Posted by: Mark Polk | 2015

65 Dodge Coronet 426 Street Wedge

Back in the day Dodge and other automobile manufacturers were building and selling what basically amounted to factory race cars. My 65 Dodge Coronet 500 was one of those Mopar factory race cars. Take a small light-weight car, shove a 426 street wedge big block engine in it, add some bigger brake pads and limit the optional equipment to avoid additional weight and you have early Mopar muscle built with one thing in mind.

My 65 Coronet is a super rare (one of 440) Dodge Coronet 500s that came equipped with a 426 street wedge engine and 727 automatic transmission, and it’s numbers matching. The 426 street wedge was only used in 64 and 65.

To limit weight it came with few factory options. When you decode the fender tag the only optional equipment was variable speed wipers, black vinyl top, heater with defroster, AM radio, back-up lights, and front bucket seats with console.

In my opinion these types of cars were the true muscle cars of the era. This is one car that I won’t let get away.

Mark Polk

Auto Education 101



coronet on liftI got the 65 Dodge Coronet 500 home in one piece and put it on the lift. Now I wanted to try and verify if the car, engine, transmission and rear axle are truly numbers matching. It’s much easier to verify numbers matching cars after 1968. Those cars have partial VIN numbers of the car on components like the engine and transmission. Earlier engines like this one did not have partial VIN numbers on the engine, but they had casting dates and assembly dates. You had to check the block casting date, the engine assembly date and the car’s build date, in that order, when attempting to verify if it is numbers matching car.

engine ID padThe 426 street wedge engine was only used in 64 and 65. The engine ID stamp on the pad located at the front of the engine shows an engine assembly date of 10-16 or October 16th. The “A” on the pad, in front of 426 indicates 1965. The first step in trying to verify if the 426 wedge engine was original to the car was to remove the starter to reveal the casting number and casting date of the engine block. This car had a Shipping Order, or planned delivery date of 203 or February 03 1965 on the fender tag. My thoughts are if the engine was cast in 1964 it was most likely assembled on 16 October 64 for use in an early 65 model car. If that 64 date on castingwas the case after the engine was assembled it would be stamped with an “A” for 1965 rather than a “V” for 1964 because it was scheduled for a 65 model year car, and the assembly date would be 10-16 of 64. I removed the starter and the casting date read 4-10-64. So, the 426 wedge engine block was born in 1964 and used in a 65 Coronet 500.

Read More…

Posted by: Mark Polk | 2015

Project 426 Street Wedge

coronet on trailer rear viewI 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.

hidden numberThe 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.

Mark Polk

Auto Education 101

I started the Sweptline Semi-Hemi project in early 2013. Sometimes I was able to work on the truck 2 or 3 days a week, and sometimes it sat untouched for weeks at a time. Now, as impossible as it seems the 71 power wagon is nearing completion. The last major step is the exhaust system, and there are lots of little things to complete and double check, but I see a bright light at the end of the tunnel.

Recently I finished most of the wiring, installed the new tires and wheels and started putting the chrome back on the truck. I want to do one final buff on the paint and when I get it back from the exhaust shop I will test drive it and work out the bugs. I have done everything on this restoration myself with the exception of changing the gear sets in the front and rear axles, the exhaust system and the cab paint, which the guy I paid to paint the cab screwed up.


This restoration was more difficult than most because there are very few replacement parts available for these old Dodge trucks, but that was part of the challenge and the fun. I can hardly wait to get the semi-hemi project truck on the road.

Mark Polk

Auto Education 101





Posted by: Mark Polk | 2015

71 Power Wagon – Bed Liner Project

When I painted the bed of the truck my initial thoughts were to have a bed liner professionally sprayed in when the truck was finished. At the last minute I decided to prep and paint the inside of the truck’s bed, but not the floor. I thought it would be kind of neat to do a bed liner on the floor,  wheel wells and tailgate, but leave the inside sides of the truck bed the same color as the rest of the truck.

I have done several bed liners in the past, some were spray in products and others were rolled and brushed in liners. I was going to have it done professionally, but now, towards the end of the truck restoration project, my budget is dwindling fast. I was never a big fan of of the roll-on bed liners because of past experiences, but after visiting three local auto parts stores there were no spray in products available. I was impatient and did not want to order a product online and wait for it to arrive, so after researching some roll-on bed liner products I decided to try a Herculiner bed liner product.

I prepped the bed by washing it really good, welding some old holes closed that were drilled in the floor, and sanding the entire surface. After that was done I taped off the areas I didn’t want the bed liner to get on, and I used compressed air to clean out any remaining debris. The final step to preparing the surface was to wipe everything down using a wax and grease remover. I did the same prep process on the inside of the tailgate.

Next I stirred the bed liner using a drill attachment, to really get the particles suspended in the can. The Herculiner kit included one gallon of bed liner, two textured rollers, and a small paint brush. I used some disposable gloves to keep it from getting all over my hands. I started by brushing the product in all the seams and corners and then used the roller to apply a light to medium coat over the entire surface of the bed and the tailgate. I stirred the product frequently to help keep the particle suspended in the can.

I let the product dry for about 2 hours, until it wasn’t tacky to the touch, and applied a heavier coating over the entire surface. I have used roll-on bed liners before and was not pleased with the outcome, but I really like the Herculiner roll-on product. It covered the surface nice, with an even texture, and the finished product looks great. The only thing left to do is see how it stands the test of time.

Mark Polk

Auto Education 101

When I bought my 71 Dodge Sweptline project truck it was missing the tailgate. At the time I didn’t think much about it, I mean how hard can it be to find a tailgate right? I soon learned that finding almost any part for the power wagon restoration was difficult, but finding a tailgate in good condition, and at what I considered an affordable price was a real challenge.

When we took a trip to Colorado I found a guy in Denver who had disassembled several Dodge Sweptline trucks and filled his entire basement with the parts. He had every part imaginable and I hit paydirt for most of the hard-to-find parts on my list, but he did not have one single tailgate. I still wasn’t too worried about finding one since the project wasn’t close to the bodywork stage yet.

Time passed and I scoured local junkyards and even drove 3 plus hours to a salvage yard that I was told had a Sweptline tailgate. They did in fact have one, but it was beyond restoration. I probably called every salvage yard in North and South Carolina and actually did find another tailgate that was about an hour from where I lived. It had some rust that was repairable, and it was bent pretty bad in the middle, but I thought I could straighten it.

One reason I think so many of these Sweptline trucks are missing tailgates is because Dodge made a camper special model with a tailgate that could easily be removed to put a truck camper on the back of the truck’s bed. I think people took the tailgate off and put it in a shed or barn and forgot about it. On the models without the removeable tailgate it’s not so easy to get the tailgate off the truck, especially after forty some years. When I tried to remove the bent and slightly rusted tailgate I made three trips back and forth, the mile or so into the salvage yard where the truck was located. Each trip I would get additional tools, lubricants and finally an impact screwdriver, a big hammer and a torch to heat the bottom pivot mounting screws up. After spending an entire day working on it I finally got my tailgate. The salvage yard owner only charged me $125.00 and I thought I made the deal of all deals.

I got the tailgate back to the shop and started cutting some of the bad metal out and welding new patch panels in its place. The stamped DODGE letters had some rust that was not going to be easy to fix so I diverted my attention to trying to straighten the bend that was in the tailgate. With the truck on the lift I lowered it placing all of the weight on the bent section of the tailgate. When I left the shop every day I would turn the tailgate over and move it around in an effort to shift the weight to different areas trying to straighten it. I did manage to get some of the bend out, but there was still enough of a bend that it was noticeable, and it was unacceptable for this build, so I was out a few days labor, some metal and $125.00.

After exhausting my search at local salvage yards and on Craigslist I expanded my search to Ebay. I didn’t like the thought of paying for shipping too, but I was at the stage in the restoration where I needed a tailgate. I saw tailgates that were in decent shape but the prices were $400 and $500, and that didn’t include shipping. I contacted several owner’s and made what I thought were reasonable offers with no success. One day when I looked on Ebay I saw two new listings for tailgates. I wrote to both people making offers. One said no and the other one met me in the middle at $250 and $75 shipping. The tailgate was in good restorable condition and I needed it so I agreed. This was by far the most difficlt part to locate and purchase. Now I will probably see a half dozen perfectly good tailgates for $200 or less.

Read More…

Now that the truck is painted I am going down the home stretch. I still need to do the exhaust system and lots of little odds and ends, but right now I am fabricating some side steps for the truck. I had some heavy gauge diamond plate steel and 3/4 inch square tubing  left from other jobs that will work great on the steps.

After deciding where and how I planned to mount the finished steps I started the fabrication. I started by cutting 45 degree angles in the square tubing so I could bend and weld the joints. I repeated the process so I would have four arms to mount the two steps to.



Next  I fabricated the pieces that would attach to the arms and the frame of the truck and I cut the diamond plate into the shape I wanted for the steps. I welded the steps to the frames.



I test fit the steps on the truck and drilled the four mounting holes in the step frames and the truck frame.




When everything checked out I ground all the welds, sanded the steps and frames and sprayed them with a good quality etching primer.




The final step in the process was to paint the steps using the darker color I used on the front bumper and the tailgate. As soon as they dry good I can mount them on the truck and then get started on a bed liner for the truck.



Mark Polk

Auto Education 101


In this DIY video host Mark Polk demonstrates how-to install Bushwacker pocket-style fender flares on a 2014 Ram truck. The fender flares in this video were painted to match the vehicle using Bushwacker’s color-matching service, so all you need to do is take them out of the box and install them.

Mark Polk

Auto Education 101

Posted by: Mark Polk | 2015

71 Power Wagon – Paint Job Finished

71 power wagon paint job complete

71 power wagon paint job complete

It’s been a long time coming, but the truck is finally painted. My biggest regret with the paint job was painting the truck in sections as opposed to all at once, and buying the paint on two separate occasions rather than at the same time. The end result is a noticeable difference in color between the sections. If I would have had two or three gallons of paint mixed at the same time it would have turned out better.

The problem started when I made the decision to hire somebody (a professional) to do the body work and paint the truck. Long story short, the guy ended up ripping me off and the only thing he painted was the cab and the doors. He over charged me and his paint job had runs, bugs and dirt in it. At that point in time I spent too much of my budget on him and I had to finish the remainder of the body work and paint myself.

Other factors affected the rest of the paint job too, like the temperature on days I painted, thinning the paint, using two different spray guns, and the list goes on. Hind sight is 20-20, but the next time I know better. I am hoping color sanding and buffing the paint will help some, which is the next step in the process. I will wet sand the entire truck using 1500 grit sandpaper followed by 2000 grit sandpaper and then buff the entire truck using a buffer and a good quality Meguiar’s polishing compound.

After I color sand and buff the paint I can put the chrome, and lights back on the truck. The side chrome pieces that came with the truck were painted black in the middle originally. I removed the black paint and cleaned and polished all the side chrome pieces. At the last minute I decided to paint the middle section of the chrome pieces to match the darker color I used on the front bumper, the center section of the hood, and  on the tailgate. I masked the chrome off, lightly sanded the center sections, cleaned it good with wax and grease remover and sprayed and cleared them when I sprayed the tailgate.

The next piece of the puzzle is to get the exhaust done. Up to this point I have done everything on this restoration myself, but I plan to pay a shop to do the custom exhaust. The exhaust will be done using 3-inch mandrel-bent pipe, exhaust cut-outs, an X pipe, mufflers and tips.

I’ll keep you posted

Mark Polk

Auto Education 101

The truck came with a rear chrome bumper, but it had a couple bad dents that would be difficult to straighten, and it would need to be re-chromed. I fabricated a front winch bumper for the truck and now it was time to do something on the back. I thought about fabricating more of a bulky 4X4 type bumper but my son said I should consider a roll pan for a nice clean look. I’ve seen lots of roll pans on trucks but never considered it on the power wagon. After giving it some thought I made the decision to to try fabricating the roll pan.

fabricate roll pan for power wagonThe first thing I did was cut the old license plate section out so I could use it in the new roll pan.  Once that was done there was no turning back, so I found a piece of good heavy gauge metal in the shop and cut it to the length and width I wanted. I left a little extra on the width since it would need to be heated and shaped to match the contour and rear bed corner lines.

roll pan tack license plate holder in placeNext I cut a section out for the license plate holder and tacked the old piece in place. I fabricated the top and side pieces of the roll pan and welded them in place. At first I wanted to design it so the roll pan could be removed, and I didn’t want any bolts to show when it was installed, so I fabricated some brackets that would bolt to the frame and welded them on the back of the roll pan.

roll pan bondo

I clamped the roll pan down to the work bench with a piece of pipe under it so I could heat the metal and shape it to the curve of the pipe. It wasn’t perfect, but it worked. I ground all of the welds down smooth and used some Bondo to clean up the edges.


roll pan test fit on truck

The only thing left to do is figure out if I want to install any flush-mounted lights in the roll pan our leave it smooth. Then I can prime and paint it to match the front bumper.



roll pan paintedAt the last minute I decided to weld the roll pan in place and do the body work to get a nice clean finished look. I finished the roll pan, sanded the bed and tailgate and sprayed them. This is how the roll pan turned out. Now I can move on to the custom exhaust system.

Mark Polk

Auto Education 101

Older Posts »



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 38 other followers