Ajit Chandrasekar’s 1954 Dodge Kingsway Custom is a symbol of sophistication

In 1929, several countries hit an economic trough. The crisis persisted throughout the 1930s. The United States came out of the woods in 1941, when droves of men were recruited for World War II duty. While the unemployment issue had been largely addressed, manufacturing companies in United States that catered to global markets, suffered from the after-effects. The Great Depression (1929-39) had forever altered consumers’ view of what was essential to happy living.

The Dodge Kingsway was born out of the expedient measures taken by the Chrysler Corporation during the difficult forties.

It appeared in 1946 as a disguised Plymouth and with a mission to resurrect Dodge. More precisely, it was expected to prop up Dodge’s sagging sales abroad.

To make it attractive, the Kingsway was not priced on par with the other Dodges. The strategy clicked and Chrysler continued with the Kingsway line even after it had weathered the crisis.

In many countries, the Kingsway became a synonym for sophistication.

Ajit Chandrasekar, director of Vasan Health Care, still treasures photos of a 1950s Dodge Kingsway driven by his grandfather. “Owning a Kingsway was a mark of success in those days,” says Ajit.

Not content with admiring a Kingsway in black and white, he got a 1954 Kingsway Custom three years ago. It was part of a batch meant for the Canadian and Indian markets (all the provinces in Canada adopted right-hand driving in the mid-1920s).

In a deteriorated condition, the car was handed over to a restorer in Bangalore. The meters and the trims were part of a caboodle of items Ajit sourced from the United States. The hallmark of the Custom is the Z-beading — on both sides, the set has been fixed perfectly. Getting on to the Internet and studying colour schemes for Kingsways, he decided on a red-and-cream two tone.

The great pains taken by the owner and restorer were justified when the car won the best restored car (in its category) and the overall best car titles at a recent rally conducted by Madras Heritage Motoring Club.

Ajit passes on the credit to his little daughter Dhiya Nachiar.

“I consider this her car. Otherwise a picky eater, she eats without a murmur when sitting in this Kingsway.”

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