United States car sales slumped in 1958 due to a nationwide recession, but, on the heels of a successful 1957, Dodge rolled out an updated lineup. The division’s 1958 cars were longer, lower, wider, more colorful, and sported an abundance of chrome. Plus, Dodge’s model offerings consisted of the entry-level Coronet, the Royal, the Custom Royal, and a new, top-of-the-line Regal Lancer. Dodge described them as the “Swept-Wing” 1958s in all of its marketing brochures.
Phil Shaw, from Auburn, Nebraska, is a 64-year-old retired UPS driver and Mopar enthusiast of the first order. Phil was looking for a retirement project that spanned the 1957-’59 Dodges when he came across a 1958 Dodge for sale online. The owner was from Norway, the ad was confusing to read, and a gallery of low-quality photos made it difficult to determine the car’s overall condition.
“The owner told me he had purchased the car online, from a seller in Bradenton, Florida, and then had it shipped to a shop in Rosenberg, Texas, to begin the restoration,” Phil says. “But after some work had been done he halted the restoration. He found out a short time later that he was terminally ill with cancer and decided not to see the job through.”
At that point, the car had also been completely disassembled and media blasted, and the shop had performed some sheetmetal repair on the floorpans and trunk floor. Reluctantly, Phil decided to bid on the ’58, not sure exactly what to expect since he had not seen the car in person. He won the auction and purchased the car in January of 2011. No other potential buyers bid against him, which sent up another red flag.
“I picked the car up a few days later. All the window glass had been discarded, and all the parts were in boxes and not well identified,” Phil says. “I examined the bare body and saw that a lot of rust repair was needed around the back window, but the rest of the body seemed to be solid and in good shape.”