1954 Dodge Royal V8 - $19,900
     
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This cheerful Royal V8 sedan is nicknamed "Bob" in honor of the young man who did most of the restoration.

Dodge was celebrating its 40th anniversary when this 1954 Dodge Royal was built, and they did it in the best way possible: with a Hemi V8. All top-of-the-line Royals used the little 241 cubic inch Hemi, a neat little over-achiever that was smooth and torquey but still thrifty enough for bargain-minded Dodge shoppers. The combination was just about ideal: big enough to be comfortable but nimble and quick around town. And for the money, you probably couldn't get a faster V8-powered car, then or today.

This cheerful Royal V8 sedan is nicknamed "Bob" in honor of the young man who did most of the restoration. Sadly, he passed away before it could be finished but the task was completed by his very dedicated aunt and uncle, and together they've created one heck of a little car. No, it's not a show car but it's certainly eye-catching in bright yellow livery with a traditional white top. It does not appear to have ever been wrecked or rusty, so they started with good base stock, and since there's exactly nothing being reproduced for these cars, you know all the bodywork and trim is OEM. We love the way all four doors slam shut with a rather precise feel and the streamlined, if conservative, bodywork has just enough chrome to make it seem upscale. The paint shows a few signs of use and age, since they've been enjoying the Royal since it was finished, but that also included regular detailing sessions out in the driveway so it has the right look. Most of the brightwork is stainless steel, so it's easy to keep it in top shape with just a little polishing, while the chrome bumpers were freshly restored just last year. Correct emblems are still in place, advertising that this car does carry a V8, and that might be the last part of the car that needs a little attention: that badge on the trunk is a bit pitted. Not a big deal, but on a car that's so nicely done, little stuff is all you can find to nit-pick. It's very easy to like this car.

That bright yellow and white interior isn't stock but I don't think anyone is going to complain about the look. It was quite thoughtfully done with period-correct patterns and piping, and all the original hardware was retained. Garnish moldings, the dashboard, and even the steering column and wheel were repainted to match, and despite the bright colors, it doesn't feel overwhelming inside. Perhaps that's due to the dark carpets, which help anchor the interior and add a great contrast. It's very important to note that everything works, including the original AM radio, which was just rebuilt last year and includes an FM converter so you can actually enjoy using it. The gauges keep a careful eye on that little Hemi and someone found an original "Jiffy Jet" windshield washer tag to hang on the knob. 1954 was the first year for Chrysler's PowerFlite automatic transmission, which was optional even on the Royal, and you'll find a bunch of factory books and manuals tucked into the glove box. The back seat is remarkably spacious, as is the trunk, which appears to carry its original mat as well as a full-sized spare and jack assembly.

Dodge's all-new "Red Ram" V8 displaced 241 cubic inches, not a lot by today's standards but a significant step up over the flathead six used in lesser cars. The Hemi was called the "double rocker" at the time, indicating the complex valvetrain arrangement that's endemic of the design, and it lends the little V8 impeccable smoothness and a willingness to rev that's very endearing. There's a two-barrel carburetor on top of the original intake manifold and correct silver engine enamel makes it look right. You'll note the engine bay was painted with the rest of the car, so you know it was no cut-rate job and details like the rebuild generator, a new wiring harness from YNZ's Yesterday's Parts, air cleaner, and even the windshield washer bottle are just as they were in 1954. The electrical system is still 6-volt, but the starter kicks the engine over with vigor and it always starts easily, hot or cold. Someone clearly spent the time to tune it properly. We also like the pleasing mechanical sounds it makes, not quite silent but the tick-tick-tick of a complex machine doing its thing. You can see why we find ourselves being so fond of this little car.

The 2-speed PowerFlite automatic transmission works as it should, and legend has it that this is probably the most durable automatic transmission ever built. It shifts into high gear at about 11 MPH and the little Hemi has no problem pulling the car around with real gusto. Clever gearing out back gives it enough punch to feel quick and light on its feet, but it'll also cruise at modern highway speeds without complaint and without seeming busy, a testament to the quality of the hardware. There's a great-sounding dual exhaust system with glasspack-style mufflers, so it certainly sounds like the 1950s all over again, and the chassis, while original, shows zero evidence of rot or damage. The brakes are firm and confidence-inspiring and the steering, despite being unassisted, is easy to manage even at low speeds. There are a lot of new parts in the front suspension, including tie rods, the pitman arm, and the drag link and the brakes have been recently serviced. Correct steel wheels wear factory hubcaps and a recent set of 215/70/15 whitewall radials that have great road manners.

Lots of documentation accompanies this neat little Royal, including an owner's manual, radio guide, some period advertising brochures, and a few parts catalogs, just in case.

A little out of the ordinary, this Dodge Royal delivers fun all out of proportion to its price tag. It's a fun entry-level hobby car that should be welcome anywhere it goes and you'll never get tired of telling people, "Yes, it's got a Hemi!" Call today!

Vehicle: 1954 Dodge Royal V8
Price: $19,900
Stock Number: 115050
Mileage: 89,521
VIN: 34698841
Engine: 241 cubic inch HEMI V8
Transmission: 2-speed automatic
Gear Ratio: 3.9
Wheelbase: 119 inches
Wheels: 15-inch steel wheels with hubcaps
Tires: 215/70/15 BFGoodrich whitewall radial
Exterior Color: Yellow
Interior Color: Yellow and white vinyl
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