Rediscovering the 1957 Dodge Crusader Abandoned for Decades

In the vibrant automotive landscape of the 1950s, American car manufacturers introduced distinctive models tailored exclusively for the Canadian market. Among them, Pontiac showcased an impressive lineup of Canada-exclusive cars, such as the Laurentian, Pathfinder, Strato-Chief, and Parisienne. These vehicles ingeniously combined Chevrolet bodies with Pontiac aesthetics, creating a sense of exclusivity. Similarly, Chrysler embarked on a similar endeavor, reimagining specific Plymouth models under the Dodge brand. These uniquely Canadian Dodges became affectionately known as “Plodges.”

Chrysler’s strategic decision to interchange components between its Plymouth and Dodge vehicles for the Canadian market traces back to the early 1950s. The journey commenced with the Regent, essentially a Plymouth Cranbrook, and the Crusader, derived from the Cambridge model. In 1953, the Dodge Mayfair joined the league, serving as Canada’s equivalent of the renowned Plymouth Belvedere. While the Regent and Mayfair continued production until 1959, the Crusader met its end in 1958. Today, we delve into the fascinating story of the Crusader.

The Evolution of the Crusader: A Plymouth Cambridge Transformed

Initially based on the Plymouth Cambridge, the Crusader underwent a metamorphosis in 1954, emerging as a rebranded version of the Plaza. In 1955, it received the iconic “Forward Look” makeover designed by Virgil Exner. Despite its remarkable transformation, the Crusader struggled to achieve the same sales success as its American counterparts. For instance, in 1957, Dodge Canada sold a mere 8,418 Crusaders, with only 2,101 of them equipped with V8 engines. The remaining 6,317 units rolled off the assembly line with inline-six engines. Consequently, the 1957 Crusader stands today as one of the rarest Dodges from the 1950s.

Rediscovering the Last Remaining 1957 Crusader

Now, let’s turn our attention to the reason behind highlighting the 1957 model year. Simply put, an astonishing discovery has been made—a potential sighting of the last surviving 1957 Crusader two-door sedan. Although I cannot independently verify this claim, the absence of any documented online evidence showcasing other two-door Dodges from 1957, besides the Regents and Custom Royals, suggests that the owner’s assertion may hold true.

The exact number of two-door sedans produced remains a mystery due to limited information on body style breakdowns. Nevertheless, considering the production trends of that era, it is safe to estimate that less than 15% of the 1957 Crusaders were ordered in this configuration, resulting in fewer than 1,300 cars. If we further narrow it down to inline-six models like the one under discussion, the count dwindles to fewer than 950 units. While these numbers may seem significant, it is not implausible to think that many of them might still lie dormant in scrapyards, waiting to be rediscovered.

A Remarkable Rescue: From Rusty Relic to Potential Restoration

In 2009, our passionate host stumbled upon this once-gorgeous embodiment of the “Forward Look” design in a desolate junkyard. For years, neglect had taken its toll, leaving behind rust spots, missing parts, and a forlorn existence. To most, it appeared destined for the crusher, but our tenacious host saw its hidden potential and resolved to rescue and restore it.

Despite its dilapidated state, the Crusader proudly retains its original engine beneath the weathered hood. Powering this classic is a 230-cubic-inch (3.8-liter) inline-six, meticulously paired with a three-speed column-shifted transmission. While not particularly renowned for their horsepower, boasting a modest 132 horsepower, these engines present a favorable advantage for restoration due to their simplicity.

As we enter the year 2023, the “Plodge” patiently awaits its revival, with the determined owner pledging to breathe life back into its weary chassis. For avid enthusiasts of Canadian Mopars, this rediscovered 1957 Dodge Crusader is bound to captivate your imagination. To catch a glimpse of this rare gem, click the play button below.

In conclusion, the 1957 Dodge Crusader represents a truly unique and rare Canadian gem from the automotive industry. Its status as one of the last surviving two-door sedans adds an air of intrigue and allure to its story. With its remarkable journey from abandonment to potential restoration, this Crusader stands as a testament to the passion and dedication of car enthusiasts. As the years pass, we eagerly await the day when this classic beauty will once again grace the roads, showcasing the captivating legacy of Canadian Mopars.

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