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Black Plate Survivor: 1957 Dodge Custom Royal Lancer

If you are looking for a classic car that blends like a chameleon into the background, you probably aren’t looking for this 1957 Dodge Custom Royal Lancer. However, if flamboyance is something that you crave, then this is a car that could be perfect for you. The seller has chosen to part with the vehicle after little more than a year of ownership. It is located in Gig Harbor, Washington, and has been listed for sale here on eBay. There has been a single bid of $20,000 submitted at this time, but the reserve hasn’t been met. With 66 people watching the listing, that is a situation that could change at any time.

As if the startling styling of Virgil Exner isn’t enough to catch your attention, the Dodge is finished in a combination of Flame Red and Glacier White. As I previously said, this is not a subtle car. At a touch over 17½’ in total length, it does have a sense of presence. The first thing to consider with this car is the question of rust. That could be a huge issue with these vehicles, but this one has many factors in its favor. Up until 2017, the Dodge had spent its life in the dry Californian climate. It has been garaged for its entire life, and it sees minimal use. All of those factors make it no surprise to learn that this is a rust-free classic. Not only that, but the panels are as straight as an arrow. The original owner ordered the car with tinted glass, and this is in good order. The Dodge rolled off the production line at a time of optimism and daring design. Nowhere is this better demonstrated than in the acres of chrome that grace this car. It is all original, and it is all in superb condition. Even those funky chrome exhaust extensions are original. What isn’t original is the wheels. The current owner replaced the standard 14″ wheels with 15s. It isn’t a massive drama because the factory wheels and hubcaps are included in the sale. It is no surprise that these items are as nice as the rest of the vehicle.

If the owner is guilty of anything with this Dodge, it is of under-selling its mechanical package. He claims that the engine is a 325ci V8 that produces 220hp. He has the capacity right, but the mighty Super Red Ram actually punches out 260hp. This V8 is bolted to a 3-speed TorqueFlite transmission, while the car also features power steering and power brakes. Given the overall size of this classic, you would be forgiven if you thought that it tipped the scales at well over 4,000lbs. Surprisingly, the figure is only 3,950lbs. That also means that it would be capable of romping through the ¼ mile in a neat 17 seconds. It seems that the Custom Royal is in good mechanical order, and it does get used for the occasional spot of cruising. However, it does need a few things. The sender unit in the tank will need to be replaced, and the exhaust system is on its last legs. If that’s all that is required, setting it right will be pretty easy. The owner indicates that the Dodge has a genuine 37,000 miles on its odometer. He doesn’t say whether he holds evidence to verify this. However, given the wealth of information, he does have, I wouldn’t be surprised if he does.

It’s when we open the Dodge’s door that we find its most significant flaw. The cover on the front seat has deteriorated badly, and this is entirely out of character with the rest of the vehicle. It makes me wonder whether something furry and four-legged has been romping around in there. The rest of the interior presents beautifully, and you can see that the rear seat is perfect under its clear cover. On a positive note, finding replacement seat covers in the correct material for around $600 is possible. Fit one of those, and this interior would look pretty slick. The rest of the trim and carpet presents well, and there are no problems with the dash. A radio is one of the few luxury features in this car, and it is said to work properly.

The 1957 Dodge Custom Royal Lancer is a car that screams of optimism. It reflects a moment in time when the economy was strong and consumer confidence was high. This one is in exceptional condition and needs so little to take it to the next level. If its few issues were addressed over the cooler months, it would easily be ready to hit the road for some relaxed cruising once Spring has, er, sprung. I don’t know where the reserve has been set, but if the auction finds its way towards $30,000, that won’t surprise me. However, if you are interested, then it might be worth submitting a bid. Who knows, you might strike gold with this one.


  1. Avatar photo alphasud Member

    I agree it’s a beautiful car and really odd the drivers seat upholstery is so hammered. I too was surprised the beast only tips the scales at 2 tons. Would have thought it weighed 1/2 ton more. I think just the cost of having to re-chrome would be more than the current bid. So if you are looking for this kind of car this could be a good deal.

    Like 9
  2. Avatar photo DON

    Beautiful car, but I question the mileage . the top of inner drivers paint looks great, which would make you wonder about the seat condition, and then you look at the right side door inner paint and its all scratched and worn like you would expect from a 60+ year old car. The dash pad is funky looking, but maybe expected from a California car. There are areas that look to be repainted too – unless its a trick of the camera , the trunk gasket looks like there is some overspray and the trunk lid insulation looks like it was painted red .

    Like 1
    • Avatar photo Bill L McCoskey Member

      Note the rear seat. It’s still covered with a clear plastic seat cover from almost new [probably installed by the selling dealer].

      Those seat covers, when installed in cars located in sunny & warm locales [listing says the car is from dry California], can act like a greenhouse and overheat & degrade the original upholstery material. Woven seat material as seen here, didn’t fare well under those conditions. That’s why the rest of the solid sheet vinyl seating surfaces are still in good shape, in keeping with the mileage.

      Original Auto Interiors, Inc., may well have the factory original seat materials for this car, sewn by the original factory supplier and STILL available from original supplier’s overstock.

      Back in the day, car manufacturers expected their suppliers to run overstocks of parts and materials, so that if they needed more, the parts were there waiting. Plus, in some situations where the manufacturer planned on selling a specific number of cars, the supplier created a supply base according to those numbers. When the sales figures didn’t meet expectations, there would be a large surplus of those parts in the supplier’s warehouse.

      Most of the time these excess inventories were scrapped or sent to be remade into new vinyl or fabric, other times the inventories were discovered decades later by vintage car parts suppliers who bought the inventories and made them available to vintage car owners.

      Savvy vintage parts suppliers sometimes traced the supplier trail back to discover the weaving mills that made the materials by the yard, only to discover warehouses filled with rolls of the original automotive fabrics.

      Like 3
  3. Avatar photo PaulG

    Nice for sure, and should bring the $$.
    BTW, the US was heading into recession in late ’57 so things weren’t quite as optimistic at that time…

    Like 4
    • Avatar photo Vince H

      58 models were out by that time.

      Like 1
  4. Avatar photo Arby

    Looks like that driver’s seat is the victim of extreme methane damage.

    Like 12
    • Avatar photo Will Fox

      Too many trips to “Burrito Bob’s” perhaps?

      Like 10
    • Avatar photo FordGuy1972 Member

      If that’s the case, maybe the driver was a smoker, too; a deadly combination……

      Like 2
      • Avatar photo Rich Kaup

        The seat damage is not consistent with it having been garaged all its life. Also the trunk floor coating looks suspicious, i.e., not original.

        Like 1
  5. Avatar photo Michael

    It’s a gorgeous car. Would I be wrong that this is Dodges cousin to the Grand Fury?

    If so the prospective buyer should have this checked for possessing evil spirits….

    Like 2
    • Avatar photo Little_Cars

      Grand Fury didn’t exist when this car came out. I think the Fury name had only been introduced this year. Someone will chime in and correct me no doubt.

      Like 1
      • Avatar photo FRANK C SHEARER

        First Fury was the 1956

        Like 4
      • Avatar photo Little_Cars

        Michael wrote “grand fury” which I believe was a 1970s moniker. Plymouth made em from 1975 to 1989

        Like 2
    • Avatar photo KarlS

      @Michael More akin to the ’57 Plymouth Fury would have been the ’57 D-500 or D-500-1. There was also a D-501 but there were only 56 made. Here are a couple of Hemmings articles on these cars. https://www.hemmings.com/stories/article/1957-dodge-custom-royal-d-500


      Like 1
  6. Avatar photo Douglas Smith

    My first car was identical except it was light green over white, and had the mandatory white walls. Mine had a limited slip differential I had to replace the master cylinder, and rebuild the carb. Sears had seat covers on sale and only in green.
    When I was finished the rebuild , it did start but needed adjustment. I took it to an old German mechanic. He drove it in the rain and dark to several bars. He would adjust the carb at each stop by feel. On the return leg, the Dodge would down shift at 50 plus and squeal both rear tires. My cost was a Stroh’s at each tavern.

    Like 12
  7. Avatar photo George Cassidy

    You must have money to burn with your selling price estimates on these cars.

    Like 0
  8. Avatar photo George Louis

    For the kind of money the current owner is looking for he would be better off to fix the items that need attention or else discount the price to reflect the expense required to bring it up par.

    Like 2
  9. Avatar photo JGeezer Member

    My first car, but in black and gold. As I was an idiot teen, I know these things would spin a tire for fifty feet (if you tortured the poor TorqueFilte by holding with the brakes first). The guys all lusted for the “Lancers”, that were the cool caps to have (back in the day in Connecticut, anyway).

    Like 2
  10. Avatar photo Steve Clinton

    $21,700 and the reserve is not met on 10/20 at 9:20. Are you kidding???

    Like 4
  11. Avatar photo PRA4SNW

    Original owner until 2018 and now on it’s 3rd owner.
    Sad to think that the future of this car is likely to continue to bounce from owner to owner.

    Like 2
  12. Avatar photo Chuck Dickinson

    While the text mentions tinted glass, this car’s windshield is certainly not tinted.

    Like 0
  13. Avatar photo Earl Chrysler, DBA

    While this is an excellent example of Exner’s impact, please, it is not a Classic with a capital C. The word ‘classic’ has been misapplied with alarming regularity. I have people look at my 1939 Graham ‘Sharknose’ and say, “What a beautiful classic car!” I correct them and tell them it has not been cited as a Classic car. It falls within what some of us call, ‘Special Interest car’, which just means some people think it is unusual and like its appearance and/or special features.

    Like 1
  14. Avatar photo Jack Gray

    My father had a ’57 Coronet. I was 14 and was pushing those transmission buttons (engine was off) and got 2 of ’em jammed. Somehow got ’em unjammed before Pop came out of the business he was in, but I sure did sweat it when he started the car and the transmission worked ok. Oh, and later when I got my license, I found out how much power the V8 in that thing had!

    Like 3
  15. Avatar photo Paolo

    This car has had paint work. The trunk interiors were finished in basic gray paint. There doesn’t seem to be anything especially wrong here and there is much to like. That steering wheel is particularly nice.
    If you buy this car you can always choose to “correct” whatever to refine the restoration if that’s what will knock the “dis” off your “gruntle.”

    Like 1
    • Avatar photo Bill McCoskey Member


      I like your comment; knock the “dis” off your “gruntle.”

      Like 0
  16. Avatar photo Murray Johnston

    I had a ’59 model of this, in black and white. Early B engine, 361 cid V8, 2 bbl, duals. A screamer with really tall final gearing. It would bury the speedo and still climb. I drag raced it at Niagara back around ’63, ’64. With a locked 4:11 rear end it ran around 16. Wish I still had it!

    Like 0
  17. Avatar photo Ted Miller

    Needs the correct hubcaps & whitewall tiress that would complete the look!

    Like 1
    • Avatar photo Paolo

      Yes! The 4 bar Lancer wheel covers are available in both 14″ and 15″ on the after market from several sources.

      Like 0
  18. Avatar photo JGeezer Member

    The “Lancers” and the original 14″ wheels are included. He upgraded to 15″ wheels.

    Like 0
    • Avatar photo Earl Chrysler

      Did he change the speedometer gear to compensate for the tire change?

      Like 0
  19. Avatar photo Bob

    Looks great to me. Very rare and solid. Why so many experts are picking it apart is beyond me. I’d give it garage space immediately and love it just like it is. Survivor for sure. Great car. Hopefully who ever buys it appreciates it

    Like 2
  20. Avatar photo RICHARD J VOORHIES Member

    Is this still available?

    Like 0

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