Today’s Nice Price or No Dice Dodge Sierra comes from an era when Chrysler was financially on the ropes. The car’s classy style and heavy-hitter V8 make it a good thing the company survived. Let’s see if this wagon’s price makes it a financially sound investment.
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When General Motors introduced its new Saturn division in 1985, it debuted innovations in both the company and cars. Most notably, the cars were plastic-bodied, immune to parking lot door dents and body rust. The company’s most significant contribution was no-haggle pricing, a first for any GM division and a practice that made the buying process much less daunting for inexperienced car buyers. Alas, all good things must come to an end, and GM killed off Saturn in 2010 after its 25-year experiment was deemed a failure. That’s left us with some wonderful orphans like yesterday’s tidy and clean 2002 Saturn SC2 with its funky third door and frugal fuel efficiency. It was all anyone could want in a cheap, cheerful runabout, and its $3,950 asking price didn’t elicit much haggling in the comments and resulted in an overwhelming 90 percent Nice Price win in the voting.
What do you think is the best name a manufacturer has given to an engine? I’ve always been partial to the Willys “Hurricane” four myself. Today’s 1957 Dodge Sierra is powered by one of Mopar’s innovative and extremely capable “Hemi” V8s, and it was given the excellent designation of “Red Ram.” This was only the fourth year that a V8 of any kind was made available in Dodge’s model line following a 20-year hiatus, and the company wasn’t shying away from making it a statement.
With a single four-barrel carb, the 325 cubic-inch displacement V8 managed a healthy 285 horsepower in the top-of-the-line D500 performance model. A dealer-installed dual-quad setup bumped that up to 310 horses.
This Sierra’s engine breathes through an aftermarket Edelbrock four-barrel and likely gets a steadier spark as it sports an alternator for electrical generation rather than the original dynamo. An aftermarket and far more modern A/C compressor has also been fitted and likely reduces the load on the engine.
Another update to note in the tidy engine bay is the change to a dual-channel brake master. That feeds a disc/drum setup that brings braking performance up to snuff. There are still a lot of old-school elements to enjoy here, including the three-on-the-tree manual transmission. The seller says the car could be converted to four-on-the-floor “if that’s your thing.” A later C-body posi rear axle helps keep everything in order.
Also old-school is the fantastic “Forward Look” body design. Chrysler, in the 1950s, was in dire straights financially, requiring a huge line of credit to get new models out the door. That still meant a good bit of sharing across car lines, and there’s a lot of similarity between Dodge and De Soto models of this era. Both, however, are handsome and well-balanced designs. A notable feature of this model is the faux four-headlight nose. Chrysler was worried that the smaller sealed beam lights wouldn’t be approved for use in the U.S. by the time the Dodge’s design was approved, so gave the cars a single light design with an inboard running light in partnership. In 1958, the nose would be redesigned to feature the four-light setup.
This Sierra looks to be in pretty solid shape behind those lights, with the seller claiming no appreciable rust or damage anywhere. The black paint is an older respray but looks decent in the pictures. American Racing mag wheels wearing fat, modern meats dress it up even further.
There’s more to like in the cabin. The gold vinyl and cloth upholstery is intact both front and rear, as are the carpeting and all door cards. This car has the optional dashboard crash pad and seatbelts, so it’s… safe? The A/C unit under the dash looks to be totally era-appropriate, and there’s something to the right of it that might be a tissue dispenser, but I’m not sure. Not so era appropriate is the volt meter on the left side of the dash. On automatic-equipped cars, that space is used for the push-button transmission controls. This being a column shift manual, that space was available and is used for the digital guage.
The seller notes this is not a show car, and in the pictures, we can see that the dash-mounted rear-view mirror is missing and that the flooring in the load area (sadly, no third row) is somewhat rough.
On the plus side, the underside shows a solid appearance and what looks like a new exhaust and rebuilt driveshaft. The torsion bar front/leaf-sprung rear suspension also looks to be enjoying new shocks and is dry as a bone. All in all, this appears to be a solid cruiser with well-considered updates. A clean title and reported 66K mileage makes it all the more attractive.
What might such a cool old Dodge like this be worth? The seller seems to think $25,000 is a fair asking, and it’s now incumbent upon you to say whether or not you concur. What do you think? Is this Hemi Dodge worth that $25,000 asking? Or is that too much green for this Red Ram?
Los Angeles, California, Craigslist, or go here if the ad disappears.
H/T to Dave Kyle for the hookup!
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