NASCAR Remembered: 1956 Dodge Coronet D-550-1

Stock car racing the way it used to be, with actual “stock” cars like this 1956 Dodge Coronet tribute. This example is a tip of the hat to the original D-500-1 Super Stock NASCAR brawler that was a competitive force so many long years ago. Located in Appling, Georgia, this Coronet is available, here on eBay for a current bid of $9,999, reserve not yet met.

The idea around the D-500-1 was to offer for public sale, 500 high-performance Dodge Coronets that would meet NASCAR’s homologation rules. Cars so equipped with the 500-1 designation, as opposed to just D-500s, had 285 gross HP (in stock trim) Hemi V8 engines and three-speed manual transmissions. This example has been modified beyond that and wears Kiekhaefer Racing livery, a NASCAR racing team known for entering Chrysler 300s in ’55 and ’56 NASCAR competition. There is not a specific mention as to when this recreation was created but the seller states that the current engine has been in place for twenty-five years so it dates back at least that far.

The engine in question is a 331 CI Hemi V8 attached to an A-833 four-speed manual transmission – a nod to a later generation. It is said that this car, “has been driven around town and it is dependable. It pulls strong in every gear and cruises well at 65-70 down the highway. It runs cool with good oil pressure and there are no mechanical issues“. It’s certainly impressive looking! You can hear it run via this link.

Ditto the exterior as it’s impressive looking too. As to how faithful a reproduction it is, I’ll leave that to early NASCAR aficionados that know more about such things than I do. Regardless of authenticity emulation, it presents beautifully with a clean finish and crisp graphics. The wheels aren’t period correct but they work with the rest of the presentation. Note the crossed flag badge on the trunk lid and hood, testament to this Dodge’s D-500-1 performance upgrade.

The interior looks more like a standard Dodge Coronet than it does NASCAR super stocker. It actually looks very stock right down to the burn your thigh on the clear plastic back seat cover, a commonly found item from the late ’50s and early ’60s. There is an added tachometer and floor shift but certainly, no roll bar or safety harnesses though old school “airplane” seatbelts have been added. The instrument panel is resplendent in all of its typical-for-the-time brightwork.

Streetable tributes such as this Dodge were common at one time but seem to have faded from the current automotive landscape. If you ever visit Daytona International Raceway in Daytona Beach, undercover in the pit area, there are usually a few such creations permanently on display.  I haven’t followed NASCAR in years, it’s too much like watching flamboyant appliances, all pretty much the same, chasing each other around in a circle. It seems that it has become more of a performance “leveling” game than a go-for-it racing endeavor – just my view, I know it’s still popular. And it has become much more modernized which has its benefits and detractions. I cannot imagine what racing around the old Daytona Beach Course, in a car like this Dodge, must have been like – safety certainly wasn’t on anyone’s top ten list back then. And maybe that’s what made it so exciting. This Coronet will make a nice car show participant or a sunny day cruiser; most of all though, it’s a reminder of a time in automotive autosport that is long gone to the ages, wouldn’t you agree?

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Comments

  1. alphasud Member

    It’s refreshing to see an abundance of clear pictures to represent the car. One thing that surprised me was how good panel gap was on this car. My 65 Corvair is original and panel gap and build quality is on par with 60’s GM. Unless someone has reworked this in the past it just shows the level of Chrysler back in the day. While this car is not perfect it is perfect enough to drive and enjoy without fear of a dent or a scratch. If you are not a fan of the graphics you can pull them off. I personally would leave them. I didn’t see any power steering so parking lot maneuvers will be a workout. That’s no matter you can call it upper body workouts and skip gym days. Will be watching to see closing bid. I think these cars are undervalued for what you get. It may not have an elephant but it still has a Hemi.

    Like 11
  2. Howard A Member

    While it’s an honor to have one of Wisconsins most prominent businessmen displayed, I read on “Allpar”, what I consider the foremost authority on Mopars, Carl Kiekhaefer had nothing to do with the D500,( Wiki claims he did) fact is, he was a rebel and raced the Chryslers on his own dime, I believe without factory help. He had his boat mechanics do things Chrysler hadn’t even thought of yet. I read, the ’56 D500 used the 315 hemi and can’t find any that were actually raced, more of a sales gimmick. The 331, 2, 4barrels, I read, was the most powerful motor you could get in ’56, just not in a plain Coronet.

    Like 11
    • Jim ODonnell Staff

      I think you are correct, the only link-up between Kiekhaufer and Chrysler that I could uncover was his preparation and racing of Chrysler 300’s and, as you state, on his own dime – he didn’t race or sponsor Dodges. He only had two years in the sunshine, ’55 & ’56, and then he left NASCAR. According to Hemmings, his departure was due to reasons of “Citing competition from the factory teams that really began to come on strong that year, increased expenses and problems with the rules, Kiekhaefer walked away late in 1956, though he was never cited as violating any rule or regulation–he was simply better prepared than the bulk of the field“.

      JO

      Like 8
      • 370zpp 370zpp Member

        As long as you are talking about Carl Kiekhaefer, lets not forget the incredible Mercury outboard motors his company produced in the 50s and the “Tower of Power” models in the 60s.

        Like 6
      • Howard A Member

        370,,we called those motors with no neutral ,,”dock busters”. The old man had a late 50’s Mark 75 ( 65hp),,I never understood why the “Mark” was always more than the hp rating, in line 6, 3 carbs, it was a beast, took 3 stout men to lift it.
        Thanks, Jim, and there are conflicting reports on Carls behavior. Hemmings was kind, and I heard, he was an agitator, a loose cannon, and he already had several ’57 Chryslers made, but an argument with officials stopped him, he told Bill France( I think) to cram it with walnuts( not actual words) and withdrew the cars and concentrated on the boat engine business. I’ve delivered ( or picked up, I forget) at Mercury Marine in Fond du lac, Wis many times. Although Carl was long gone by then, workers said he was a fair man to work for and cared about his employees. Ever hear of the “Evinrude drop” ? (very similar to the H-D crowds “Honda drop”) Carl worked for Evinrude, until an argument caused him to quit and start Mercury . At company picnics, they would string an Evinrude up a tree, and light it on fire, making fun of the plastic cowl until it melted and dropped. He was proud to say, his outboards were all metal at the time.

        Like 8
    • stillrunners stillrunners Member

      The 2×4 331 was a 1955 motor and in 1956 it was the 2×4 354 motor. And yes the D500 Dodges were raced – see comment below.

      The Hemi’s were banned in Nascar for 1957 was more the reason for Karl being upset and again the Hemi was banned from Nascar in 1965.

  3. Connecticut Mark

    Beautiful car, just would change those nugget rims to period steel rims .

    Like 11
  4. Paul R

    I had two 1962 Merc 700 outboards, first year with “Full gear shift “. They were 70hp so the 700 designation was closer to the h.p. rating..
    Kiekhaefer was adverse to a full gear shift. You used to have to stop the engine , shift into reverse and start it again. Reversing the rotation.
    I read that when he finally gave in to a full gear shift engine, he designed the cam actuated shift mechanism on a napkin while having lunch.
    I believe that same mechanism is still used today.
    You’re right ,those engines were beasts, inline 6 , 3 carbs, battery driven ignition. Like having a Ferrari hanging off the back of the boat.
    OMC had nothing even close, in ’62. I think their best offering was still a 35 hp, maybe a 50 hp 90’V monster.

  5. Robert Sykes

    Actually he did run Dodge’s,Tim Flock in particular won in the Dodge…he also ran a Chevy during the 55-56 period
    http://www.catamountstadium.com/WeeklyBlog_Oct3030215_Kiekhaeffer.html

    Like 2
  6. Degenerate

    Back in September of 1960, I got my first car ride home from the hospital in a ’56 Dodge. I’ve wanted one ever since. However by the time I hit driving age there were none around. I live in the rust belt…

    Like 3
  7. R.Lee

    Hemi 4 speed and bias ply’s fun fun fun.

    Nice 1 of a kind car.

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