Cars

Once a Dodge man, always a Dodge man

Sean Fischer has been a diehard Dodge fan since he was 13 years old. His 1964 Dodge Polara 500 hardtop is celebrating its 50th birthday this year, meaning it is actually four years older than its owner.
Sean Fischer has been a diehard Dodge fan since he was 13 years old. His 1964 Dodge Polara 500 hardtop is celebrating its 50th birthday this year, meaning it is actually four years older than its owner. The Wichita Eagle

Sean Fischer has been a “Dodge man” for a good, long time, in fact ever since he was a teenager.

“I bought a 1970 Dodge Charger when I was 14 years old, with money I saved from my paper route,” he said. “I had to push it outside to show it to my friends because my parents kept the keys to it.”

It was a long two years before he had his driver’s license and could get behind the wheel.

“I think I must have gone through three tanks of gas that first night,” he chuckled. “I think I’ve had ‘Dodge Fever’ ever since.”

Fischer has owned many cars since then, most of them Dodges. Two beautiful examples, both 1964 models, now share space in his garage. They share the same basic DNA, but are strikingly different in many ways.

One is a potent 1964 Dodge 330 two-door sedan drag car that he built and has owned for 25 years. The other is a classy, top-of-the-line, street-cruising 1964 Dodge Polara 500 that he’s owned for a little over a year.

“This car was sold new at Pittsburg,” he said, describing the quarter-miler. “It’s spent its whole life in Kansas. I bought it from a friend of mine at Conway Springs. It was a bare shell.

“I did the whole car top to bottom. I wanted to build a Max Wedge Super Stock car, a factory race car,” he explained.

The 330 sedan was the perfect starting point, as the sedan offered both the light weight and the chassis stiffness that super stock competitors prized back in the 1960s. Most likely, it had rolled out of the factory with a Slant Six engine, a basic grocery-getter, Fischer said.

With the help of a friend, Denny Prothro, Fischer set about remedying that. The most potent Dodge competition engine of the day was a 426 wedge-head V-8 outfitted with a cross-ram, dual 4-barrel carburetor intake manifold. The engine was rated at 425 horsepower.

Fischer upped the ante on his engine considerably, massaging a set of Max Wedge heads, installing an aftermarket roller camshaft and a set of custom-built Step tubular exhaust headers. A pair of Carter AFB carburetors sit atop the wide racing intake and require a lot of fine-tuning for maximum power.

“This motor is making well over 750 horsepower now,” Fischer said. Handling all that horsepower is a modified G-Force racing 4-speed manual transmission and a Long shifter. Putting the power to the pavement is a 9-inch Ford differential equipped with a racing spool using 5:43 gears and “bulletproof” axles.

The car has upgraded disc brakes at all four corners and still runs the basic factory torsion bar front suspension. Mickey Thompson drag slicks and narrow M/T Frontrunner tires are used, along with Cragar Super Trick racing wheels.

Mike Anderson of Crossroads Collision handled the body work and then sprayed the Dodge a nice, refreshing “Refrigerator White.” Fischer named the car after Dodge’s advertising slogan of the day, “Dodge Fever,” and had that slogan copied and reproduced in gold chrome to adorn the doors.

The exterior contrasts nicely with the bright red vinyl racing interior, which features a 10-point padded roll cage, the correct Dodge A100 van bucket seats, Auto Meter instrumentation and fixed windows, complete with the racing door panels, which have only door latches, no window cranks.

“It’s about as Super Stock legal as you can get,” Fischer said. As built and raced, the car would have run in the SS/E class back in the day.

“It’s a blast to drive,” said Fischer, who has campaigned the car on the Ozark Mountain Super Shifters circuit.

“I usually launch at around 5,000 rpm … shift at around 6,800 and go through the lights. It leaves with the wheels up and sometimes lifts them higher in second gear than low.” The car has a best quarter mile performance of 9.80 seconds, 136 mph.

As much fun as it is, Fischer was a little frustrated that the only time the car got out was on race days. So he was looking for something he could enjoy on the street and at car shows.

He found it in the possession of another friend, who owned the 1964 Dodge Polara 500 two-door hardtop that now serves as the “little brother” to his drag car.

That car was sold new in Milwaukee before eventually making its way to Kansas.

“It’s never spent a night outside,” said Fisher, who said the car was probably repainted once in the original Dodge Beige about 30 years ago.

The car had already had its 383 cubic inch engine balanced and blueprinted and Vintage Air air conditioning installed. The bucket seat/center console interior was in remarkable condition, considering the car was almost a half century old.

Fischer was Impressed by its miles of chrome trim and stunning good looks.

“I actually traded a 2009 Dodge Challenger RT that I had bought brand new … straight across for this car. He was happy and I was happy. We just swapped titles. That’s how bad I wanted this car,” Fischer said.

“I figured everybody was going to give me a hard time. But I thought I could always go out and get me another Challenger, and you just don’t find these around every corner.

“All the hard work was already done. I’ve just kept it nice and taken it to car shows and cruises,” Fischer said.

The Polara is an automatic, but has a few upgrades, such as the classic 15-inch Cragar SS chrome wheels, which mount reproduction Firestone bias ply tires in the front and massive reproduction “piecrust” cheater slicks in the rear.

Power drum brakes and power steering are standard equipment and this Dodge still runs a Dodge 8-3/4-inch rear end fitted with 4:10 gears, which makes it something less than a gas-sipper.

“If you have one of these, you don’t even care about gas mileage,” Fischer grinned.

“Sometimes I just come out here and stare at these cars. I can’t even imagine them being driven around when they were new.”

Now he’s trying his hand at something different, building a 1946 business coupe as a Hemi-powered street rod.

The brand? It’s a Dodge, of course.

Reach Mike Berry at mberry@wichitaeagle.com.

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