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Old Cars Reader Wheels: 1965 Dodge Polara convertible

Old Cars spotlights a reader’s 1965 Dodge Polara convertible survivor.

Rex Morgan is rocking one hell of a survivor. This ’65 Polara turned my head when I saw it. This is what Rex had to say about his awesome Dodge…

“My name is Rex Morgan, and I have a ’65 Dodge Polara convertible. It is a survivor and has not been restored. I have put a new top on it and had the upholstery done but for the most part it is as it was when new. It has the factory 383 and the original Dark Turquoise Metallic paint minus a few touch ups. It's a rare car and lives in Indianapolis IN. 

I had been looking for a mid-sixties convertible for some time. I have always been a fan of the full-size cars and for some reason the American cars produced in the middle of the decade have truly stood out to me. In my opinion this was the peak of the American convertible. There were several on my list. The Ford Galaxie, Mercury Park Lane and Monterrey were definitely of interest. In the General Motors family, I love the Buick LeSabre, Olds 88, Pontiac Catalina and the Chevy Impala. Of the Chrysler Products the 300 and Newport are very nice as well as the Dodge Polara, the Custom 880 and the Plymouth Fury. I should also mention that the American Motors Corporation produced a beautiful convertible called the Ambassador that I have admired for several years.

As I was searching for a car, I looked at many sights several times a week and the one I used the most was Autotrader Classics. I would punch in my search criteria and price limit and a number of options would be given. I enquired about a few convertibles and even made offers to the owners on a couple with no success. I went as far as driving from Bloomington, IN to Cleveland, OH to look at a '65 Oldsmobile Dynamic 88. It was in rough shape, much worse than it appeared online. I took two of my boys with me though and we made a fall break trip of it. Then one day the following Spring I saw a '65 Dodge Polara convertible with 47K miles on it for sale at a consignment dealer in Detroit. There were several pictures, and I could see that it had a few nicks and scratches but overall, it looked solid, and it was one of the cars on my list.

I called and asked for more pictures including anything that might be wrong with the car, and they sent around a hundred photos of everything including the undercarriage. This was only minutes after it posted and I was the first one to contact them. The convertible top and the upholstery were in rough shape and there was a baseball sized dent in the hood and a similar sized dent right in the middle of the front bumper. The two impressions were likely made at the same time though I have no information. Other than these issues the car was in decent shape. I made him an offer that I didn’t think he would take but would be a good starting point for negotiation. Within 15 minutes the offer was accepted. I said to myself, 'Wow I just bought a car without ever seeing it in person'. It all happened faster than anticipated. Now I had to get it home from Detroit and I was very nervous hoping not to have an unanticipated surprise.

A few days later I received a call from the driver of the transport I hired telling me he was in town and ready to unload the Polara. I was a high school teacher at the time, so I ran over to the storage facility on my prep period to meet him. As the truck rolled on to the property, I caught my first real glimpse of the car. The paint was much more vivid than I anticipated. The sun was bright, and it was gleaming. I didn’t have time to take it for a drive, so I backed it into the storage unit and headed back to school. From what I had seen there were no issues that I was not already aware of. That afternoon when my classes were through, I went back and took it for a drive. I could not have been more pleased with the way it drove and the shape it was in. Everything on the car was functional and nothing was missing. It had just turned 50 years old. It was a beautiful unrestored survivor, and I was happy with my purchase.

I have had the Polara for six and a half years now and have taken care of nearly all its issues. I had the dent repaired on the hood and they matched the factory Dark Turquoise Metallic paint perfectly. I was looking for a shop that could take the dent out of the front bumper and re chrome it when I found an NOS bumper in Tennessee. It is quite a challenge to find body or interior parts for a '65 Polara as they are not reproducing them. I had a new convertible top installed and had the upholstery re-done in the original color and pattern. The car has a bench seat which was my preference. There is something nostalgic about a split bench as everything today has buckets. It has power windows from the factory and came standard with 6.3 Liter 383 that has never been apart. It has a two-barrel carburetor and a TorqueFlite 3-speed automatic transmission. Aside from having the Stromberg carburetor rebuilt the car runs strong and smooth.

The '65 Polara has a fabulous dash which is reminiscent of the 60 Imperial. With two round, hooded gage pods and a shiny metal plate from door to door. The taillights are also a very distinctive delta shape which allows it to be easily recognized. It shares a body with the Dodge Monaco which was a direct competitor to the Pontiac Grand Prix and the Olds Starfire. However, the Monaco was a hardtop only car in the United States. The Dodge Custom 880 also shares a body with these two but came with a different trim package. '65 was the last year for the 880 designation.

This car is a product of the Elwood Engel design team at Chrysler. Engel spent many years at the Ford Motor Company and is largely responsible for the '61 Thunderbird and Continental forms. The first evidence of his influence at Chrysler was in the 1964 and '65 model years. The '65 Polara grill is similar to the Continental from '61-'64. Also, you can see a resemblance to the '61-'66 T-Bird in the convertible version. The hardtop roofline is somewhat different. The '65 Dodge Polara Convertible is very rare which is part of the reason I was attracted to it. Of the 87,244 Polaras produced in 1965 only 2,661 were convertibles. There are very few left as I have not seen a '65 Polara of any body style in person since I have owned mine. There are a few guys who remember them, but I get many questions about what the car is. I bought it because the timing was right and I’m very pleased with that decision. It’s not a restored car, it’s a survivor. It’s a great automobile and I hope to pass it on to one of my boys someday."

Passenger side rear 7
Front view 11
65 Polara - Victory Field -9-5-20

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