Dodge Custom Royal Lancer D-500

Chrysler’s spectacularly successful Forward Look charged into its second year with bladelike tailfins, pushbutton transmissions and ever-increasing V8 power under the hood. Along with flamboyant two and three-tone paint jobs, the ‘56s carried equally-flashy model names - Dodge’s top-line Custom Royal Lancer, for example.

Virgil Exner’s modest 1956 tailfins sprouted swept-back radio antennae - one on each fender. Inside the car, the gear selector for Chrysler’s Powerflite automatic transmission was replaced by five pushbuttons grouped in a mini-console on the left side of the instrument panel.

Overnight, Dodge’s image swung wildly from dependability to performance. The 1956 Dodge D-500 was a pivotal car for the division, marking the brand’s overnight transition from conservative family car to race ready performance.

Source: Walter P. Chrysler Museum

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