Don’t call them tailfins. According to the Dodge styling department, those are “vertical aerodynamic stabilizers” atop the rear fenders of this 1957 Royal Sedan.
The Dodge design team tested scale models of their 1957 body design in the wind tunnel, and the results in the lab were less than conclusive. But this we know for sure: In the showrooms, consumers couldn’t get enough of the futuristic, jet-fighter styling. Dodge sales that year set new records.
The Royal shown here is the middle trim level in the ’57 model lineup. Under it was the economy leader, the Coronet, with the bare essentials in standard equipment. The top of the line was the Custom Royal, loaded with extra chrome trim and luxury features. Situated at midpoint between the two, the Royal was just right for value-minded shoppers seeking a balance in price and content. One popular option was two-tone paint, which offered extra visual impact for only a few additional dollars.
One new standard Dodge feature for 1957 was torsion-bar front suspension, an engineering first from the Chrysler Corporation. Dodge Royal buyers could select the trusty 230 cubic-inch L-head six with 138 horsepower or the muscular 325-cubic-inch Red Ram Hemi® V8 with 245 horsepower. Both engines were offered with the TorqueFlite automatic transmission, already recognized as a leader in the industry for performance and durability, and also known for its innovative use of dash-mounted, push-button shift control.
The car shoppers of 1957 were much like today’s buyers in many respects but surprisingly different in others. For example, over 96 percent of the Dodge buyers that year opted for automatic transmissions. However, only 53 percent equipped their new Dodges with radios. It’s hard to imagine drivers in 2013 leaving the driveway without their news, sports, and music, but it was commonplace in the ’50s.