2007 Totcky Award Winner

1954 Dodge

Submitted by Bob B.

Late in the afternoon in the fall of 1996 a fellow stopped by my office asking to see me. We were busy so Luci asked the nature of his business. He replied, "I have an old car outside on my trailer he might be interested in." After a few more inquiries, I made arrangements to meet him later that evening...So with Ray H. in tow, I went to Paint Rock and saw a 1954 Dodge Royal convertible and yes it had its original Hemi! It was tutone blue and rust but seemed complete; after some dickering, the seller won, I paid him his price and brought it home.

It didn't run or have working brakes so we first rebuilt the brakes -- Ray had a new/old stock master cylinder, wheel cylinders were sleeved, and new brake shoes and new lines completed the task. Now it would stop...so I needed to make it go. Ray helped me clean the plugs and points and prime the carburetor. I installed a new battery and tied it behind the truck. It ran! We enjoyed that for three or four miles then came home and I began tearing it down.

All chrome went to the platers in Feb 1997 to be returned in March 1998. The engine was removed, disassembled, and rebuilt with Ray's help. I stripped all the paint, took off the hood, front fenders, doors, trunk lid, dash and instruments and hung everything on the walls or stacked them in the corners of the shop. Much later I realized I should have made some pictures or tagged things or at least made notes what went where. I intended to finish this baby quickly, but it didn't happen until I semi-retired in 2005. Then the thought crossed my mind that if I should die (does retirement make one feel old?) what would Luci do with this old car?

I found the correct wire spoke wheels in California through an ad in Hemmings, contacted a friend in West Virginia (who is the nearest thing to an expert on these cars), and set to work. Bennie Buckner had lots of advice and some of the parts I needed. By this time, the brakes needed to be redone again, so I went back to square one.

With Ray's and Tim S.'s encouragement and advice, I painted the car myself, sanded it off and painted again, sanded...well, you get the idea. By this time the car was looking quite spiffy. We bought upholstery fabric at Sir's in Fayetteville, TN but opted out of doing that ourselves. The upholstery and the rag top are the only things done outside my shop.

UAH student parking permits for 1968, 69, 70, and 71 were affixed to the windshield and I was told the car resided one-quarter mile from my office for years all unbeknownst to me.

In 1954, the Royal V-8 was selected for the Indianapolis 500 Pace Car. There were only 2000 produced of which 701 were equipped as Pace cars. Horsepower was rated at 150, it has a 2-speed PowerFlite transmission and power steering. The Red Ram engine set 196 AAA-certified stock car records at Bonneville at a top speed of 108.36 mph in the 10 mile run, it dominated the famous Mexican Road Race pacing 1-2-3-4-6-9, and topped all other eight cylinder cars in the Mobilgas Economy Run with an average of 25.4 miles per gallon.

Her name is Matilda after the wife of one of the Dodge brothers. It is a real pleasure to drive. Many thanks for the Totcky Award.

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