In the 1950s, it was common for American carmakers to sell unique models in Canada. Pontiac, for instance, had a long list of Canada-exclusive cars that included the Laurentian, Pathfinder, Strato-Chief, and Parisienne. All these cars were mainly Chevrolets “dressed” in Pontiac bodies. Chrysler did something similar by re-bodying specific Plymouth models as Dodges. These are known as “Plodges” in Canada.
Chrysler’s decision to swap parts between its Plymouth and Dodge cars for export up North dates back to the early 1950s. It all started with the Regent, basically a Plymouth Cranbrook, and the Crusader, based on the Cambridge. The Dodge Mayfair joined in 1953 as Canada’s equivalent of the Plymouth Belvedere. Both the Regent and the Mayfair remained in production until 1959, while the Crusader was discontinued in 1958. I’m here to talk about the latter.
Originally based on the Plymouth Cambridge, the Crusader was switched to a rebadged version of the Plaza in 1954. It got the same “Forward Look” makeover by Virgil Exner in 1955, but sales remained low compared to its American siblings. In 1957, for instance, Dodge Canada sold only 8,418 Crusaders. Only 2,101 of these cars were fitted with V8 engines, while the remaining 6,317 examples left the assembly line with inline-six mills. All told, the 1957 Crusader is one of the rarest Dodges from the 1950s.
But why am I talking about the 1957 model year? Well, that’s quite simple: someone found and rescued what might just be the last 1957 Crusader two-door sedan in existence. And I say “might” because it’s a piece of info that comes from the owner, and I’m unable to verify it. On the flip side, all the 1957 two-door Dodges I documented online were Regents and Custom Royals, so the owner may be onto something.
The exact number of two-door sedans built remains a mystery without a detailed breakdown based on body style. But based on production trends of the era, it’s safe to say that fewer than 15% of 1957 Crusaders were ordered in this configuration. This means fewer than 1,300 cars. If we narrow it down to inline-six models like the one we see here, we’re looking at fewer than 950 units. Granted, that’s still a lot to have just one left standing, but it’s not impossible since many of them may still be “buried” in scrapyards.
Anyway, our host discovered this once-gorgeous “Forward Look” car in a junkyard back in 2009. It had been sitting for many years, showing rust spots, missing a few parts, and sitting on the ground. It looked like the kind of car many owners would send to the crusher. But not our host, who decided to rescue it and prepare it for restoration.
While in bad shape inside and out, the Crusader still rocks its original mill under the hood. The unit in question is a 230-cubic-inch (3.8-liter) inline-six and mates to a three-speed on-the-column shifter. Sure, these engines are particularly desirable or powerful at 132 horsepower, but at least they’re easy to work with when they’re stuck.
Come 2023, and the “Plodge” is still waiting to get back on the road, but the owner promises he will bring it back to life soon. If you’re a fan of Canadian Mopars, you’ll definitely love this one, so hit the play button below to check it out.