440 Sleeper! 1966 Dodge Coronet Deluxe

Other than being a two-door and having a strip of chrome down the side, this Dodge is about as plain as you could get in 1966. However, anyone disregarding this dinosaur as a ho-hum relic may be surprised. The 1966 Dodge Coronet Deluxe in Vancouver, Washington hides a non-original 440 cid V8 and other upgrades within its oh-so-’60s turquoise exterior. Listed at auction here on eBay, the green machine has attracted at least a dozen bids and risen above $8000. Our thanks to reader Ikey H.’s always-keen eye for an interesting classic.

The “Deluxe” trim level sat just above the base Coronet, below the “440” and “500” packages. The Deluxe gets the chrome belt strip and a few other niceties. Years ago I owned a four-door Coronet 440 in this color, and had dreams of running it on the open roads of the Silver State Classic Challenge. That dream never materialized for me, but I can’t help but drool a little over this 440-powered Deluxe. Mine had the “dog dish” hub caps which would look perfect on this low-budget Dodge.

Dodge didn’t bring the 440 to its Coronet until 1967, but it looks perfectly at home in the B-body engine bay. This car’s owner wisely upgraded to disc brakes and a dual-circuit master cylinder. The VIN decoder at degeneratepress.com indicates a 225 cid (3.7L) one-barrel B-code inline six-cylinder engine originally powered this economy-minded Deluxe. Only the bare aluminum intake deviates from the all-factory cosmetic impression. Jay Leno fans may recognize the similarities between this car and his wicked Hemi-powered version.

I spent many hours facing a nearly-identical dashboard. Once I performed exploratory surgery of the steering column and inverted a tiny worn metal bar inside the reverse-light switch to correct the recalcitrant backup lights. Giant vents in each kick panel provide enough fresh air to eschew air conditioning and keep the windows up even on a 90-degree day, as long as you keep moving! Where my car featured twin five-point harnesses, 50+ year-old lap belts cinch you down to the comfy bench seat of this beast. I like this honest 440-transplanted Dodge. Does it remind you of any “sleepers” from your past?

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Comments

  1. Superdessucke

    Ok, I think it’s safe to put the “sleeper” label to bed with cars like this. Sure, maybe in the 60s and 70s it would have been a sleeper but now? Anybody who pulls up next.to this is going to look over and say “what the f*** is that???” Especially with a 440 rumble, which sounds nothing like any vehicle put on the road in nearly 4 decades. It’s very cool but no one’s going to be surprised it’s fast.

    11
    • CCFisher

      A agree. A sleeper has to blend into the crowd. This does not blend.

      I had a 2005 Accord coupe for many years. It had no scoops, no stripes, no spoiler. Many mistook it for a 1999-2002 Mercury Cougar. Under the hood, it had a 3.0L DOHC V6 hooked to a 6-speed manual. It ran the 1/4 mile in the upper 13s, bone stock. That was a sleeper, and I had a ball with it!

      5
  2. Ken Jennings

    Being a Chrysler buyer, back when these were just used cars I drove more then one big block to be considered for my DD. While I was always impressed with the ability to throw me back in the seat under acceleration, going around corners gave me a fright. Add in the horrible MPG, the crazy insurance premiums, and the increased maintenance, I always passed for a more sedate car. Who ever buys this is going to get a great car for showing, or at the drag strip, and even out on the street around town at a stop light (if you can get away with that), but it will never be a comfortable road car. That is a personal choice, but not one I would make. The slant six this base car came with is going to be a much better all around car, one you could comfortably take out on the road, even across country. Not to mention, a SS in a car like this is pretty rare these days because of all the Frankenstein work done to them, many people I know would like to see those at shows.

    5
  3. Mike Swing

    Today this wouldn’t really be considered a sleeper. A Toyota Matrix XRS 2Z 6 speed yes I would say so. Not poo pooping on anyone’s Mopar parade here. Back in the 70’s and 80’s yes a true sleeper.

    The 440 on the side of the car was the series of the car NOT the engine call out. So I sure wouldn’t be advertising. Most 440 sedans were base 6 and V8’s

    Not sure why the seller didn’t spend some time on the interior of this otherwise nice looking car. The tired staind upholstery just makes me wonder if other corners were cut in this build.

    2
    • Chris M.

      I think the seller mentioned it was a work in progress. Maybe that was next on the list for the former (R.I.P) owner. Might be a great start on a driving project with a fresh 440.

      3
    • Hoghead426

      While 440 was a series in the Coronet line,they never produced a
      440 series in a 2 door sedan.If you look close it says “Coronet Deluxe” .

  4. jerry z

    I can see this body style running the back roads in the southeast hauling a little hooch! Color is sweet too!

    4
  5. 370zpp

    Back then, when my father decided he wanted to teach my mother to drive (probably due to him correctly suspecting his days with us were numbered) he bought her a beige, 66 coronet 4 door. I resented this car on many levels, right down to the clear plastic seat covers and the 318.

    Insult was added to injury when, after he was gone, I watched the fat-cat car salesman/buyer pay my mother 3 grand for my Dad’s 66 one year old, loaded, mint condition white Imperial, and drive it away. One of those things, I cannot forget.

    4
  6. Ken Cwrney

    Not to mention that oh so many police
    agencies around the country used these
    gems for pursuit duty too. Most were
    equipped with a 325 HP 383 which was
    no slouch either. The 440 was a hair bit
    faster than the 383–but not by much. I
    hope our seller has upgraded the braking
    system with a dual circuit master cylinder
    and at least disc brakes up front. Hitting
    the whoa pedal with an outdated brake
    system can leave you checking your shorts once you get it stopped. Other than that, I like it!

    • Steve R

      The ad says it has disc brakes and a dual reservoir master cylinder is visible in the picture of the engine compartment.

      Steve R

      6
      • Chris M.

        Steve Argh, the depth of your idiocy is unfathomable.

        4
  7. Bob C.

    I can’t remember the last time I saw a 2 door post sedan in Coronet form. All the more giving it the sleeper look.

    2
  8. Troy s

    For me personally these were never sleepers, older dudes who remember these new will laugh but these were what Mopar was all about, from ’63 up, for me anyways. For some reason as a kid I got it in my head All these were either max wedge or hemi powered speed machines, even if it was just a ’64 Sport Fury with American mags. There were more than a few cars like this or slightly older at Carlsbad raceway, splattered with decals, roll cage and terrifying angry sounds coming out of the open headers.
    This one is really sharp, no fancy groovy paint jobs or wild hood scoops, just a menacing old Mopar!

    4
  9. djjerme

    Almost exactly like a swap a buddy and I did when I was in High School. He had a 4 door ’66 Coronet, but it had the smaller 383 with a single barrel. We yanked that motor and dropped a 440 in it. It was bright red, but still rocking the steelies and dish caps. It was a fun car back then..

    3
  10. Dan D

    Sleeper or not, I like it. I’d reupholster the front bench, get a set of dog dishs and ditch the flashy tailpipes for a pair of tucked-up pipes and drive it. I think there would be plenty of ricers around that would be very surprised at the performance.

    3
  11. Burger

    Fun car. Watched them being unloaded off the trucks as a kid. Got one of my own when I was driving age. Still got it. The 440 is a gas pig, and the 4-speed is a very unsmooth, mechanical gearbox to row. But it is fun, and goes like a scalded dog.

  12. Chuck

    Today, you can get a street legal car from the factory or after market supplier, that will give you what ever performance that you want!! All it takes is $$$$$$, and the faster you want to go, the more $$$$$$ it takes. However, there is something special when you take a bare engine block, and build your own engine. Working on it, getting your hands oily & greasy, you bring it to life. There is something special about being able to say,”I built that!!!” Back in the 60’s, when I was building engines, we either didn’t have, or couldn’t afford things like superchargers, turbochargers, nitrous, ECM’s, or EFI !! We had solid lifter camshafts that needed the valve lash adjusted weekly, multiple carburetors, distributors that had dual points and no vacuum advance, and we knew how to read spark plugs, to jet the carburetors properly! We used things like vacuum gauges, dwell meters, and distributor machines to change the mechanical advance curve on a distributor! This new generation of mechanics (parts changers, and nerds on computers) will never know the thrill of the first start of an engine that you just put the finishing touches on, or the sound of a big cubic inch V-8 with dual quads wide open winding to 7000 RPM, with open headers!!! I’m real sorry to see that those days are gone!

    5
  13. TimM

    True sleeper material!! Great looking interior too!! Really nice to see something a little different in the line up!!!

  14. Plymouth arrow guy

    What a cool car!

    1
  15. Ghostnote

    Love it. I’d be down for buckets and A/C. If you’re going to drive around town kicking butt, you need to be comfortable. Dog dishes and exhaust turndowns, too. Otherwise, perfect.

  16. Jon M

    I just bought the car. Exterior and interior are 100% original. I have no idea if the previous owner was going to recover the seats since he passed away in April 2019 with the car finished to the point you see it. He had three others (hardtops) and a 1969 Camaro with an LS conversion. Yeah, he had an amazing shop.

    I am going to do exactly what Dan D. posted earlier. It is a tight car that sounds and runs awesome.

    1
    • Todd Fitch Todd Fitch Staff

      Congratulations Jon M! Be sure to check back with an update and a picture some time. It’s always great to find out what becomes of the cars. I had nearly the identical car with two more doors, including the dog dish caps but they went with the sale. Good luck!

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