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Dodging Around

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by Steve Temple  More from Author

Detouring to a ’35 Dodge Rod

Originally what Ron Walter had in mind was finding a Corvette. Somehow the best-laid plans can be led astray, though, and end up at a totally different destination. In this case a ’35 Dodge street rod. But we digress—as did Walter. It all started back in the Spring of 1958, Walter was scrounging around the greater Portland area, checking out a variety of ‘Vettes, when he came upon a 315 Hemi-powered D500 that turned his dream on a dime. After sampling this lively and luscious ride, he ended up getting a 1956 Chrysler 300B, the 354 Hemi-powered cousin to the D500.

That detour led to an array of other Pentastar products. Today, Ron revisits his fond memories of the Fifties, when Chrysler dominated the NASCAR and Drag Race scene, by running a ’55 Belvedere on the strip. He says the car keeps pulling until hitting 170 mph, and stills feel planted to the earth. “So, I get to relive my 21st birthday most every weekend.” he smiles.

Ron isn’t trapped in the “Forward Look” of the Eisenhower era, though. In 1971, Ron bought himself a Western Sport Special Challenger in Plum Crazy Purple. Until last year, he still owned a 1970 Challenger R/T, also purple. The compelling mix of superior handling, gobs of torque, and in-your-face styling is an experience he hopes to enjoy again in the ’08 Challenger SRT-8. “Think they’ll bring back Plum-Crazy?” Ron asks with a hopeful gleam in his eye. Even if they don’t, he’s on the waiting list.

Digging deeper, the seeds of Ron’s Pentastar preoccupation really began with a used ’35 Dodge four-door, slant-back sedan that was the family car when Ron was just a small boy. “I remember my dad was a Ford and Chevy man, but liked the fact that Dodge offered hydraulic brakes in ’35 when no one else did.”

Ron was looking for a ’35 coupe when he found this ’35 two-door sedan locally. True, it would have been easier to buy a ’32 Ford fiberglass reproduction body with a modern, custom-fabricated frame, but Ron didn’t want to drive a cookie-cutter car. This really was a labor of love, everything made by hand, from the Kugel stainless-steel front suspension to the Mopar 8.75 rearend. A Mopar 400hp 440 crate motor burbles under the hood through Sanderson Block Hugger headers.

Inside the cabin, gold-trimmed Classic Instruments grace the dash, which is also fitted with Vintage Air climate control. Other modern custom touches include Specialty power windows and a B&M shifter for the Dodge 518 overdrive tranny. On the other hand, the narrow windows are a factory original design, and already have that “chopped” look so many hot rodders spend hours trying to recreate.

This ride is no trailer queen either. Ron and his wife, Lou, have clocked more than 14,000 miles on open road in this one-of-kind creation. A veteran of the Silver State Classic, The Pony Express 130, the Bonneville 100, and the Gambler’s Twin 50 open road races, the car is capable of holding the road at more than 110 mph on a sustained basis, a testament to both Ron’s building prowess and Dodge’s engineering excellence. Looking back on it, Ron became a lifelong Dodge man because he feels they are well engineered and independently styled.

For some odd reason, a lot of street rodders aren’t aware of this fact. “No matter where we go, I’ve never seen another ’35 Dodge two-door sedan street rod,” Ron notes. But it’s not for lack of interest. Whenever Ron taps the brakes or flicks the turn signal, the Pentastar-shaped taillights gleam, and people sit up and take notice of his rod’s distinctive lines and Black Cherry Chrysler color. And to think it all started from taking the road less traveled…

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