1969-1973 Dodge Polara
A trip back in time suggested through a link found in a 140 character micro burst at TWITTER!
I am glad I took a look - I'm sure you will be too.
... notes from The EDJE
by Chris Hafner on January 29, 2009
Updated--new text under videos at source.
This week, which began as innocently as any other, has turned decidedly bizarre--Car Lust has been overrun with a series of paeans to strange, floaty, oversized, underpowered 1970s American cars. In the context of Cookie the Dog's Owner's father's* Ford LTD and Rob the SVX Guy's Mercury Grand Marquis, Rich Menga's "Free Spirit" Buick Century looks downright Lilliputian. In what other context would that be true? Brace yourselves--I can promise that Friday's subject won't be any smaller or more demure. I think this week's inadvertent theme is wildly compelling, which shouldn't come as any surprise considering my embarrassing predilection for such 1970s anti-heroes as the Impala, Gran Fury, Monaco, and Continental Mk. V. Since I'd like to keep this compelling string of leviathan lusts rolling, I'm going to take this opportunity to honor one of the greatest full-size American cars ever made--the 1969-1973 Dodge Polara. This isn't the Polara's first appearance in Car Lust--you may remember that an immaculate 1972 Polara 440 Interceptor was a narrow runner-up in our $25,000 Challenge. The Polara name seems to be virtually unknown nowadays outside of Mopar enthusiast groups, but there was a time when Polaras were famous--or, perhaps, infamous--as huge, bellowing police cars. Most police cruisers fail to live up to the cachet promised by the "interceptor" name, but Polaras were normal police cars just like Dirty Harry was a normal policeman. Like Harry Callahan, the Polara stood for justice but not necessarily for fairness; it upheld the law in the most brutish, intimidating, and outrageously effective manner possible. With 375-horsepower, 440-cubic-inch muscle car big block engines and taut heavy-duty suspensions, Polaras inspired awe, fear, and respect. Just as lawmen of the 1880 carried the same shotguns, rifles, and revolvers as the highwaymen, so too did the Polara-equipped policeman sport the same high-caliber firepower as the lawless muscle-car drivers of the 1960s and early 1970s. Forget about small-block-equipped Camaros, Mustangs, Cougars, 4-4-2s and GTOs; street-racing punks needed some really high-octane machinery to stay ahead of a 440 Polara Interceptor. With a 0-60 time right around 6 seconds flat and a top speed in the 140-mph range, the Polara could dispense with anything short of a Chevelle 454, a Hemi Charger, a Corvette L88, a big-block Shelby Cobra, or Ferrari 250 GTO. The Polara would have qualified as a serious performance car even two decades later, in the late 1980. Even now, four decades after its debut, the Polara wouldn't exactly be considered a slouch. The Polara Interceptor's message was simple: "Do. Not. Mess. With. Me." Ron Hurwitz is living my dream; he found an ex-California Highway Patrol '69 Polara 440 and restored it from junk to absolutely breathtaking perfection. Check out the Hemmings article on Hurwitz's terrifically gorgeous car here. The street Polara could be ordered with the big 440 as well, but it brought Detroit full-size elegance to the party. I have always found the combination of a bellowing V-8 with massive acreage of early 1970s style compelling, and the Polara captures it perfectly. After '69, some subsequent but relatively minor changes to the front fascia transformed the Polara from brutish to brooding, from head-turning to heart-stopping. Perhaps it's just me; but I think the '70-'72 Polaras look long and lithe, with just a hint of sinister intent. Two-door or four, I think these cars are quintissential examples of the early 1970s American full-size cruiser. The Polara epitomized everything that was right with Detroit at the time--burbling, relaxed, torquey V-8s, some with real horsepower; pliant, pillowy, ride; distinctive and attractive styling; and above all, room for your family and their 20 closest friends. Unfortunately, the Polara couldn't escape everything that was wrong with Detroit at the time, either--indifferent build quality and and fuel economy completely out of step with the needs of the time. Some friends of ours used to own an immaculate 1971 two-door Polara with the 318 V-8. The small V-8 didn't put out enough power to make the massive Polara anything close to quick, but it was a gorgeous shade of blue and all original. It was one of the longest coupes I've ever seen, but the size of the shadow it cast was tiny compared to its impact on my psyche. Sedan, coupe, convertible, or wagon, the gorgeous Polara was available in a variety of delectable flavors--I want to sample them all. Someday, perhaps, when I finally indulge my passion for a 1970s full-size American car. The first video below describes the '72 Polara as a "clean, uncluttered beauty." Amen, brother. At the 0:05 mark, just look at how long and lovely that sucker is! "The smooth, sure control of torsion-quiet ride," though? Not so much. The second commercial spends virtually no time talking about the Polara, concentrating instead on the hilarity of a married couple bickering about the air conditioning. Ha! Ha! Ha! Oh, the hilarity. Unfortunately, you'll need to wipe away your tears of mirth before proceeding. The next two ads take a more serious tone--the perils of "Dodge Fever" are clearly demonstrated in the destruction of an important scientific project and the tragic death of an innocent bridge worker. The first and last images come from Allpar's Polara page; as always, Allpar is the definitive information source for all things Mopar. The second image of the '69 Polara Interceptor comes from Muscle Car Calendar, and the two shots of the lovely convertible come from Flickr user cbody70. For those interested in more information, Fuselage.de is another great source, with loads of original print ads and a nice description of every Mopar full-size car from 1969 to 1973.