By John Quilter
I seem to always desire a replica model of something that is currently not a production item. That led me to take a slightly damaged 1954 Dodge convertible selling at a deep discount on eBay and turn it into a four door sedan. Which in reality was a far more common and popular car than the convertible. There were three trim levels of Dodge sedans in this era, an entry level Meadowbook, a Coronet and the top of the line Royal. I chose the top line Royal for my prototype. All of these would have had the Dodge Red Ram 241 cid “Hemi” V8 engine which was only in its second year. New to the Dodge line in ’54 was a fully automatic gearbox, the Powerflite but standard gearboxes were three speeds with or without an overdrive. Research shows that the convertibles, two door hardtops, and two door station wagons were built on the Plymouth wheelbase of 114 inches. The sedans and four door wagon were on a longer chassis with 119 inch wheelbase.
That entailed cutting the body in the mid-section and stretching it while creating a rear door and shortening the length of the front door. Much study of detailed magazine articles, books and Google images also revealed that the rear quarter panel and trunk lid were longer on the sedans. So that meant yet another cut just forward of the tail lamps and a small increase in length here as well. The windscreen on the convertible is a bit too low so that had to be cut and raised.
For a top I just happened to have a Franklin Mint 1952 Desoto sedan top which with much modification, such as sectioning to narrow it and a major reshaping of the rear side windows resulted in a pretty good roof. A drip rail was fabricated with thin wire and glued in place. I added extra two toning to the seat upholstery and to the dash which on 1954 cars had a white section to complement the body main body colour of the all metal dash panel. Door handles were created from small “L” shaped sections of chrome coloured solder.
I had some wheels and white wall tires in stock that reasonably replicated the Dodge full wheel covers and common of the era, white walls. Few if any sedans would have been optioned with the Mopar chrome wire wheels that Brooklin fit to this version of their convertible, a replica of the Indianapolis pace car of that year.
A study of the Dodge colour chips of that year showed that a colour Bedford Blue and Sunstrand were a two tone combination and I happened to have almost exact match colours in Krylon aerosol paints.
By far the most difficult process in these conversions, at least for me, is to create the curved windscreen and back glass. I’m never quite happy with the result and my technique is in constant revision.
So with this Royal sedan I now have a set of three ’54 Dodges, the stock Brooklin yellow convertible, an earlier conversion creating a Sierra four door wagon and now the sedan. Will Brookin, NEO, White Box or ? now make a production one making mine just a one off custom chop by a hobbyist?
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