1964 Dodge 880

From the rear, the apparent width of the 1964 Dodge 880 was enhanced by long horizontal taillights that wrapped around the ends of the quarter panels. By repositioning the lamps to just above the rear bumper, the car appeared lower, too.

Between the taillights on Custom Dodge 880s was a bright diecast ribbed panel (absent on the base Dodge 880 sedan) that visually tied the taillights together to form a car-wide horizontal band outlined by bright moldings.

The new decklid was wide and flat, its trailing surface angled forward to match the quarter ends and accented by a new circular center medallion. The broad horizontal surface was relieved by two narrow windsplits. Wagon back ends were unchanged, save for new rectangular wraparound taillights.

Up front was a new diecast grille, concave this time instead of convex. A horizontal slot filled by a thin bright bar bisected the grille. Above and below the slot, three-deep stacks of horizontal rectangles made up the grille texture.

Two small stand-up fratzogs on the fendertips replaced the central hood ornament from 1963. Parking and turn signal lamps reverted to clear lenses, but with amber bulbs. New wheel covers retained the weed-winder centers.

Sedans and four-door hardtops received the larger, higher backlight with thinner C-pillars last used on the 1962 New Yorker. Thanks to this resurrected rear window, total glass area on the Dodge 880 four-doors increased to 4,741 square inches from 4,044 square inches in 1962-1963.

Prior to 1965, the big Dodge never succumbed to the vision-restricting blind rear quarters that found their way onto most 1960s cars. Consequently, Dodge 880 drivers enjoyed virtually unrivaled all-round visibility. The new rear windows were tinted to provide sun protection to the necks of back-seat passengers.

The tooling bill for the 1964 Dodge 880 came to $3.4 million. The changes made the big Dodge look lower, wider, more contemporary, and more expensive. The new wide taillights and smoother sheetmetal also gave the Dodge 880 a solid, respectable look more appropriate to its price. Most importantly, any lingering Chrysler identity was emphatically erased.

Though the basic instrument panel was carried over, a simplified gauge cluster was fitted, replacing the exaggerated "ears" of the 1961 Polara panel. The black-faced speedometer was narrower, flanked at either end by large silver elements that enclosed the turn signal indicators. Minor gauges were relocated so as to allow room for a newly available clock.

The rearview mirror was moved from the dash to the windshield header except on wagons with the headliner-mounted rear-compartment air-conditioning option.

New seat fabrics, trim styles, and ribbed vinyl door-trim panels unique to each series looked more luxurious. Customers could select from cloth-and-vinyl or all-vinyl interiors in five colors, with red interiors available on Custom Dodge 880 models only.

In celebration of Dodge's 50th year, a new featured exterior color, a medium-gold metallic appropriately named "Anniversary Gold," was available with matching gold interiors. Thirteen exterior colors and 10 two-tone combos were offered.

Custom and base Dodge 880 steering wheels were new again, the two spokes now horizontal, with hubs lettered to proclaim "Dodge Golden Anniversary 1914-1964." A seven-position tilt steering wheel was a new option for cars with power steering.

Another interesting -- though likely rare -- new option for Dodge 880s equipped with the optional 383 V-8 was the new Chrysler-designed A-833 fully synchronized four-speed manual transmission with a floor-mounted Hurst shift linkage. Don't expect to find one with bucket seats; despite their growing popularity, the Dodge 880 never offered them.

Seemingly pleased with the appearance changes, customers responded by taking 31,760 cars, an increase of almost 3,500 from 1963. Again, Newport sales were seemingly unaffected as assemblies topped 85,000 units in 1964.

The three-year run of the Dodge 880 totaled 77,531 cars. This was an eminently respectable figure, considering that they were improvised cars, hastily conceived out of necessity and modified on a strictly catch-up basis.

Nevertheless, these were cars that Dodge dealers would not have sold had the big Dodge not existed. They also allowed Dodge to reenter the highway patrol police cruiser business in 1963-64 after sitting out 1962.

It must be noted, however, that in no single model year did the Dodge 880 exceed the 44,636 Polaras and Matadors built in 1960. But Chrysler did get its money's worth out of the tools. When the last Dodge 880 rolled out, it represented the final use of tooling that had originated for 1960, giving that basic bodyshell a five-year run.

In 1965, Chrysler finally extricated itself from the pit it had dug in 1962 and fielded a Dodge lineup with distinct products in compact, intermediate, and full-size iterations. For the full-sized cars, this meant an all-new C-body on a wheelbase of 121.5 inches.

Crisply styled under Engel's direction, they were marketed in Polara, Custom 880, and Monaco trim levels. The sales guys vacillated between carrying on the Custom 880 name or recasting it as the "Polara 880" (the name Chrysler Canada used on its equivalent model; for the record, the 1962-1964 Dodge 880 was never sold there).

In the end, they went with the familiar Custom 880 designator, but the final decision arrived so late -- May 26, 1964 -- that the tooling was delayed and the first cars came off the line with no series badging. The internal angst was all for naught, for in 1966, the senior Dodge was divided into Polara and Monaco series. The Cus­tom 880 name disappeared -- gone, and for the most part, forgotten.

While the 1962-1964 880 pleased its customers, it was no automotive milestone and survival rates are low. "The car that wasn't there" back then still isn't at most vintage-car shows now, which begs the question: Are Dodge 880s collectible?

That depends. If you want to show up at your next local cruise night in something different from all the 1957 Chevys, the 880 is your ride. As for rarity, the 1962 Custom 880 convertible takes the prize at 684 cars. Good luck finding one.

On the other hand, a 1964 Custom 880 wagon would give you the last of the four-door hardtop station wagons and the last year for pushbutton transmissions. If nothing else, given proven mechanicals like the 361/383 V-8s and "bulletproof" Torque­Flite, a Dodge 880 can still make a mighty fine daily driver.

Continue on to the next page to find the models, prices, and production of the 1962-1964 Dodge 880.

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