By Mason Duffey
If you took a walk over to “The Sheds” where the restoration students house their projects, you might notice a thing or two about a lot of the cars. Many of the students’ projects are muscle cars and trucks, typically a Ford or a GM product. Every now then, you might just see a car that sticks out from the rest. That’s what I thought when I first saw Shane Fazzino’s 1949 Dodge coronet. It’s not often that you see classic Dodges of this age, most of the time they get overshadow by other more popular cars of the era (which is a real shame as they have some very cool features that shouldn’t go overlooked). In 1949, Dodge offered three different cars: the Wayfarer, Meadowbrook, and Coronet, being the most luxurious.
Shane found the car through an ad that led him to Pittsburgh, Kansas where he first saw the car. It had not been driven on the road since 1980. The car was unable to drive and couldn’t run on its own power, but Fazzino saw the chance to put it back on the road where it belongs. He bought the car, making it his first classic, and had it trailered back to McPherson. Less than twenty-four hours after getting the car into his garage he had the car running and driving. All it needed was a little tuning and some new parts. I was able to go on a ride with Fazzino that day, and that’s when I got to see the weirdest transmission I had heard of. The Coronet sports gyromatic transfluid drive or “semi-automatic transmission.” The transmission is like an automatic as you don’t need to shift between every gear, but you still need a clutch to start out and to shift from low to high range. This transmission shows how unique the not-so-popular-cars of the era are.
Shane has since stopped driving his 1993 Ford Explorer on a daily basis and has started driving his Dodge, giving up heat, A/C, radio, power windows, and nearly everything else standard on a modern car. While most people might consider this crazy, it drives the restoration students to be able to take a piece of history and bring it back to its former glory.