There are certain cars that make winning look easy: as if it didn't take a lot of effort to make it look so good, or make so much power. This 1965 Dodge Coronet is one of those cars, thanks to a super slick paint job and a nicely disguised engine under the hood. While it looks like a show car and has all the right bells and whistles, this Coronet is packing a secret under the hood and actually has a pretty serious history on the drag strip. The car belongs to Ringgold, Georgia resident, Ken Meredith, a lifelong Mopar guy who learned the trade from his father Kenneth.
Ken has been fooling with Mopars for decades, and he has a day job as store manager for Byrd's Automotive, a Sikkens paint supplier. When he's not selling paint supplies to local body shops, he's in his own shop, wrenching on project cars. His background in bodywork and paint means that all of his projects get massaged and treated to a killer paint job, but he didn't stop with a slick paint job on this Coronet. Since the car had spent a great deal of its life on the drag strip, Ken wanted to give it a few more horsepower than the car's original 273ci engine could provide.
In 2005, Ken bought the car from L.C. Bigham, who has been drag racing for as long as Ken has been alive. L.C. is the master of a class known as "footbrake", which is an sportsman bracket racing class that doesn't allow a transbrake or any type of delay box or electronics. It was said that L.C. won more than $40,000 with this particular car, which is a fraction of his total winnings in his ongoing career. The car never had a radical engine or suspension, and it was surprisingly well preserved, compared to most cars that are subject to the drag racing lifestyle. The weekends of racing action was the best possible treatment for this Coronet, and Ken admits that it was one of the most solid cars that he's built through the years.
Ken spent a couple years of evenings and weekends working to revamp this Mopar into something that would stand out at a car show, while also looking right at home at a test and tune session at Brainerd Optimist Drag Strip. With a 493ci big block Mopar under the hood, and plenty of supporting parts and pieces, Ken's Coronet is ready for action, and will likely surprise a few folks when those two four-barrel carburetors are opened up. The car is certainly a sanitary sleeper, and serves as a rolling memorial for Ken's late brother, Rick, and father Kenneth, who were both responsible for adding fuel to this Mopar guy's fire.
Who: Ken Meredith
What: 1965 Dodge Coronet 440
Where: Ringgold, Georgia
Transmission: Backing the stroked big block is a 727 TorqueFlite automatic, built by local drag racer Melvin Croft. Ken matched the camshaft power band with a loose torque converter that stalls to 4,400 rpm before transferring the power. Ken still uses the stock column shifter to operate the three-speed automatic.
Rearend: Out back is a Dana 60 rear end built by Hudlow Axle and packed with a Sure Grip differential and 4.10:1 gears.
Suspension: Ken focused most of his effort on the killer engine, so the suspension, steering and brakes got a basic rebuild. The only modification underneath is a pair of Super Stock leaf springs, which help plant the horsepower to the ground.
Wheels/Tires: The Coronet rolls on a nostalgic tire and wheel combo that Ken picked up from Coker Tire. The BFGoodrich Radial T/A tires are sized at 225/70R15 and 275/60R15, matched up to 15x7- and 15x8-inch Rocket Fuel wheels.
Paint/Body: The paint and bodywork was a team effort, with help coming from Henry Johns and NuNu Lowry. Ken was blown away with solid and straight panels, considering this car's drag racing history. He laid down a few coats of Sikkens base coat/clear coat Euro Jet Black paint after massaging the body to perfection, then rubbed on it even more to polish the fresh finish.
Interior: Inside, it's a pretty simple setup, with a bench seat, a big steering wheel and lots of red material. Ken ordered new carpet and door panels from Legendary Interiors, while Kyle Wilson at Fully Loaded Interiors stitched new covers for the seats. The dash and trim is immaculate, another rarity with an ex-drag car. Ken restored the interior with all original components, and put the same amount of effort into the trunk, with superb details throughout.