Very few people restore 4-door sedans.
These unloved cars are often sacrificed on the altar to the restoration gods as mere parts donors.
Car guys will argue that the costs of an extensive restoration on a “more-door” sedan are exactly the same as the more popular hardtop and convertible model.
These are cold, hard economic facts but that assessment rules out intangibles like nostalgia and family history.
This 1966 Dodge Polara 4-door sedan is one of those cases.
Terry and Barb Scott are not typical “car guys”. In fact, they are car guys by default—they saved this car because of its extensive family link to Barb’s Mom and Dad. Barb recalled that her folks were actually “Ford people” back in ’66 when her Dad was looking for a new car but the choice came down to a painful reality.
Barb explained, “Dad had lost both legs at the age of 50 so in 1966 he needed a car that would haul a wheelchair. The Fords had a high trunk sill so Dad bought this Dodge because it had a low sill and he could get the wheel chair in it easier”.
Barb’s Dad drove it for only a few years and then it became her Mom’s car as she recalled, ” He had hand controls for the first two years then Mom drove it nearly every day for the next 20 years. After that, it sat for the last 15-20 years”.
The years weren’t kind to the old Dodge so it deteriorated over that period and that’s when fate struck for the family car. The car was in serious danger of the famous last ride because Barb didn’t see the upside to keeping the old Polara.
Terry jumped into the fray as Barb pointed out, “His first words were no way I could give it away so he hauled it back to our place”. This is the point of no return in any project when the car hits the driveway—Barb and Terry learned that lesson on Day 1.
The biggest difficulties in every project begin and end with two major factors—the quality of the car at the starting gun and availability of parts. The starting point is the key because if you pull a car out of a swamp be prepared to invest the next several years in structure rebuilding. If that car is one of five left on the planet be prepared for a long and costly parts search.
This Polara was in the mid-range for degree of difficulty. The car wasn’t a total basket case but it was a lot prettier back in 1966 and the parts catalog was more in the range of a brochure than the Bible-like size of a Mustang catalog.
Terry and Barb subcontracted most of the work but the car was done back to factory specs including factory correct upholstery out of Oregon. The car was completely rebuilt including the 383 motor, Torqueflite, front end and brakes. The exception was the custom wheel option. Barb and Terry had a debate over this because Barb believed in keeping the old ride totally stock but Terry wanted to add a cool factor to the old Dodge. That discussion alone made a strong case that the Scotts had entered the car world because the stock versus custom discussion is perpetual in the hobby.
Terry and Barb enjoy the summer show circuit in the old Polara and they’ve participated in several cruises and treasure hunts since they hit the highway in the 46-year-old Dodge. They like the family atmosphere at car shows and the camaraderie between car guys.
Barb admits, “I never thought that I’d do something like this because after all, who restores 4 door sedans?” Nevertheless this ’66 Dodge is a solid example of how nostalgia can triumph over reason.
They realize that money pumped into a 4-door sedan makes no sense from an investment perspective but if it’s Dad’s car, this strategy makes perfect sense…
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