Hardtop Hauler: 1961 Dodge Polara Station Wagon – Sold?

by | Apr 2022 | Craigslist ClassiFINDS, Wagon Wednesday

April 15, 2022, Update – GuysWithRides and the Internet never forget a featured ride.  We don’t come across very many early 1960s vintage Dodge Polara wagons. When we spotted this black-over-red 1961 example near Seattle, it looked eerily familiar to a similar car we featured last summer. Originally located practically down the street from our office in Central Jersey, in the six months since we last featured this car, it made its way cross country, albeit by car hauler as this Polara is still labeled a project car.

July 20, 2021 Update – we confirmed the seller of this “Classifind” deleted their listing, so we’re now able to call this one “SOLD!” While this one got away, please reach out either by email or call us directly if you’d like to be informed when we come across something similar.

Follow Guys With Rides long enough and you’ll learn we rarely miss a chance to feature a classic four-door hardtop.  While those features typically happen on Malaise Monday or Free For All Friday, rare is the opportunity for us to feature a pillarless four-door hardtop station wagon such has the 1961 Dodge Polara originally listed in June 2021 on Craigslist just one town over from us in Whitehouse Station, New Jersey. A project car featuring a completely redone interior, the private seller started with an asking price of $11,500. Comparing that price against the Collector Car Market Review Online Tool confirms the private seller has their Polara priced between this guide’s #4 “Fair” estimate of $9,825 and its #3 “Good” appraisal of $18,950.

Dodge launched the Polara line for 1960 as the Chrysler Division’s top full-size trim level and continued through 1961 before being upstaged oddly by the 880 designation the following model year.  The name Polara is a reference to the Polaris star, in a marketing attempt to appeal to the excitement surrounding the Space Race during the early 1960s.

In 1961, Dodge dropped the Matador, leaving the Polara as the sole “senior” Dodge model. Darts on the shorter wheelbase continued. For 1961, Exner’s styling department reversed the car’s fins, making them taller as they flowed toward the rear window. As the fins sloped towards the rear of the car, they cut slightly towards the center (to allow the single tail light housing on each side) of the rear of the vehicle, wrapping downward and then back along the side fender to form a C-shaped line accentuated in chrome. The overall effect made the rear of the car seem to “pucker” from the angles the design created. The massive front bumper treatments that had been a Dodge hallmark since 1957 were replaced with a simple bar design, above which was a massive concave grille shared with the Dodge Dart.

The 1961 styling overhaul of the Dodge line-up was different from anything else on the US market at that time (save the 1961 Plymouth, and consumers turned away from the restyle. Sales of full-size Dodges plunged to their lowest levels since the firm’s founding in 1914, with only 14,032 units produced in the United States. For the second straight year, the make was carried by the Dart which saw sales of 142,000 units for the year. Total Dodge sales for 1961 were down 53% compared to 1960, dropping the make from sixth in the American market to ninth place.

It’s odd to come across a project car where the interior has received a refresh before the mechanicals or exterior. Based upon the seller’s description below, the car benefits from a later 440 cubic inch V8 install, so if you can haul this back to your garage and get it running, you’ll have a great example of a four-door hardtop styling in a rare station wagon body style.

Here’s the seller’s description:

“1961 Dodge Polara wagon, very rare, 4 dr hardtop wagon, selling off some of my wagon collection, this price is before I get into working on this car. This 1961 Dodge wagon, is a hardtop wagon with no post, it has ps, pb, and an automatic transmission. I checked the motor today, and it is a 440, from a later model Chrysler. This Dodge has been treated to a complete new interior in the last couple of years, the inside is very nice. The body is super solid, and there is very little rust. I have all of the trim that is missing in the pictures, and I have an extra nose with the headlight parts, and a correct antenna, I am missing the front parking light sockets, and the rear license plate lights at this time. I may have them in storage I have not been able to locate them.
Solid frame, and floors, and should run with little effort, if I continue to work on this wagon the price will go up, it’s currently at my home in Jersey, and soon to be moved to Pennsylvania storage, has a good Pa title.
This car needs restoration, or do some minor things and use it as is. Serious only,”

Restore or Drive As is: what would you do with this Polara Hardtop?  Comment below and let us know!

  1. JImmyinTEXAS

    Looks like an honest car. Initial investment and a few thousand could make a very nice DD and evoke some envy at any cars and coffee.

    • Michael C McAllister

      My shop ended up with this car and the parts car they sold with it. Not sure what we are going to do with this. I might get it running and driving.

      • Guys with Rides

        Michael, congrats on the purchase and letting us know. Please feel free to send us pictures to email@guyswithrides.com to share the progress as you bring this rare wagon back to being road worthy once again.

  2. Joe

    The 61 Dodge Polara and Darts are so weird looking, yet, so cool! I love’em. I own one too


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