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

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1956 Dodge

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.

“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.”

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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.

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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.

5 COMMENTS

  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 !

  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!

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