Helen Doering grew up in a Chrysler family so they had a very positive reaction when her future husband Garry showed up in a 1957 Plymouth Savoy.
The Doerings entered into their marriage with the Plymouth as a wedding car consequently the finned classic meant a great deal to them but it became expendable when they started a new business.
Helen and Garry vowed that they would own another Virgil Exner era Dodge or Plymouth to replace their beloved Savoy.
Thirty years passed and a friend told them about a ‘57 Dodge that was about 40 miles away in a nearby city. Helen explained that the “owner’s wife didn’t like the car so he had to sell it”. They went to look at the car with a car hauler behind their truck because, as Helen explained, “we were going to take it if it was in any kind of shape”.
They took it and Helen admitted “we drove it for a few years and had a lot of fun with it as is. It was in pretty good shape and we called it the Royal”. They mapped out a game plan for the Dodge and it began with a complete motor overhaul. A year later the transmission was treated to the same magic rejuvenation.
The Doerings migrated to the next phase of old car owners-the pivotal point where the car is either taken to another level or it remains in a functional, but cosmetically challenged state. The decision was easy-this was a tribute to a long lost, beloved car from their courting and wedding days.
The car project started in 2009 and it took a year and a half to complete but the Custom Royal was an immediate class winner at a World of Wheels-it came in second overall in very tough competition.
The 1957 Dodge is not an easy car to restore because parts are difficult to source and many body techs are not familiar with the Exner code of design. Clearly, that wasn’t a major setback for the Royal because this car is spectacular.
Helen was involved with the project from Day One and she was entrusted with the interior as she explained, “I had to pick out the interior because I had the taste for the colors”.
She is well aware of the notoriety that surrounds a spectacular car like a ‘57 Dodge 2-door hardtop. Helen reported “It draws quite a crowd when I stop for gas, sometimes I have to take a half an hour to talk about the car. One girl came running over to tell me to wait because her boyfriend wanted to see the Royal”.
Helen has plans for the car-they include local shows and a few bigger ones several hours from her home. She reported that “the car runs and drives like a dream and it purrs like a kitten but it’s pretty big”.
She is now entrusted with the legacy car because unfortunately Garry passed away before the final touches were done in the project but she added “he did get to drive it so at least that helps in the memories”. The memories will continue because the car will remain in the Doering family-the next generation has a huge interest in the big Dodge.
Legacy cars are a reminder of a time, a place and relationships-the Royal is one of the finest examples ever seen.
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