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History of the 1954 Dodge Royal
Dodge introduced a new flagship model in the Royal in 1954. The full-size car sported a look courtesy of Chrysler’s new head stylist, Virgil Exner, and it could be ordered in a slew of two-tone colors, all of which predicted the direction for Dodge’s 1955 lineup. Royals came in four body styles on two wheelbases – 119” for club coupes and four-door sedans, 114” for Sport hardtop coupes and convertibles – and nearly 65,000 were sold.
The only available engine for the 1954 Dodge Royal was the 150-hp, 241-cid “hemi” Red-Ram V-8, now with 10 more hp than the previous model year courtesy of a compression ratio increase. Standard shifting was by way of a three-speed manual transmission. The optional Gyromatic “fluid drive” transmission was supplanted by the all-new and highly advanced Powerflite two-speed automatic, developed entirely in-house. The new Powerflite added $189 to the price, while power steering added $134 and Chrysler’s own Airtemp air conditioning added a then whopping $643 – and which saw few buyers. Prices for the Royal began at just under $2,350, making it competitive in the full-size, mid-market field.
In the spring of 1954, a Dodge Royal convertible was selected as the official pace car for the Indianapolis 500. To commemorate the honor, Dodge introduced a tip-top-of-the-line Dodge Royal 500 convertible as a $201 option. The 701 500 editions included very attractive Kelsey-Hayes chrome wire wheels, a “continental” spare tire, and special trim. A dealer-installed Offenhauser intake manifold and special carburetion raised engine output to an estimated 200 horsepower, which exceeded the power generated by almost all cars on the road and which gave the highest horsepower-per-cubic inch available in a Detroit car for the year. The Royal 500 began Dodge’s true emergence as a “performance” car line, and in fact took the top four places in its “medium” class and six of the top ten at the famous Mexican Road Race.
The 1954 Dodge Royal is often overlooked because of the all-new 1955 cars that quickly put them in the shade. The cars are still a great American performance car of the era, and are relative bargains as a result. Even the Royal 500 pace cars are affordable and important milestones in the evolution of American performance.
1954 dodge royal pace car Info
8-cyl. 241cid/150hp 2bbl
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