Like the rest of the Chrysler Corporation, the entry-level 1957 Dodge Coronet received a drastic new design courtesy of Virgil Exner. The “Forward Look” styling, dubbed “swept wing” for the Dodge nameplate, featured tall, sweeping fins, copious amounts of chrome trim, wraparound windshields, and exhaust-style taillights. The cars were also long, low, and wide, distinct from anything other manufacturers were putting on the road.
The Coronet’s base engine was the trusty 230-cid flat-head six-cylinder that produced 138 hp, though a multitude of “semi-hemi” 325-cid V-8 engines could be ordered, ranging in horsepower from 245 to 310. The D-500’s 310 hp was the physical limit for the small block engine, so a very limited D-501 option came about in 1957, and was available on the Coronet. The D-501 featured a 354-cid big-block Chrysler-based hemi V-8, using the specifications of the prior year’s Chrysler C300 “gentleman’s hot-rod.” The motor belted out 340 hp, which was one of the most powerful carbureted engines on American roads. Chrysler’s advanced new three speed Torqueflite automatic transmission joined the two-speed Powerflite on the Dodge option list, and both transmissions utilized push-button selectors on the instrument panel.
Body choices were extensive for 1957 Coronet buyers. A club sedan, Lancer hardtop coupe, convertible, post and hardtop sedans, and two- and four-door station wagons were all available. The D-500 engine was available across the line, though the D-501 could only be added to a club sedan or a convertible.
The 1958 Dodges incorporated several exterior changes including new dual headlamps and dual hood ornaments. The largest changes were under the hood, though, as new short-stroke, big-block engines that featured a “Wedge” combustion chamber were added to the lineup. The new motors were available with displacements of 350 and 361 ci, with up to 333 hp. Base Coronets continued to carry the 230-cid six-cylinder, with the 252-hp and 265-hp small-block 325-cid V-8 being optional. Body choices remained the same as the previous year.
The 1959 Dodges were slightly restyled again, as was standard procedure for Detroit in the late 1950s, with the largest change once again being under the hood. A new “mid-block” short-stroke 326-cid “Wedge” V-8 debuted with 255 hp, while a 383-cid big-block “Wedge” V-8 was optional with either 320 or 345 hp. Inside the car was a new elliptical steering wheel and the option of swivel front bucket seats that aided ingress and egress.
The Dodge Coronet of this era was a terrific seller, making solid examples easy to find, and part straightforward to source. Two-door models and convertibles command the highest prices, with station wagons having a cult following. Sedans remain abundant and affordable.