Here’s the complete rundown on the Dependable Dodge line for 1954.
The advertising theme at Dodge for 1954 was “elegance in action,” though it was a tall and boxy form of elegance. Chrysler’s powerful chief executive, K.T. Keller, who had succeeded Walter P. Chrysler himself in 1935, insisted on high rooflines on all the company’s products so that passengers could ride with their hats on. No fan of the longer, lower trend in styling, he once told his designers, “We build cars to sit in, not to pee over,” or so the story goes. Chrysler’s styling trailed behind the rest of the industry through the first half of the 1950s and sales suffered as a result—until Virgil Exner’s daring Forward Look arrived in 1955.
On the plus side for ’54, Dodge could offer the advanced Red Ram hemi V8, which made its debut the year before. (Check out our feature on the Red Ram here.) And there was a new and improved Powerflite fully automatic transmission to replace the quirky Gyro-Torque semi-automatic box, and Chrysler’s pioneering power steering system, too. Dodge served as the pace car for the Indy 500 that year, so there was a $201 pace car option with Kelsey-Hayes wire wheels and continental spare, and a separate dealer kit was offered that included an Offenhauser intake manifold to boost the Red Ram’s power beyond the rated 150 hp.
Alas, no California speed equipment is mentioned in the original Dodge commercial below. Instead, the emphasis is on “the dependable Dodge,” a traditional theme in the brand’s messaging through the years. (Decades earlier, a famous Ted MacManus ad claimed, questionably, that Dodge had inspired the coinage of the word “dependability.”) In this spot, a couple is preparing for their upcoming vacation, which brings to mind the old showroom floor adage that Americans buy their cars for the vacations they never take. Hmm, that may explain all the giant SUVs on the road today. Video follows.
Article courtesy of Mac's Motor City.