Sometime after 10:00 pm I was going to return to the auction to see what the Royal 500 was going to bring and my wife asked out of the blue if she could attend the auction with me. Wayne decided to spend the rest of the evening with his wife, so Lynn and I returned to the auction. At about 11:20 that Friday night the Royal 500 came onto the block. By this time I had spoken to Lynn about my history with the Dodge Royal model. She thought the car was quite unique looking and thought it was worth while pursuing. I bid it to the point of being comfortable price wise and left it to carry on with two other bidders.
Amongst this car were Evil Kneivels personal Maserati and a 1956 Keiser. Of the over 1000 vehicles at the auction, I had seen pretty well all the vehicles if only in pictures, with the exception of the Royal 500. I was never even aware that this model of car was ever built and this intrigued me as I still owned a 54 Royal. At the sale this vehicle was advertised as #219 out of 701 build. It was also on loan to the Walter P Chrysler Museum for 2 years in 2002. At the time, I really had no history on this model but mentioned it to my wife.
At that point Lynn leaned over to me and said "Why did you quit bidding?" I responded that it was selling higher than I wanted to bid. She asked "Have you ever seen a car like this before?" in which I responded I did not know they even built this model. She asked "Do you ever think you will get the opportunity to see a car like this again?" in which I said it would probably end up in someone’s garage under cover and because of being so limited, I would probably never see another one. At that point she remarked "Again I ask you, why did you quit bidding?" I guess we all know what happened. It now sits in my garage under cover seldom to be seen by others!
Ironically my wife did not see the vehicle prior to it going across the block. My friend and I attended 5 of the 6 days of the auction. I was interested in 2 vehicles at the sale, the Royal 500 and a nicely restored 1963 Imperial Convertible. The Imperial came across the block at 7:45 on the Friday evening and even though I bid on it, two other bidders took it higher than I set my limit. Wayne and I then left the auction to pick up our wives to go for a late dinner.
When I purchased this car I was surprised the car not only had the convertible top up the entire week, but crossed the block with the top up, which was unusual. All other convertibles at the sale crossed top down. I had the car transported back to Canada on FTS Transport. On its arrival we investigated the tops inability to retract and found the problem was two of the arms that over center to allow the top to retract were put on backwards. We then prepared the car to attain its out of province inspection; however the electrical system had ghosts running through it. First, the rear signal light would not work. Fixed that and brake lights wouldn't work. Fixed that, then headlight failed. Fixed that then gas gauge wouldn't work.
Finally, my one mechanic that is an electrical guru reached under the dash grabbed the wires and came out with a hand full of fiber that coated the wire. We immediately disconnected the battery. We waited about 3 months, but received a new wiring harness that is rubber coated, but looks identical to the old fiber coated wire. After a few other minor fixes the car is as clean as it was coming out of the factory door 60 years earlier. Up until spring of 2014 I have only seen this one Royal 500. Another popped up on the internet in early 2014 as a barn find in eastern USA. This car was for sale but in very rough shape. I believe this to be the car advertised at Barrett-Jackson at Scottsdale 2015. Just by chance I am attending this auction so it should be interesting to see what it sells for and perhaps I may have the opportunity to speak to the purchaser.
In many cases we have all seen ads where people selling their antique and classic vehicles that look for a good home for their prize possessions. Even though I purchased the Royal 500 through an auction I have such a passion for the preservation of the Mopar brand to preserve such limited production vehicles to be seen and enjoyed by future generations. In 2014 we just completed an eight year rotisserie restoration of a 1963 Imperial Lebaron that was 1 of 1537 built.
I would like to thank the Northern Mopars Auto Club for the opportunity to display my Royal 500 at the 2014 World Of Wheels. In particular, Larry and the other members of the club that looked after my car in my absence. They deserve a big pat on the back for all the time in prepping the display and looking after the organization of the event as well as being the caretakers of the clubs heritage.
To fast forward nineteen years, it was on my bucket list to attend a Barrett-Jackson auction and in January 2009 the opportunity presented itself. I had no idea at the time what was on neither the sales docket nor what to expect about the experience, but decided to apply for a bidder’s number prior to attending the sale, only to get the full experience even though I had no intention of buying anything. While wandering through the tents and grounds at the sales facility, which reminds you of a stampede exhibition grounds with a different venue, we came across the 1954 Dodge Royal Pace Car in the main tent where many of the specialty cars were housed.
For the next 2 ½ years I drove the 54 Royal as a primary vehicle and when I say I drove it, I drove it hard! It surprised both myself and friends as to how much power this car had compared to how heavy it was, and the stability was surprising in cornering and ride. In 1973 I purchased a 1973 Dart Sport but continued to drive the 54 Royal for my work vehicle. In 1977 I finally parked the Royal in the back 40 with 196,000 miles on it. The old girl was virtually indestructible.
In 1991 I pulled the 54 Royal from the back 40 into our company maintenance shop and began a full restoration which was complete about one year later. There was body rust in the two rear quarter panels and under the chrome rockers, but for the mileage and years it was an easy fix. There had never been any body damage to the vehicle. All panels were clean and straight other than rust.
Without dating myself, my exposure to the 1954 Dodge Royal began at birth. Two months before my birth my dad bought a new Dodge Royal and this was the family vehicle until 1960, at which time he bought a Dodge Suburban Wagon because the family outgrew the Royal. Dad continued to drive the 54 Royal as a second vehicle until 1969, at which time at the age of 15 I purchased the car to prepare for my 16th birthday. At this point the old Royal had 135,000 miles.
It was during the 1991 restoration that I started to get an interest as to why dad was drawn to purchase the 54 Royal. All I really got as an answer to my questions were that the car had a V8 Hemi motor and fully automatic that was easy for mom to drive, all as standard equipment.