Big Finned Classic: 1957 Dodge Lancer

1957 Dodge Lancer Custom Royal

Whether you know their names or not, there are automotive heros out there that have shaped the car world as we know it. Names that might come to mind include Henry Ford, Carroll Shelby, Harley Earl, and many more. Virgil Exner is one of those names that most of us know, but I feel is often overlooked. If it wasn’t for his design ideas we wouldn’t have big finned cars like this 1957 Dodge Lancer Deluxe Royal, which you can find here on eBay with bidding at $3,600 and a BIN of $10k.

1957 Dodge Lancer Interior

One of Exner’s crowning achievements was his Forward Look design, which shaped Chrysler styling for a decade. This Lancer Deluxe Royal features some of his finest work, with excessively large fins and a extravagant front end. This example has obviously been parked for many years and is going to need work. The seller claims the body is straight and all trim work is present, except for some damage to the front fender. They have a replacement fender and trim that is included at the Buy-It-Now price.

1957 Dodge Lancer Engine

While this design might be attractive, all that metal and stainless steel is heavy to push around. Being a Deluxe Lancer means this was the flagship model, although there was a sportier D-500. The seller isn’t sure, but believes this car’s engine is the 325 cui (260 hp). If that is the case, it would slot this one in right under the D-500 and its mighty 340 horse engine. While the D-500 is the Lancer to find, 260 ponies isn’t bad and would help scoot this car down the road nicely.

1957 Dodge Lancer Royal Grille

I’ve always been fascinated by the finned cars of the ’50s and ’60s. Their style is unlike anything else on the road and I can just see icons of the era like Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin cruising around in a car like this Dodge, albeit in something even more glamorous (think finned Cadillac or Lincoln). While Harley Earl can be credited for the first finned cars, I think it was Exner’s designs that made fins memorable. I hope someone will save this Dodge and put it back on the road, so that the rest of us can enjoy those massive tail fins. So who would you say is your favorite automotive hero?



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  1. Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

    Giovanni Michelotti — consistently love his designs, and they always seemed at least somewhat practical as well. :-) Exner’s pretty cool as well. And for a one-off, John Fitch’s Phoenix was pretty spectacular from an amazing man.

  2. geomechs geomechs Member

    That looks like a Super Red Ram (although someone painted it a different color). My cousin had one for several years. One going concern. First full-sized car I ever knew to get a healthy bark out of the tires when the automatic shifted up. That looks like it could be factory A-C. I don’t recall seeing a compressor of that configuration on a Mopar of that vintage though.

  3. Charles


  4. skloon

    Christine’s little brother ?

  5. Howard Member

    The ’57 Dodge was pushing the limits of the soon to be 4 headlight system, as evidenced by the large parking lights. My earliest recollection of a car, was my dad’s ’57 Dodge. The old man was into these Exner cars and replaced the Dodge with a ’59 DeSoto. My favorite automotive hero was without question, Brooks Stevens. His designs went far beyond the automotive world, from toasters to trains to motorcycles to the Excalibur.

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      Brooks Stevens — excellent choice!!

  6. Vince Habel

    I knew Brooks Stevens. He was a very nice man. I think 5k is enough for this car for the shape it is in. The seller says it it 325 CID rated at 260 HP not 325 HP.

    • Josh Staff

      Thanks for pointing that out Vince, I have a bit of dyslexia and my brain likes to mix numbers up! I will update the post with that correction.

  7. PaulG

    Cool car, reminds me of the Sweptside pick-ups that Dodge produced in the late 5o’s.
    They took the rear quarters from the 2 door wagons, and created some of the coolest trucks from that era.

  8. seth

    My dad had one of these, carried an allen wrench for when the push buttons fell off. He replaced a lot of those taillights when he backed up and broke them summer of 1971 when I worked at a camp had a four door version (ex mil.) as our staff car. Was a blast to drive, you just had to remember to pump the brakes to get it to stop

  9. tedd

    Nice looking car here If Im right didn’t the late 50s models have the push button gear change on the dash board? I know some come out in the 60s like that

  10. joe roth

    After a very disappointing ’57 merc my uncle owned a ’58 black Custom Royal 354-295 hp
    Far better car….better looking….better handling and I was along one night when those wells on the speedometer were red wall to wall!!

  11. Mike_B_SVT

    Cool car! Would love to clean and cruise it as-is.

    Favorite “car hero” would have to be Speed Buggy… oh no, wait… Larry Shinoda, for sure :-)

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      @Mike_B_SVT Another good choice! Not that I’d be biased owning a Boss 302 or anything :-)

      • Mike_B_SVT

        I’m not biased either >.>

  12. George

    @tedd, the pushbuttons are on the extreme left side of the dash.

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