The 1956 Dodge D-500 sported modest fins and revised two-toning.

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Dodge unveiled a host of new options in 1955, but the 1955-1956 Dodge D-500 was arguably the most powerful -- Dodge offered an extra-cost "Power Pack" for the hemi-four-barrel carb and dual exhausts adding 10 horses. With it, the hemi was officially (and clumsily) called the "super-powered Super Red Ram," but soon became known simply as the "D-500" option.

The Dodge D-500 returned for 1956 on a hemi stroked out to 315 cubic inches. Larger valves, mechanical lifters, reprofiled camshaft, and higher compression (9.25:1) gave it a mighty 260 horses, close to double the maximum power Dodge had offered just two years before. A two-barrel, 218-bhp version of the Dodge D-500 came standard on Royal and Custom Royal. Coronets retained the poly at a slightly more muscular 189 bhp.

Dodge's mild 1956 face-lift brought higher, finned rear fenders to all models, which now included V-8 Lancer four-door hardtops in each series, including the Dodge D-500. As on other Chrysler makes, control of the optional Powerflite automatic changed from the chromed corporate dashboard wand of 1955 to the soon-to-be-infamous pushbuttons.

Highland Park went more heavily into high-performance limited editions for 1956, issuing the new Plymouth Fury and DeSoto Adventurer to supplement the follow-up version of the hairy Chrysler 300. Little appreciated is the fact that Dodge had a similar special, the Golden Lancer. This was basically a Dodge D-500-equipped Custom Royal hardtop coupe with Sapphire White and Gold Gallant Saddle paint; gold-colored dash, windshield, and door moldings; and patterned white/gray/black upholstery. Production is unknown, even to Chrysler, but was doubtless minuscule.

Equally rare was "La Femme," a new-for-1955 trim package offering umbrella holder, makeup case, and a dazzling pink-and-white exterior in a patronizing nod to women buyers typical of the age. The 1956 La Femme kept most of milady's accessories, but the colors changed to Regal Orchid over Misty Orchid. Limited to the Custom Royal hardtop coupe -- and available with the Dodge D-500 option -- it sold fewer than 1,500 copies through 1956 (estimates range from 300 to 1,100), after which it was tastefully withdrawn.

Check out the specifications of the 1955-1956 Dodge D-500 on the next page.

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