Hagerty Inc.

06/22/2024 | News release | Distributed by Public on 06/22/2024 12:07

This Crusty Coronet Is a Work in Progress

Hagerty is celebrating its first-ever HDC Days from June 21 to June 23, with great discounts from our partners, choose-your-own adventure experiences, contests, and more. We're also celebrating all this week online with some terrific cars and trucks owned by Hagerty Drivers Club members. Like this one . . .

Ethan Billhime
Orlando, Florida

Before the Dodge Charger, or the Challenger that seems to have replaced it in the modern day, there was the Dodge Coronet-the frumpier older sister to both cars that the entire B-body Mopar craze hinged on.

Yes, I'm giving all the credit to the original B-body dream machine because, well, it was first. (Not that I'm biased or anything . . .)

In 1966, the Dodge Coronet became the first vehicle to feature Chrysler's new 426 street Hemi, and it was the first to feature the R/T badge in 1967. Even Jay Leno found enough favor with them to own one of the 1966 Coronet 500 Hemis.

Ethan Billhime

This car, however, is absolutely none of those things. The drivetrain in my Coronet featured a 318 small-block and an automatic transmission, and it came with power steering and power-sapping air conditioning.

By the time I found this car, it had been rotting away in the elements for years, just longing for the sweet release of the crusher. Instead, I gave it new life, in a Frankenstein kind of way, in a storage unit in central Kansas. I like to think that my brutal non-purist modifications perfectly embody what Mopar represents-or maybe it's just because I wanted to do it this way and somebody gave me access to an angle grinder and a welder. Who's really to say?

Ethan Billhime

Now, this once-rotting heap has been outfitted with a 383-cid big-block, Which will soon be upgraded to a 440 because, I, uh, grenaded the 383. Regardless, it's mated to an A-833 four-speed transmission using a Lakewood scattershield bellhousing and 11-inch flywheel. Eventually, I'll install a 3.55 Sure Grip rear end . . . just as soon as the car stops sending driveshafts into the stratosphere.

The interior features only the finest of sun-baked Mexican blankets, which are fastened to the seat frames and really just serve as bags to hold the disintegrating seat foam together. The headliner, meanwhile, was crafted under the experienced eye of my quilting grandmother in her livingroom.

Ethan BillhimeEthan Billhime

Truthfully, the car is a wreck that rolls. Covered in tree moss that refuses to come off, dented up like a derby car, wheeling around on tires old enough to have a license of their own, with an engine that has a hole in the block big enough to pass the International Space Station through. I call it the Flying Dutchman, and will indeed require a hundred years of service before my soul knows any peace. Which will still be a hell of a lot faster than if I had a Ford or a Chevrolet. #MoparNoCar!

Ethan Billhime


Check out the Hagerty Media homepage so you don't miss a single story, or better yet, bookmark it. To get our best stories delivered right to your inbox, subscribe to our newsletters.

Click below for more about