HomeFeatured VehiclesPick of the Day: 1959 Dodge Coronet Lancer

Pick of the Day: 1959 Dodge Coronet Lancer

The third time’s the charm?


When you evaluate a design, do you generally feel the first of a generation is the best? Or do you think it’s a good rule of thumb that incremental improvements over several model years make for a better look? Our Pick of the Day, a 1959 Dodge Coronet Lancer two-door, evaluates this hypothesis. It is listed for sale on by a dealer in Westford, Massachusetts. (Click the link to view the listing)

Out of all the Forward Look Chrysler Corporation products introduced for the 1957 model year, the Dodge was arguably the most polarizing due to its front end. But, if I recall from a book I had from my childhood (probably Consumer Guide’s Cars of the ‘60s), it was articulated that Dodge was such a “stick in the mud”-kind of brand earlier in the decade that the company had no choice but to be bold. There’s some truth in that, but the bigger truth is that all the post-1948 K.T. Keller-era Chrysler Corporation products suffered from that position through 1954.

When it comes to the theory I’ve presented above, I feel the 1959 Dodge wins by a landslide, but I understand why someone may prefer the 1957-58s. Certainly the Dodge with the domineering front end looks angry and bothered. Dodge considered it “an exciting new look” with “sweeping chrome hoods over dual headlamps. The massive wrap-around bumpers. The parking light pods … everything in the best of taste.” What did they say about beauty being in the eye of the beholder? “Jet-trail tail lamps add a dashing flair to the ’59 Dodge.” From the vestigial versions starting in 1955 to the fully realized ones that appeared in 1957, it seems that, for 1959, Dodge designers held the car from both ends and stretched it for an exaggerated look that was quite distinctive.

The Coronet was once again the cheapest trim level, with the Royal and Custom Royal rising up in the hierarchy. The Lancer name often confuses people as they often think it’s a model, but it was solely used to designate the hardtop body style.

The Chrysler Corporation made headlines in 1959 for introducing wedge-head V8s to replace the Hemis that it had produced since 1951. In the case of Dodge, the Coronet was available with the “Get-Away Six” or one of several V8s, with the 255-horsepower 326 being the base V8. It was derived from the A-engine commonly used on Plymouths since 1955, but a 361 and 383 were available in various states of tune, with the Super D-500 383 offering 345 with dual-quads. (Take note that Canadian Dodges have a different engine lineage.)

This 44,000-mile Rose Quartz and Pearl 1959 Dodge Coronet Lancer two-door appears to be owned by the dealer selling the car. “This was a true barn find when he got it. This car has a nice-running V8 engine” and, though it is not specified, I’ll go out on a limb and suggest it’s the 326 based on the location of the distributor. Best of all, it’s controlled by Chrysler Corporation’s push-button automatic! “The chrome and stainless appears to be original and driver-quality,” adds the seller. “Interior appears original, and in good shape for the year.”

Super-zoomy Exner vehicles can get into the six-figure range quite easily. This one, with classic 1950s colors and what appears to be good bones, is only $33,900. That’s quite a nice find for a car that, according to this guy, disrupts the theory I presented. Of course, my affinity for 1957 Chrysler, DeSoto, and Imperial models are for another time.

Click here for this Pick of the Day.

Diego Rosenberg
Diego Rosenberg
Lead Writer Diego Rosenberg is a native of Wilmington, Delaware and Princeton, New Jersey, giving him plenty of exposure to the charms of Carlisle and Englishtown. Though his first love is Citroen, he fell for muscle cars after being seduced by 1950s finned flyers—in fact, he’s written two books on American muscle. But please don’t think there is a strong American bias because foreign weirdness is never far from his heart. With a penchant for underground music from the 1960-70s, Diego and his family reside in metropolitan Phoenix.


  1. I think it’s a great original design ( the upper fins look a bit as ads on but just get away with it- not like the studebaker packards)
    Overall a futuristic looking car and indeed very different from the stodgy dodges before. I bet Virgil Exner and his staff may have had fun designing it. The other forward designs may have been more elegant but the Dodge is playful and complex

  2. It maybe over the top for some but this is a sheer beauty to me and the price isn’t bad considering what some would want for total rust buckets close to the price of this beauty. If I had the money this might be in my driveway!

  3. I was 5 years old when one of our neighbors would take my brother and I to church in one of these.
    Even at that age I could tell ell the interior was tacky and poorly put together.

  4. 59 was a great year for Exners fabulous finned fantasies for Chrysler. To me Dodge and DeSoto were the best. DeSoto ADVENTURER was magnificent. Dodge was not far behind. Tri tone color combos were stunning! Unfortunately DeSoto was dropped after a short 61 run of 3200. And Dodge now concentrates on trucks, not really bearing Dodge name, replaced by RAM.


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