Once a Controversial Car, the 1963 Dodge Polara Is Now a Bold yet Elegant Classic

Chrysler built some of the coolest cars out there in the late 1960s. Whether we’re talking about the Dodge Dart and Charger or the Plymouth Barracuda and GTX, they all had the looks and the power to stand out in the crowded muscle car market. But things were a bit different in the early 1960s when Mopar made a few strange decisions in the design department.

Introduced in 1957, Virgil Exner’s “Forward Look” styling language turned the somewhat mundane-looking Chrysler Corporation cars into the most appealing vehicles on offer. This trend continued until 1960, when big rear fins went out of fashion Exner’s team was encouraged to take it up a notch.

The decision brought a rather controversial Plymouth Belvedere into showrooms. Dubbed “jukebox on wheels,” the redesigned Belvedere featured horizontal fins integrated into the front and rear fenders and a heavily sculpted front fascia. While distinctive and exotic, the redesign proved unpopular and Plymouth sales dropped.

The Dodge Polara also got a similar overhaul in 1962, when Chrysler downsized its full-size car lineup. While not quite as radical as the 1960 Belvedere, the 1962 Polara also embraced the horizontally-finned fender look. Dodge went with a cleaner, simpler design for the 1963 model year, but the Polara remained polarizing due to its massive, six-slat front grille and individual, round headlamps pushed to the sides.

Dodge moved almost 40,000 Polaras that year, a disappointing figure compared to the competition. Chevrolet, for instance, sold a whopping 186,500 Biscaynes and more than a half-million Impalas in 1963.

Come 2022 and these early 1960s Polaras are getting a lot more attention from Mopar fans. Yes, it’s the super-rare Max Wedge version that’s getting all the big bucks at auctions, but the regular Polara is becoming a more common sight at classic car shows. That’s a sign that the Polara is one of those classics that’s evolved from controversial to appealing. And I’d dare say that the simpler 1963 version sports quite the elegant profile, especially in convertible guise.

The light blue drop-top you see here is perhaps the perfect example to illustrate this point. A fabulous survivor with relatively low mileage and a fresh coat of paint, this Polara is proof that you don’t need an expensive Chrysler 300 “letter series” model to impress Mopar gearheads at the local cars and coffee.

And because it’s not a race-spec Max Wedge version, it’s also pretty quiet and comfortable, despite still having a V8 under the hood. But the A-series, 318-cubic-inch (5.2-liter) mill comes to life when the pedal hits the floor, so this elegant convertible is also somewhat of a sleeper. Watch it sitting pretty and hear it rev its old and original V8 in the video below. 

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