1968 Dodge Coronet: 375-Horsepower Convertible
Just 519 convertible Dodge Coronet R/T models were built to American specifications in the 1968 model year. Automatic transmissions were in 431 of the cars, while the remaining 88 were equipped with four-speed manual transmissions. Even more rare was the floor-mounted console between the bucket seats and the Rallye instrument package.
One of these rare musclecars left the St. Louis assembly plant wearing a coat of bright blue paint with white “bee” stripes stretched across the rear fenders and the width of the trunk lid.
The initial part of the vehicle identification number was WS27L8G. Deciphering the VIN reveals: W designates Dodge “B” body; S=Special; 27=Convertible; L=440 V-8, four-barrel carburetor, high performance; 8=1968 model; G=St. Louis, Mo., assembly plant. The handsome convertible, with a white top and white interior, was shipped to a dealership in New York. There, the window sticker indicated a base price of $3,613.
Meanwhile, a young Kurt Ugone found a red 1968 Dodge Coronet R/T coupe on a dealer lot. The mere fact that he didn’t possess a driver’s license wasn’t enough to dissuade the teen. His father, however, had different thoughts on the matter.
“He probably saved me from myself,” Ugone now acknowledges. The combination of a novice driver and a 375-horsepower car can be a recipe for disaster.
Nevertheless, Ugone never forgot the Dodge R/T that got away. Years later he saw the above-mentioned bright-blue 1968 Coronet R/T convertible with a white top and a white interior advertised for sale. It had undergone a complete restoration, including replacing both quarter panels. Pictures were sent, a brief negotiating session passed, and Ugone bought the car. Only after the 17.25-foot-long car had been trucked home, did Ugone discover that the odometer registered about 89,000 miles.
Following a complete examination, he decided that his Dodge had received a very thorough restoration. Ugone, owner of a body shop, had not been concerned about the bodywork because he could correct any defects himself. Happily, there was none to correct. “It’s a pretty car,” he says admiringly.
Keeping the 440-cubic-inch engine operating properly requires 17 quarts of coolant and 5 quarts of oil. Even with its 19-gallon gasoline tank, Ugone says, “You don’t go far.”
The 6-foot-wide musclecar rides on a 117-inch wheelbase. With some of the rear-seat passenger space consumed by hinges for the convertible top, the rear seat still measures 4 feet in width.
Ugone was pleased to find his Dodge loaded with goodies, including red-line tires, power brakes, power steering, right-side mirror, wheelwell molding, rubber bumper guards, AM/8-track sound system, fender-top signal indicators, and chrome Magnum 500 wheels. As a bonus, all of the 1968 Dodges had as standard equipment front-door wing vents.
“It does get driven,” Ugone says, “with a Dana rear axle.” He goes on to say, “With the enormous V-8 engine occupying most of the engine compartment, restricting peripheral space, it takes a football field to turn it around.”