1963 Dodge Polara 500
The Polara 500 I own is only one of 5,676 two door hardtops made in 1963. I own another I bought as a parts car that is the same primary color known as Polar, but with a different secondary color or trim color known as cordovan poly. The trim color of my car is called slate turquoise poly. I know of another car from the Houston area that is the same Polar color with a vermillion colored trim.
Anyway, mine originally came equipped with power widows, am radio, tinted glass, power steering and brakes, air conditioning, aux-emergency brake indicator light, automatic transmission and the optional 383 cubic inches, four barrel carb. The old 383 ran fine, but was tired.
When I bought the car my goal was to keep the original color scheme's inside and out, but to upgrade to more power for more fun. Gas mileage wasn't a consideration since I rarely leave my immediate area. So I picked the more traditional route by building a 440 cubic inches bored .030 over to 446 cubic inches. One of the hardest things for me to do was to stay focused on the fact that the car had be built to run fast, but not at the expense of reliability, or derivability. So that left out things like radical camshafts, high compression pistons, transbrakes etc. I came real close to installing a transbrake and had to pinch myself. So, having mentioned those near mistakes, this is what I did.
The motor again is a 440 cu. in bored .030 over with 9 to 1 compression ratio cast pistons. It's a 1971 block with a 284 degree 484 inch lift street hemi camshaft. The crankshaft is steel, and there is a street hemi 1/2 inch oil pick-up tube. The oil pan is a reproduction Max-Wedge 6 qt. The heads also are 71's that have been pocket ported, and hard seats installed with 2.14 inch stainless intake, and 1.81 inch stainless exhaust valves. The wasted exhaust gases exit via CPPA 2 inch totally under chassis headers with 2 1/2 inch pipes swedging down to 2 1/4 inch reproduction street hemi mufflers. On the induction side is a new Carter 750 cfm sitting on a new dual plane aluminum Mopar Performance M-1 intake.
The original push button transmission utilizes a late model front oil pump assembly and a Turbo-Action 11 inch torque converter. It also has been retrofitted with a 1965 slip-yoke style output shaft and output shaft housing. The transmission was rebuilt with a Turbo-Action rebuild kit, and incorporates a street hemi governor shift weight for automatic upshifts in the 5800 to 6000 rpm range, depending on the tires I'm running at the time.
This transfers through a 1965 Polara driveshaft down to a 1965 8 3/4 inch rear with a 742 carrier spinning 3.91 to 1 gears on a Dana Power-Lock limited slip unit. That's the good rebuildable unit with the clutch pack. The axles are stock, but spin on the newer ball bearings known as Green bearings. This is all hung up there by Mopar Performance super stock springs with an adjustable Mopar Performance pinion snubber.
The brakes on the car have been upgraded from 10 inch x 2 1/2 inch drums to 11 inch x 3 inch drums. Since the car weighs approximately 3850 pounds, and is driven primarily on the street, the change to the larger brakes was an appreciable improvement in braking. The car is shod with Weld Racing Drag Light wheels 15 inch x 8 inch with 4 1/2 inches of backspacing on the rear, with 275 x 6O t/a radials. On front are 15 inch x 6 inch with 3 1/2 inch backspacing and 235 x 6O t/a radials. At the track I run Goodyear 28 inch x 9 inch slicks on another pair of Drag Lites with the same specs as my street tires ride on.
The car was recently reupholstered using Legendary reproduction seat covers in the original dark white and turquoise color scheme. One of the last remaining projects is to replace a badly cracked dash pad and radio speaker grille.
I take the car to the track and run it about once a year. It had a problem miss at the upper end of the scale and still managed to run upper 13s with a best of 13.579 at 101.01 mph. I have since found the problem, but haven't as yet been back to the track. With the present gearing the car is loafing as it passes through the traps at 5000 rpm., so I am sure a lower gear, maybe a 4.10 or 4.30 to 1 would really wake up my e.t.'s, but then there's that old conservative voice telling me It's just a low compression street car, dummy.
In the beginning my objective was an early B-body street car running an occasional 13 second quarter mile. I was completely satisfied with the results.
Update, Fall, 1997: Gary Hamel found a hood locally for Jimmy and Jimmy upgraded the '63 to give it the 'Ramcharger' look:
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