SEPTEMBER 2015: 1958 CUSTOM ROYAL—8000 MILES AND 35 YEARS LATER

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IMGP6900Fin cars are the kind of vehicles that people either love or hate—but mostly love.

”The 50s Mopar space age style draws you in immediately because cars with fins are non-existent in 2015—no matter what the Jetsons cartoons told you back in the 1960s.”

Well preserved examples of Virgil Exner (Advanced Styling Studio Chief) era Mopars are pretty rare because these cars had a few build issues back in the 50s and they looked pretty outdated by 1961.

 

This 1958 Dodge Custom Royal falls well within the well preserved guidelines. Charles Mohr found this car over 35 years ago. It had around 30,000 miles on it via the original owner and he found it on a car lot. The owner’s niece traded it in after she inherited it but she traded her uncle’s “pride and joy” (as Charles called it) for something newer and less finned.

 

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Charles bought the old Dodge on the spot and never looked back because survivor ’58 Dodges were even rare in 1980 and he had a fondness for this Custom Royal 4-door sedan. This car has a strange array of features because it has power brakes but it’s a radio delete ride.

 

 

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This car leads a relatively easy retirement because Charles admits to about 1000 miles a year—in his own words he makes sure he “takes a trip or two every year”. He likes to preserve the survivor status by not running up the numbers on the odometer. Some things can’t be saved because the original interior was dry-rotted so Charles had the seats done about 4 years ago. The rest of the car is intact because this 1958 Dodge Custom Royal has really had only two owners—two great owners.

 

 

Custom Royals were built for the new highways in 1950s North America where 75 miles per hour was a realistic average speed. These big brutes were designed to soak up hundreds of miles in complete passenger comfort so they needed V-8s, automatic transmissions and size to pull it off. This Dodge has a 354 cubic inch V-8 to keep up with traffic and Charles is confident even in 2015.

 

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He said the ride is pretty nice and the mileage is “not bad” but 57-year-old cars still have a few quirks. Charles said the ride is a little stiff and rough pavement gives him “a little grief” but he loves to pilot his big Dodge.

 

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Four-door sedans are at the bottom of the rung in the car hobby world but that rule doesn’t apply to four-door sedans with fins. Charles sees his four-door Custom Royal as an advantage for a couple of reasons. He likes how they’re “cheaper to buy” thanks to their less popular status plus they have a very real practical side. Charles explained how they’re “so much easier for passengers in a parking lot because they’ve got that extra door to get out of”.

 

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Charles pulled off quite a feat with this ’58 Custom Royal when he bought it because he knew he’d never get another opportunity to own a survivor fin car in this incredible condition.

 

Like Virgil Exner, the father of the fin car, he was a man of vision.
Jerry Sutherland

 

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