It was big and had ridiculously bad fuel economy but there was a time when full-size coupes like the Dodge Polara were quite popular in the US.
The era of big coupes is over, plain and simple. With the few exceptions including something like the Dodge Challenger, automakers have largely abandoned this segment in favor of smaller and much more fuel efficient coupes. The Challenger's eventual replacement, the SRT Barracuda, will also be downsized. Even full-size sedans are not nearly the size they used to be back in the mid-twentieth century. But of all the large coupes on the US market during that time, the Dodge Polara is often times over looked.
The full-size Polara was first launched in the US in 1960 and it featured Chrysler’s "Forward Look" design courtesy of Vigil Exner. It was mechanically related to the Matador and Dart, but Dodge placed the Polara as more of a top-end model. The second-gen car came out just two years later when it was downsized. That proved to be a mistake because Chrysler wrongly believed Chevrolet would be launching its large cars on a new and smaller platform. When that didn't happen, models like the Polara were simply too small when compared to their Chevy competitors and in an era when bigger was better, this was bad for sales.
The Polara lineup received yet another massive update in 1965 when it was returned to a full-size platform. Buyers could also opt for sedan, convertible and station wagon variants. As also typical with the era, a wide range of V8 engines were offered, the smallest of which was a 5.2-liter unit. A V6 engine option simply wasn't offered. The Polar was redesigned once again for 1969 when it unveiled its new "Fuselage Look" shared with the Monaco. V8s remained the main engine of choice but Dodge did add a 3.7-liter inline-six option as well. There was also the Polara Special, which referred to the sedan and wagon variants.
Despite Dodge’s best efforts, however, Polara sales continued to fall despite trying to entice buyers by offering more attractive packaging options. The Polara wasn’t a bad car but it was quite heavy and had poor fuel economy even when compared to other cars of its time. After 1973 the Polara was dropped from the Dodge lineup entirely. This 1970 Polar Custom recently up for sale on eBay was truly a rare find. With only having one previous owner, this Polara was equipped with the Mopar big block Hi Compression 383 V8. To this day it has just 75,000 miles on the clock.
Because it hasn’t been restored, everything about it is original including all switches, locks, windows, brakes and steering. Amazingly, this Polara has absolutely zero rust and it even came with the original build sheet. The winning bid came in at $6,750. Painted gold with the original chrome trim still looking solid, it also features a gold-colored interior. Whoever ended up buying it is likely aware of the uniqueness of this car and the incredible condition considering its age. For better or worse, there will never again be new full-size coupes like this appearing in US dealer showrooms. Photos courtesy of las77evoc.