It’s no secret that Jay Leno is one of the most famous car guys in the world. He has been collecting, restoring and now featuring cars on his show and in his life for a long time. He’s shown off everything you can think of but one of his favorite cars is one that doesn’t seem like it would be a favorite of someone who knows cars the way he does. The fact that Jay loves this car shows how much he knows about cars and what they have to offer to those who can love what they drive.
The car Jay loves so much is a 1966 Dodge Coronet. This impressive car doesn’t look flashy at all. Its painted in a dark green, it doesn’t have a hood scoop or the racing stripes that you’d associate with a muscle car, but it’s one of his favorites. This is the car that shows off on the road in a way that you might not expect and with the power that is seriously surprising, unless you know the story behind what made this version of the Coronet so special.
In the 1960s Dodge had created the Hemi engine and wanted to put them on the racing circuits, but couldn’t because they had to sell the engine in a street car first. With this rule in place, Dodge went about creating a higher powered version of the Coronet that would house this engine making it the Hellcat of its day. The Hemi 426 engine under the hood of the Coronet was capable of producing 4256 horsepower but many who knew about this engine and this car thought it actually performed at a level that was much closer to the 500 mark.
This powerful engine inside the Coronet is attached to a three-speed Torqueflite automatic transmission giving it the shifting that felt better than a four-speed of the time. There were only 732 of these Coronet models made in 1966 and the sole purpose of them was to help Dodge put the Hemi engine into race cars on the track. The mundane looks of the car and the fact that Dodge only offered a ninety day warranty on this particular model kept this version of the Coronet from being ordered in greater numbers, but it certainly should have been ordered in droves if more knew what this brute was packing.
Because the Hemi 426 Coronet was a muscle car that you could love it wasn’t built to go around corners at any speed at all. The entire brake system is drum only and the steering is standard, not power steering at all. This is a car that you have to work to take around a turn, but if you have a long straightaway you can have a lot of fun in this car in order to show off just how powerful and how fast this car was for the time it was built.
As we’ve loved in the past, Jay Leno will go over every aspect of the story of the car that’s one of his favorites in his garage. This car was one that was faster than the police cruisers of the time and it was made to be a racing machine on the road. This amazing car is a gorgeous throwback to what Dodge built in the 1960s and what they had to do in order to get some engines and cars on the race tracks around the country. Take a look at this video and enjoy Jay showing off this gorgeous car that he loves.