Enthusiasts Ultrarare 1967 Dodge Coronet R/T Hemi Convertible Bought, Sold, Then Bought Again 20 Years Later

21:25  06 february  2018
21:25  06 february  2018 Source:   hotrod.com

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The 1967 model year was pivotal in the North American specialty car market. Chevrolet and Pontiac introduced their Mustang-fighters. Mercury rolled out the Mustang-based Cougar. Over at Plymouth, the Barracuda was redesigned to compete better with the Pony.

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The year also marked the introduction of the Coronet R/T. After the 1964 GTO's auspicious start, plenty of competitors rode on its coattails, but not Dodge. When Dodge finally introduced the Coronet R/T in 1967, it was beyond being fashionably late, but it certainly arrived in high fashion.

It's not like Dodge was lacking in hardware. Chrysler Corporation was famous for engineering prowess but was playing it safe in the mid 1960s after several missteps. For example, 1957 started out with the highest of highs with the "Forward Look," only to lead to quality control woes due to production and labor issues. In 1961, new lows were reached thanks to atrocious style, as if someone forgot to tell Vice President of Styling Virgil Exner that the 1950s were over. The final straw came in 1962 thanks to redesigned fullsize Dodges (Dart and Polara) that were slightly downsized due to faulty intelligence. General Motors was rumored to have a smaller Chevy in the works, but the product of the speculation ended up being the compact Chevy II, not new fullsize models. This led to an 11th-hour redesign that bastardized Exner's original designs and resulted in somewhat goofy styling.

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002-weissman-1967-dodge-coronet-rt-convertible-rear-three-quarter.jpg© Bill Weissman,John Machaqueiro 002-weissman-1967-dodge-coronet-rt-convertible-rear-three-quarter.jpg

The upside to this was the all-new 413 Ramcharger Max Wedge, which helped bring Dodge to the forefront at the drags thanks to a fortuitous combination of lighter weight and prodigious power. Mopar fans like to think of the Ramcharger Dodge and its Super Stock Plymouth twin as the first muscle cars, which makes sense when you compare a 1962 Dart with the 1964 GTO: 116-inch wheelbase versus 115; 202-inch length versus 203. By the time the GTO debuted, fullsize Dodges featured a wheelbase bump to 119 inches and length up to 209.8, much closer to competitive fullsizers at the time. Dodge offered a 330hp 383 and an all-new 365-horse 426 High Performance Street Wedge that were more in spirit with the GTO, but the GTO initiated a shift in the performance market. Not only did Pontiac take it from the track to the street, but Pontiac gave the GTO a distinct identity.

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And then came the copycats. Chevrolet, Oldsmobile, and Buick, plus Ford and Mercury, offered their own versions of the GTO by 1965-1966, but Dodge continued to play it safe with the new midsize Coronet (itself related to the 1962-1964 Dodges). It could be said that the introduction of the Street Hemi in 1966 gave Dodge the image it needed, but total sales between the Elephant Motor and the more affordable 325-horse 383 barely registered on the radar.

For 1967 Dodge felt it was time to use the GTO's formula, and the Coronet R/T checked all the boxes. Inspired name? Check. Hoodscoop? Check. Prominent badges? Check. High trim level? Check. Horsepower? Impressive check. Image and style? In spades! Not only did the Coronet R/T have a name that implied a car suitable for road and track, but it also featured the largest performance engine in the industry—standard!

003-weissman-1967-dodge-coronet-rt-convertible-front-corner-detail.jpg© Bill Weissman,John Machaqueiro 003-weissman-1967-dodge-coronet-rt-convertible-front-corner-detail.jpg

The 440 had been introduced in 1966 for the fullsize Polara and Monaco, but Dodge upgraded it in 1967 specifically for the Coronet R/T (and as an option for the fastback Charger). While the basic 440 featured 350 hp, the R/T's new 440 Magnum featured larger exhaust valves, a longer-duration camshaft, a special four-pot carb, and low-restriction exhaust manifolds (something the 1964-1965 426 Street Wedge lacked). Horsepower was an impressive 375, which dwarfed the optional offerings from GM save the Chevelle's 396/375. FoMoCo offered an underwhelming 390 and a sweet 427 for the Fairlane and Comet, but that's where the Hemi came in. Dodge went all-in with the transmission selection too, making the esteemed TorqueFlite three-speed automatic standard, with a four-speed manual a no-cost option (although it required several mandatory options like Sure-Grip). Clearly the Dodge Rebellion was in full swing.

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Inside, the Coronet R/T featured premium appointments with standard bucket seats available in black, white, dark blue, gold, red, or copper; a buddy seat or console was optional to fill the space in between. Reflecting the R/T's sporty pretentions was a standard 150-mph speedometer, but the optional tach required the console. All power and convenience options were available on the R/T aside from typical incompatibilities like air conditioning with the Hemi or four-speed. All told, more than 10,000 were built, including 628 convertibles—not plentiful, but when combined with the Plymouth GTX, the image adjustment certainly paid off in reputation.

This white 1967 Hemi Coronet R/T convertible was originally bought by Rydal, Pennsylvania, resident M.S. Rubin from Jenkintown Dodge. He painted it green not long after buying it, then sold it to owner number two by 1970. It happened to catch the eye of a teen named Bill Weissman.

"I recall seeing it parked a few times at my high school parking lot in 1970-'71 in Northeast Philadelphia where I grew up," Bill recalls.

In 1977, Bill bought a worn-out 1970 Hemi Challenger R/T. After getting it back on the road, he thought he'd try to find the owner of the Coronet R/T and see if he was willing to part with it. They couldn't agree on a price, but several years later the R/T appeared in Trading Times and a deal was worked out. Bill's R/T arrived home on Christmas Day 1983.

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Over the course of two years, Bill worked to bring the rare R/T back to stock specs. Since the Coronet had been garaged, the body and interior were nearly perfect, needing only carpet replacement and a repair to one section of the rear seat where it had been cut for the Lakewood rollbar.

By contrast, some work was needed under the hood. Typical of the time, the engine compartment was painted black and holes were made for the aftermarket accessories. Bill stripped the paint, brazed the holes, and rigged up a makeshift paint booth in his garage to spray the engine compartment and fenderwells back to their proper Mopar selves. The body itself went to a paint shop where the correct Code W White was sprayed.

Bill says, "The chrome and brightwork were all so nice that nothing but the front bumper needed to be replaced because it had been modified so it could be flat-towed to the drag strip. "

The original Hemi was tired, but a valve job, new pistons, and a factory-spec replacement cam ended up being all that was needed. The 4.56 gears had to go, but Bill went one step further because "every Hemi deserves a Dana." Out went the original 8 3/4 rear (which originally held 3.23s), and in its place came a 3.54-geared Dana 60 plus driveshaft. By selling all the race parts at the flea market at Raceway Park in Englishtown, Bill was able to cover the cost of the engine rebuild and still have money left to purchase stock exhaust manifolds and a Hemi H-pipe.

Thanks to his membership with the Northeast Hemi Owners Association, Bill met fellow Hemi aficionado Anotol Vasiliev, who owned a 1969 version of the same car. Both men began participating in several regional and national events, such as the National Mopar Gathering in Ann Arbor and the Supercar Showdown in Quaker City. Bill also attended the East Coast segment of the MCR-sponsored Musclecar Nationals at Atco.

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Says Bill, "My best timeslip was only a 14.2 at 99 mph, mostly due to the small tires and an untrained right foot."

As with many of us, Bill found himself moving on to other projects. In the early 1990s he sold the R/T, but in 2014 he began to feel the itch for another Hemi. Nothing caught his eye until he stumbled upon a certain white Hemi Coronet R/T convertible on eBay, becoming its owner for the second time. Little had been changed by the three previous owners aside from a new coat of paint around 2010 and a fresh convertible top. Bill subsequently sorted out a few new things he didn't do the first time around.

Currently showing under 30,000 miles, the R/T resides in Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey, where Bill is able to "give the old girl a little exercise on sunny days." That included a trip to the "50 years of the Hemi" invitational at the 2016 Carlisle Chrysler Nationals.

For 1968, Dodge introduced a performance model that dressed down for the occasion: the Super Bee. This, along with the Plymouth Road Runner, demonstrated that although Dodge was initially slow to the punch, it rose to the occasion and began to dictate high-performance fashion that others simply had to follow.

At a Glance

1967 Coronet R/T Convertible

Owned by: Bill Weissman, Egg Harbor Township, NJ

Restored by: Owner

Engine: 426ci/425hp Hemi V-8

Transmission: 727 TorqueFlite 3-speed automatic

Rearend: Dana 60 with 3.54 gears

Interior: Black vinyl bucket seat

Wheels: 14x6 Magnum

Tires: G70-14 Goodyear Polyglas

Special parts: Less than 30,000 miles; one of three Hemi R/T ragtops known; current owner is both the fourth and eighth owner

Owner 4 and 8

As sometimes happens, Bill Weissman bought, sold, and then bought this Coronet R/T again as his life circumstances changed, making him both the fourth and eighth owner of the Hemi-powered convertible. He shared with us some photos from his previous years of ownership.

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