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AJ's Car of the Day '56 Dodge Custom Royal Lancer
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Car: Dodge Custom Royal Lancer

Year: 1956

What makes it special: Beginning in 1955, Dodge's lineup, consisting of the entry-level Coronet, Royal, and dressy Custom Royal, was a major departure for the company. Driven almost out of business in 1953 and 1954, the Chrysler Corporation was revived with a $250 million loan from Prudential and new models designed by Virgil Exner. The Dodge lineup was positioned as the mainstream line in Chrysler's hierarchy, between DeSoto and Plymouth.

What made it famous: The flagship model was the Custom Royal. All hardtop coupe and Custom Royal-only convertible models were called "Custom Royal Lancer", and the "Custom Royal" sedan gained the Lancer badge soon after its introduction as well. The Custom line featured unique chrome tailfins although early model year cars went without this trim, special tail light surrounds, and an upscale interior. Backup lights were standard on the Custom line but optional on all others. The Custom Royal also featured the Hemi 270 cu in Super Red Ram V8 engine. Two transmissions were offered: a 3-speed manual with optional overdrive and Chrysler's 2-speed PowerFlite automatic. The PowerFlite was controlled by a dash-mounted lever, though this was changed to a push-button setup for 1956. The cars used a special coil spring/kingpin suspension in front and regular leaf springs and a live axle at the rear. Power steering was optional. A six-volt electrical system was updated to 12 volts in 1956.

Why I would want one: It's not only very good looking, but as they say: "It's got a Hemi !"

Fun fact: The "La Femme" was a special package oriented towards women Dodge buyers. It came in Heather Rose and Sapphire White colors and included a cape, boots, umbrella, and shoulder bag that matched the floral tapestry-like fabrics. Changes to the car include built-in compartments in the seatbacks to hold these accessories.

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