1969 Dodge Coronet R/T

After a big marketing push in '68, styling changes on the 1969 Dodge Coronet R/T were substantially more modest. The Coronet's visage was revised so that the grille-headlamps combination mimicked the delta taillight shape.

1969 Dodge Coronet R/T
Changes to the 1969 Dodge Coronet R/T
were mainly on the front and rear ends.

Lacking tooling money, however, for a new hood, Dodge stylists imaginatively accomplished their task by grafting a stamped metal skirt onto the forward edge of the carryover hood. Attached by concealed screws, the skirt narrowed the grille opening and then tapered upward at the ends to permit the headlights to sit in recessed delta-shaped bezels.

The joint between the hood and the skirt was scarcely noticeable, a tribute to unknown heroes in Chrysler's late-Sixties stamping and manufacturing operations. (Though very cleverly done, such a construction wouldn't pass muster in today's more exacting world of fit and finish.)

So, with all that, the delta theme was now carried out from front to back, right? Wrong! Stylists instead this year abandoned the delta taillight look on the Coronet 500 and R/T in favor of something more closely tied to the new taillights on the '69 Charger.

The recessed area above the bumper was filled with a bright-edged black panel that contained three slim horizontal rectangles. The left and right sections housed the taillamps. The middle rectangle, though not illuminated, contained red reflective material. (Then-design manager Diran Yazejian referred to this as the "cyclops" design, adding that it was a Richard Sias effort.) Certainly the new design was original, handsome, and bold, but did it say "Dodge?"

Side-marker lights changed again, this time to rectangles that were both illuminated and reflective, thus offering protection even with a burned-out bulb -- typical of the federal government's "belt and suspenders" approach to automotive safety.

Also new were twin faux scoops that were designed to nest into the existing stamped recesses in the rear quarter panel. This attractive but rarely seen option ($35.80) was available for the R/T and the Super Bee. Though of one-piece plastic construction, the sculpted body-color part gave the appearance of two parallel horizontal faired scoops floating out over the quarter panel.

The simulated air inlets at the scoops' leading edges were silver colored. If you squinted hard, the scoops looked like bloomers; one wag in the studio nicknamed them "Maggie's drawers."

The eggcrate grille of '68 was replaced by a more conventional stamped-aluminum horizontal linear texture, blacked out on Coronet R/Ts and Super Bees, and ornamented with appropriate em­blems. While the power-bulge hood remained standard, a new Ramcharger hood option featured twin forward-facing hood scoops that were fully functional.

The scoops forced air to the carburetor via expansive and elaborate plastic ductwork connected to a special air cleaner by a large rubber seal. Doors just below the hood scoops were activated by a switch on the dash, allowing the driver to control whether the engine received cool or warm air. This "engine fresh air induction system," as Dodge engineers termed it, came standard with the Hemi engine.

In '69, Dodge also offered special performance packages for the 440- and 426-cubic-inch engines. Track Pak included a heavy-duty four-speed transmission with Hurst linkage, a heavy-duty 9.75-inch Dana axle with a 3.54 ratio, Sure-Grip nonslip differential, 26-inch high-performance radiator with fan shroud, seven-blade torque-drive fan, and dual-breaker distributor. The Super Track Pak included all of the above plus power disc brakes and 15-inch cast-center road wheels.

Assemblies of Coronet R/Ts from the three plants that made 1969 B-body Dodges (Detroit Lynch Road, Los Ange­les, and St. Louis) fell to 6,955 vehicles, 437 of which were convertibles. Of them, 97 hardtops and 10 ragtops came with Hemis at $718 extra. Again, its stablemates were a large part of the R/T's decline.

Some 19,298 '69 Charger R/Ts were sold, and production of Super Bees leapt to 26,125, aided on the style front by the addition of a popular hardtop and on the performance front by a new 440 "Six Pack" engine package. Meanwhile, Plym­outh GTX production declined slightly to 15,010 units, while demand for the up­start Road Runner zoomed to 82,109 cars.

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