Future classic: 1965 426-Hemi Dodge, Plymouth

1965 Ply Belvedere II 2 dr hrdtp lft

Bob Golfen’s story last week on the ClassicCars.com Blog about the 50th anniversary of Chrysler’s 426 Hemi engine got us to thinking about the cars in which that engine first hit the road.

That’s the road, not the race track.

As Bob noted, the engine made its debut in 1964 with a 1-2-3 sweep of the Daytona 500, but was banned for the 1965 stock car racing season because the engine had not been available in any 1964-model-year passenger cars.

1965 Dodge Coronet
1965 Dodge Coronet

Chrysler remedied that by putting the 426 Hemi into nearly 7,000 cars for the 1965 model year (and NASCAR invited the Hemi-powered Dodges and Plymouths back on the track in 1966). However, as pointed out in the Standard Catalog of American Cars, 1946-1975, only 360 of those nearly 7,000 1965-model-year passenger cars were equipped with all-out, highest-performance “Race Hemis.” The automotive encyclopedia notes that “Race Hemis” were sold “as is” and carried no manufacturer’s warranty.

Anyway, we all remember when muscle-car era Hemi ‘Cudas became million-dollar collector cars, but how have the cars that first carried the historic engine fared with classic car enthusiasts?

According to the Kelley Blue Book Collector’s Edition price guide, the presence of a factory-installed 426 Hemi in a 1965 Dodge Coronet boosts its value by 75 percent.

Meanwhile, the Hagerty Price Guide reports that a Hemi-powered 1965 Coronet two-door sedan in “fair” condition — meaning it’s a “driver” but in need of restoration — should be available for around $12,000. It adds, howeveer, that same car in concours condition likely will cost you only around $35,000.

Make that Coronet a concours-condition hardtop and the price escalates to around $50,000. Make it a convertible and you’re looking at $70K.

1965 Plymouth Belvedere
1965 Plymouth Belvedere

The Coronet was Dodge’s “intermediate” sized car. It’s cousin was the Plymouth Belvedere. Their competitors included the Ford Fairlane and Chevrolet Chevelle.

For the 1965 model year, the 426 Hemi also was available in the full-size Dodge Polara and Custom 880 and Plymouth Fury. It is interesting to note, however, that the Sport Fury convertible that was the pace car for the 1965 Indy 500 carried not a 426 Hemi but a 383-cid Commando V8 under its hood.

 

One thought on “Future classic: 1965 426-Hemi Dodge, Plymouth”

  1. You have the years wrong! There were 426 Hemi’s advertised in the sales literature, for Dodge & Plymouth, in 1965, but NONE were available for sale to the public. They were only available in 1965, in the A-990 cars, and that was a race Hemi, not a street Hemi. In 1964, the race Hemi was available (and new), for racing only (no street Hemi’s). That was the A-864 cars. The Street Hemi, was relesaed (fore the public), in 1966. Caveat: Mopar put a few 426 Street Hemi’s in either ’65 Dodge, or Plymouth, and they drove them around the Detroit area, to see the reaction, from anyone on the street. It was favorable (of course!), and that was the pre-cursor to the ’66 Street Hemi cars. Again…NO 426 Hemi cars for the street, (read for sale to John Q. Public), in 1965! There were 426/365 Street Wedge engines, available (for anyone), in 1964 & 1965. When Bill France (senior), “outlawed the Race Hemi from NASCAR racing in 1965 (and the B-Bodies Dodge & Plymouth cars), then Plymouth, & Dodge could only race the new “C”-body cars, with the 426/365 street wedge engines. NO HEMI’S ALLOWED! until 1966. (Richard Petty), again wins the Daytona 500, in a 1966 Belvedere II hardtop car! The debut of the new 426 Race Hemi) in February, 1964 at the Daytona 500, (Lead-by #1 finisher King Richard Petty, in a 1964 Plymouth, followed by 2nd, & 3rd place finisher’s…ALL 426 Hemi cars… A clean-sweep1, 2, & 3!

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