Grandma’s Hemi: 1957 Dodge D-500

1957-dodge

When we think of the cars most little old ladies drive, we picture massive luxury sedans whose entire purpose was to be smooth, comfortable, and slow. When a family friend contacted reader Wayne M. about an elderly woman who was looking to let go of her old 1957 Dodge, he assumed it would be a base model car, since she was only asking $500. He decided for a price like that he might as well go take a look and what he found was a bit of a surprise. We will let Wayne tell you the full story in his own words below.

1957-dodge-d500-hemi

I got a call from my Dad’s best friend wanting to know if I would be interested in a ’57 Dodge with 15K on it for $500. He had roomed with the lady while he was going to college and had often asked Emma (the owner) to sell him the car. She would always reply the same, “David would never forgive me if I sold his car.” Her significant other had bought the car new in ’57 and traded in their ’50 Chrysler Windsor sedan for it. He died a year after he bought the car and it sat in the garage for 20 years, till I got the call. Dad’s friend had lost interest in the car years ago, but he volunteered to take me to see it. I assumed it was going to be a dark green “base” 3 door sedan, after all little old ladies didn’t drive flashy cars. We pulled up in front of a well-kept post war bungalow and Emma met us with the keys to the garage. After a bit of a struggle, we got it open and there under layers of dust, sat the Dodge with those twin antennas giving me the first clue this was not the car I had imagined.

1957-dodge-d500-interior

This is what every collector dreams about! It was a 2 door hardtop with the D-500 Hemi, dual mirrors, dual antennas and those infamous “sinner” caps. Then reality set in… I must have heard wrong about the price, so I turned to Emma and asked “how much did you want for the car?” She turned to me shaking her finger and with a very stern look said, “young man, I want $500 for it, not a penny more, not a penny less!” And the rest is history! The Royal has been a part of my life for 35 years! It has been driven to 4 national meets, but still only has 37k on it!

Even if a ’57 Dodge isn’t your dream car, you have to admit this is the kind of find we all dream of. Not only did he find a great Hemi-powered car, but he got an amazing deal on it. One might feel as though he ripped the owner off, but she knew what she wanted for it. To us, it sounds like her main concern was that it went to go to a good home, which it sounds like it did! This tale is also an important lesson that one should never make assumptions about what is parked in someone’s garage. You never know what that little old lady may have stashed away! Thanks Wayne for sharing!

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Comments

  1. jim s

    if i read the story right he bought the car 35 years ago in 1978 for $500. that was still a good deal back then. glad he keep it all these years. great story and car.

    Like 1
  2. Joe Howell

    Little old ladies aren’t all slow. In 1968 while in high school I worked at a supermarket loading groceries in customers cars. One lady drove a 4 door 63 or 64 Dodge with a 426 wedge. That was one quick 4 door grocery getter.

  3. David Reeves

    This reminds me of my grandmother. When she met my granddad, who was a doctor, he bought her a brand new Imperial for their first wedding anniversary(I think it was a ’58). After that, every 3 years, he would get her an Imperial up until the day that they stopped making them(after that, she got Chrysler New Yorkers). She’d only put about 35,000 miles on them. She was tiny, 4’11 barefoot and about 5’2 in heels. To resolve this, she sat on a phonebook and had a pair of heels in the car, called them her driving heels, and put them on so she could reach the pedals. She’d always make sure that her driving heels were well broken into, so she’d never get blisters. I wish she was here now…

    Like 1
  4. KE100

    Talk about little ol lady from Pasadena

  5. KE100

    Talk about little old lady from Pasadena

  6. KE100

    Sorry didn’t mean to post that twice

    • rusty

      what?

      what?

      Like 1
  7. Mr. Moe

    What a deal and what a car! It is still a “looker” after all these years. Hemi, low miles, spinner hub caps, twin antennas and “gangster whitewalls”. This little ol’ lady had it going on. 1957 was a banner year for several of the car makers and this one is a great example of that. Quite a find.

  8. paul

    Oh my!

  9. Charlie V.

    Think 1974. A Dodge dealership in North Dakota closing after 35 years in business because the grandson didn’t want it. Now picture a square taillight sticking out of the bushes and trees around it. $400 later you’re in possession of a 1969 Plymouth Road Runner powered by a 335/383 backed by a 4spd and pushing everything through a stock 3.55:1 rear axle, and only 31,300 on the odometer. Body is mint condition. The only thing the engine required was a new timing chain and clutch plate. Had it for 12 years before having to sell to settle a divorce. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t regret selling it.

    Like 1
    • John

      I had a not so old 87 944 Turbo Porsche I sold about two years ago to help out one of my kids. I feel the same way as in wishing I hadn’t sold it. Great car looking for another one, may be a 928 this time around though.

  10. ranger herb

    I bought a 58 Chevy Biscayne four door in 1975 for 300 dollars, it had 60,000 miles on it. I still have the original owners manual.

  11. walt

    my friends grandmother sold me a 67 chrysler new yorker for $ 200 sight un seen got it home opened the hood it had a 440 then i opened the glove box found out it was a 44o police interceptor her husband was an ex highway potrol officer had this car built to catch racers on the kansas highway that was one bad ass car.it had only 2600 miles on it

    • dean

      Walt, I just found a 1967 New Yorker 2dr 440 v8 AT with sure grip rear. black buckets seats. Odd thing about it is it has a 1966 dash and steering wheel. (Seems to be original) Other than the dust it looks like a brand new car. It was purchased at an estate sale in 1990 by an acquaintance of mine. He drove it home and parked it in the garage. It sat there until he decided to show it to me on my birthday (this year). It only has 7104 miles on it. It will take me a while to get it home, and it is costing me a little more than you paid for yours, but still getting a very good deal on a very cool ride.

  12. Mark E

    Older performance cars weren’t worth a whole lot in the early 1970s simply because you could buy better NEW muscle cars from the dealer!

    I remember going out to look at a “1964 Impala convertible for $600” Turned out it was a beautiful yellow Impala SS with a black roof. And yes, it had a 409 & 4-speed console shift!

  13. paul

    My cousin sold me a 62 Impala ss 327 in 68 for $100, it had I think 62,000 miles. I drove it to Woodstock concert,my first car, oh the good old days.

    Like 1
  14. Mike

    Similar story to Charlie V. above. I was not yet 21 so my Dad had to co-sign for me to get a car to replace a stolen dune buggy I had built. A buddy of his who tried to sell him an Imperial was calling with his usual Imperial sales pitch and when my Dad mentioned I needed a good, safe used car he suggested I come down and see a low mileage Plymouth sedan he had just taken in on trade. It was only $1800 for a 68 model year and this was 1970. Well I had visions of a butt ugly 4 door biscayne or the sort but when I got there, it was a beautiful medium metallic blue 2 door Road Runner ! Believe it was a biscayne or the base model but had the RR option package with the 383 so the insurance company did not pick up it was a muscle car. I was thrilled to get it and only kept it for a short time as even back then, used too much gas ( maybe had something to do with the pedal on the floor all the time) so had to sell it. Sure wish I had kept it but when I went to sell it, couldn’t find anyone to buy it so traded even for a Fiat 850 Spyder. Talk about opposites but have to admit, the girls loved the Fiat more than the RR !!!!

  15. 88R107

    A good friend in HS had an aunt that had a 1964 Impala SS hardtop. 409/ 2 4’s/ 4 speed. Solid black. This was about 71-72 and the car had 16,000 miles on it.
    My grandfather was 57 when he took delivery of his new 1964 GTO.

  16. rick390

    my grandma gave me her 68 impala when i was in collage ,396 4bl auto , wish i still had it.

  17. Chris A.

    I missed a 1952 Riley 2.5 liter saloon in good shape by one week. The estate attorney said “I wish I’d known your were interested in old cars, I sold it to 2 Canadians for $200 and they trailered it home to Toronto”. It would have matched the one we’d had in the family in the 60’s. Estates are a good source for nice old cars. Speaking of which, anyone want a nice 1930 Pierce Arrow sedan in running condition?

  18. Dirty Dingus McGee

    In 1975 I inherited my uncles 1968 Plymouth Fury III convertible; 383 2 bbl, TorqueFlite, A/C, PW, PS and PB. Car had around 45K miles and was one heck of a cruiser. In 1979 I sold it, to finance the purchase of a 67 GTX ragtop, with all options but the Hemi.

    Being as “Unk” was a bit of a gearhead, I think he would have approved of the upgrade in droptops.

  19. Yooperpackrat

    Back in 1965 my dad bought from his elderly uncle a car just like this only it was a Lancer{Ithink} it was white with green upper color,push botton transmission,can’t remember what the engine was and it was mine to drive and I did till I joined the Marines in Sept of 65,my brother started driving after I left and basicly ruined the push button trans by doing burn outs,it was a nice car in very good condition for a northern Ohio car{rust belt} and I wish I had it now,If I only had a time machine!!!!!PS I loved all the chrome on the front of those cars.

  20. Don Andreina

    Sigh. The best fin body with a Hemi and twin aerials. Twin aerials!

  21. ConservativesDefeated

    Fourteen years ago on a trip to the workers paradise of Cuba, I’m walking down a street praising El Barbe, and there behind a low block wall, basically somebody’s front yard, sat the very same model ’57 with twin antennaes!

    In that dusky rose color if I remember correctly. Up on blocks! Turns out the owner drove it into his yard, jacked it up EVERY NIGHT, to make it more difficult for any so inclined comrades to make off with it. Had I the means and logistical knowhow at that point, I surely would have loved to bring that back to the States. As it is I have pix of Cubana car clubs parading around in the most amazing variety of cherry convertibles, 409’s. you name it.

    And that doesnt address the ’49 DeSotos running around w Sanborn coffee cans feeding the carburetors!

    If we ever losen the grip of the exiled Cuban lunatics on American foreign policy towards Cuba, theres going to be a car rush like you’ve never seen.

  22. Carguy

    In 1982 my grandfather pasted away, and he had a 1955 Chevy Belair, two door ,yelllow with a white hardtop. Clean car with 56,000 mile original miles. Clean and original, I was in college at the time and and was racing jap scrap ( what we called them at the time) and into any thing British. ( and yes i had it it bad) So when my dad asked if I wanted grandpa’s car I hesitated and said I would get back to him. A day ( Urg it was only a day) later my uncle ( and executor on the will) sold the car for 700 hundred dollars. I still kick my self today, and every car show I go to I keep a look out for any 55 in yellow with a white hard top. Hoping it could be grandpa’s car.

  23. GaryMc

    How nice to see something different from 57. Especially when it looks this good and has such a nice backstory

  24. joe roth

    Hard to believe but true……2 small towns and a village up here in Ont. Canada all within 10 miles of each other had these for sale in the mid to late 70s…..’71 Hemi cuda convt…,the white one with red billboards. (or vice versa)..about $2700….’66 Sport Sattelite convt. 426 Hemi 4 spd……$500.00 and ….no kidding….a ’66 Hemi Coronet 4 door sedan!!….$800.00

  25. James Turner

    Don Andreina I disagree with your statement about this Dodge being the best looking dual finned twin antennae Hemi Car. It is very nice looking but cannot compare to the Gold and white colored 1957 Desoto Adventurer that my mom had in the early 1960,s. It had nicer looking tailfins , Straight to the taillights without the notch, Dual antennae’s, Automatic radio station finder, Power windows, Seats and Seat, Steering and brakes, Gold anodized finned hubcaps, Nicer straight across bar grill with bottom Gold colored screen, Dual exhaust running through the rear bumper. Chrome striped trunk cover. Best of all, I believe it was the HEMI 343 CC TWIN 4 BARREL CARBURETED engine. If I remember produced 345 h p. Wow, What an automobile for the time. I believe in 1957 the big 3 automakers produced the best styled automobiles of the decade.

  26. Socalflyer

    Talking about little old ladies
    In ’71 my crazy aunt (haha) insisted I buy a ’66 Mustang conv for $250. (I still have it.) She went out to buy a 240Z with racing strips. No license, no insurance. The first dealership turned her down. But she eventually got a license and the 240z w/o the strips. My mom helped her, with serious reservations. Dad drove it home. It was hilarious. It sat in the driveway upon proof.

  27. MUNSON300H

    I had a 1962 chrysler 300H. 413.2 4bbls.man I loved that car. Very rare. Double console. Big mistake sold it when I was a kid.

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