny & kiekaefer org. try to get a copy of WPC news vol-27 #9 may 1996 all you will ever need on 1956 Dodge D500 & D500-1 info

  10. I owned this car, new. Except mine was a convertible, special order. Yellow, and also stick shift. I was 17. I told my dad that the car would get better gas mileage if it was a “stick”.

  11. I owned this car, new. Except mine was a convertible, special order. Yellow, and also stick shift. I was 17. I told my dad that the car would get better gas mileage if it was a “stick”.


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