I always liked the 65 Dodge Coronet 500s, and especially a 65 that came with a 426 wedge engine from the factory. Do not confuse this 426 CI engine with a max wedge; I am talking about what is commonly referred to as a 426 street wedge. Chrysler built the 426 wedge to be more “street friendly” than the max wedges and to compete against Ford and GM’s engines and cars. The street wedge came equipped with a single four-barrel carburetor, hydraulic lifters, and a 10.3:1 compression ratio. The engine was rated at 365 horsepower at 4800 rpm, and 470 pounds/feet of torque at 3200 rpm. It was the largest displacement engine of its time.
I always look on Craigslist and other sites just to see what comes up and recently I saw a 65 Coronet 500 and the ad said numbers matching 426 wedge, 727 transmission and 3.23:1 rear axle. This is not the time or place to get into a discussion on what a true numbers matching car means, but to me it meant a 65 Coronet 500 with the original 426 wedge engine, 727 transmission and rear axle still in the car after 50 years. The best I can tell in 1965 Chrysler sold about 33,000 Dodge Coronet 500s and of those only 440 came with the 426 street wedge engine and automatic transmission. I would venture to say there are only a handful of these cars left in existence with the original running gear.
As an added bonus this Coronet was in North Carolina, about 5 hours from where I live. I made arrangements to go look at the car, and my thoughts were if I could verify some numbers it was coming home with me. When I got there the VIN checked out: W=Coronet V8, 4=Coronet 500, 5=1965, 1=Lynch Rd. Michigan.
I was also able to verify the fender tag displayed an “80” engine code which means the car came from the factory with a 426 wedge engine. The “80” is under AB on the middle line of the fender tag. Other information from the tag let me know it was a Coronet 500, it had an automatic transmission, the original color was medium tan poly and the trim was black vinyl. The “SO” or Shipping Order number showed a scheduled production date of 03 February 65 for the car.
The Shipping Order “SO” number on the fender tag also matched a hidden number on a body panel (package tray) located behind the back seat. If you look closely you will see 20308428 on the panel and the tag. Hidden numbers were put on cars to help identify fraud and it helps in situations like this when you want to verify a cars provenance. The engine ID pad was marked A426 HP 10 16.
So at this point I was able to verify the car was a 65 Coronet 500 that originally came equipped with a 426 street wedge engine, and it had a 426 wedge engine that was dated 1965. It would take more investigating to verify “numbers matching” but for the negotiated price we settled on it was coming home with me either way.
In my next post I will expand on authenticating the car, engine and other components.
Auto Education 101