The combination of little car, big (and tunable) engine, and low price compared to its competition was a winning formula back in the day. Half a century later, Darts are still one of the more tempting values in the wide world of classic American muscle. Read the full article on Hagerty.com:
Not a high-performance vehicle by any stretch of the imagination, the Dodge Dart with the Slant 6 engine is indestructible and will go forever! The engine will keep running, while the body around it rots away. Thank you for the great article!!!
Glenn in the Bronx, New York.
I can tell you that a big-block A-body of this era really isn't hard to park with manual steering. Had a '72 Duster with a BB transplant (same platform as the 67-up Dart) and it was no big deal. Decades ago, I had a '69 Dart, your basic 318 car, and it was a sweetheart; a couple I had with Slant 6s reminded me of the VW Beetle in Woody Allen's "Sleeper", haha.
Great article! I have owned a 1971 Dart Swinger for about 18 years now and still love it like the day I bought it. Broadcast sheet was written across it with "crayon" or whatever they used stating "executive lease car". Built with 318, AC, 8 3/4 rear, rimblow steering wheel. White with green vinyl top and green interior. The 318 has been gone for years and now has a warmed over 360 and I need to get AC back in it.
As I recall, the Dart was not something you were proud to drive to High School in the 70’s. But for those who did, it was better than riding the cheese loaf. And like all sedans, they had back seats where fantasies might be realized. Maybe.
It was much easier to realize that teenage fantasy in the back seat of a Dart or Valiant than it was in the back of a Nova or a Mustang. (When is the last time you actually sat in the back seat of a Mach 1?) The early fastback Barracudas were even better - with the fold-down rear seat and all that glass to look up at the stars through...
I can still fit comfortably in the back of a Dart Swinger. That's not true of many of the cars my friends and I drove when we were teens and interested in back seat gymnastics.
Too funny. I had (and now have again) a Mach 1, and the fold-down rear seat worked pretty well for extra-curricular activities. Though I wouldn't attempt the same moves 50 years later...
Timely article on the Dart! I'm helping my friend with his street heater Dodge project. He bought a 1974 one-owner example a couple of years ago for his granddaughter, but she didn't want it. So, he reverted back to his drag racing roots and yanked the 318 out and we are putting the final touches on a twin turbo 408. A narrowed 8-3/4 with 35 spline axles is in the rear and a reverse shift full manual T/F with a 4500 stall converter is in the middle. He is setting his sights on the local youths with their very loud Mustangs.
Interesting, I was more into the Duster, the 71 duster to be exact, I once dated a girl with a Duster just so I could ride in it and drive it. The relationship was brief and the only thing more disappointing than dating a girl because of her car was the car itself. My biggest lesson was don't chase a car, it will only lead to disappointment.
Our 1975 Dodge Dart was such an amazingly bad piece of garbage that it couldn't make it home from the dealership 2.5 miles away without a tow. The rest of its life it was towed and repaired regularly. It wouldn't start in the rain. It rusted away. The torsion bars literally rotted and snapped while driving one day. That experience is pretty much the reason I've never bought an american car since.
I had a 6 Dart Station wagon that ran great, was vowed economical and had to be with 3 kids taking most of the family monies. Gave to wife on divorce and she drove for years. great car! Not alot of fancy things to go wrong. Wish there was one like it to buy today at 85 years of age.
Great article, well written and fun to read.
I hope some day you can do a similar article on the early 1960 to 66 Darts and Valiants.
Like the Hyper-Pak slant six Valiants that dominated Daytona Beach in 1960.
Or the 273 Magnum (4 bbl solid lifter) V8, 4 speed Darts in 1965.
Or the drag strip ready "D-stock Darts" (the name says it all).
It would take some extra research, but cool 60s stuff from Mopar. ... Gary
A good friend of mine had a older Dart with the "leaning tower of power" slant 6 that he couldn't kill. With over 200k miles on it, he ran drain oil in it and beat the s*** out of it. Finally ran into a bridge abutment to end it's days!
I have had a 69 Superbee 383 auto, and I have had a 70 Road Runner 383 4 speed. I sold both of those and have since owned a 1969 Swinger 340, and now drive around a 1970 swinger 6 cylinder that now has a 440. Its is just a whole lot more fun working on the Dart knowing it pedestrian beginnings. For its size you get more return with the improvements over B body cars.
Dad bought Mom a brand new ‘67 Dart 2-door, white w/red vinyl bench seats and the 225 slant 6. Only options were the Torqueflite and an AM radio. Two years later, when I turned 16, I found two chrome exhaust finishers from a wrecked Roadrunner and added these to the options list (bolted one to the chassis beneath the bumper on the right rear). Caught a few double-takes on the street! Mom didn’t seem to mind. When she approved my adding a cassette deck in the glovebox, the Dart became my go-to weekend cruiser and date mobile (PLEASE may I take the Dart?!?) through high school. Even got to take it to college for a semester before I was able to scrape together enough to buy my own first car. LOTS of memories ... all good.
Mt friends and I shared a late 60s six banger Dart as desperation transportation post high school. Whoever wrecked their "good" car was heir apparent. It had an upright vacuum cleaner housed in the back seat behind the driver, the cord of which was used to secure the driver's door. Strange days. Didn't cost anything to drive and was worth every penny. Couldn't be killed.
Had a '74 winter beater with the slant 6 in college in the 80's that I bought for $300. One time while driving over some railroad tracks, the rear springs poped through the floor. Pulled over and made the mistake of opening the trunk and the springs poped up even more. Luckily I was with a friend, and as he lifted up the rear end I was able to close the trunk. Drove it over to a friends house who's dad was Mr. fix-it, told me to go to the dump and get a piece of 3/4" steel. Somewhere there was enough un-rotted metal in that trunk/frame that he was able to weld the springs to. Sat a little low in the back and though my friends dad did good work, I decided to get rid of it. Loaded up the trunk with some extra tires I got with it and sold it for $300. Saw it on the road a year latter still sittin' low. The thing ran great.
Had exactly the same experience with a Dart I got from my mom -- and made the same mistake! My 5 yr old daughter was with me and said "Dad, is that supposed to happen ?" My reply, " I don't think so ! Time to call AAA."
I bought a 1967 Dodge Dart GT in late 1967. It had a 273 high performance engine, 4 on the floor, "positrac" differential. My wife and I got married in January 1968. It was our honeymoon car. I put 4" shackles on the rear springs and welded on exhaust dumps. Sounded nice. I was sent to Vietnam and when I returned home, I called my wife from an airport and asked her to open the exhaust dumps. After we got resettled, we had the car for awhile. One time I raced a friend in his Chevy 396. He beat me by one car length. I did change the clutch and later the distributor. Other than that, I didn't have to do anything major. 52 years later, we kind of wish we still had it. But life goes on and we had to get a more practical vehicle. By the way, it was a gold color. If you have one, take care of it and enjoy it as long as you can.
My dad always bought Dodge Darts and Swingers in the 1960's and '70's. He was a photographer and would bring his largest camera case with tripod to car dealers and try "sportier" cars like those Saab's that resembled armadillos. But his camera bags never fit while these Darts had enormous trunks and he'd always come home with one. They cost about two to three grand during the '70's.
I have a 67 GT bucket seat convertible that I cloned into a 68 GTS B-5 blue with white top and int. warmed over 340 added disc brakes , sure grip, subframe connectors .I love this car it will get down the road and it sounds awesome .
Have a ‘66 Dart wagon with a 273-2 and factory ac. Actually very quick and a right little car. First new car a ‘73 Duster 225 /3 spd hurst floor shift w/ AC and crank sun roof. Great fun car. ‘75 Swinger with 225 was down to only 100 hp and a no speed boat with ac. Still another great Dart.
My wife and I have a fully customized 68 Dart GT with the slant 6 with headers and a Holley four barrel. I'd like to replace the slant 6 with a 340. Every time we go to a car show people ask is that the motor that came in the car and I tell them yes and my thoughts on putting a 340 in it, everyone says don't do that. Keep it with the slant 6. Always hard to fight that feeling to have a V8 even though I've had some big blocks with a 671 Blower. Enjoyed reading all this history on the DART Thanks
I have a '65 Dart GT in the shop. I'm upgrading from the Slat-6 to a 318 to make what I think Mopar SHOULD have made to compete with the Mustang and later, the Camaro. The '65 is unusual since it has the wide, boxy front end of the late '60/early 70's style, but the taillights are reminiscent of jet engine exhaust style of the late '50's/early 60's.
I have a 1967 4-door Dart 270 Custom, and it is a 50+ year old survivor car all the way down to the original paint and its Certicard. It has the original 225 Slant Six and A-904 transmission with 98k miles on the clock. I’ve added front disc brakes, a Clifford Performance intake with an Edelbrock 500 cfm carb, and a set of Clifford Performance headers leading to true 2.5” dual exhaust. It is quite spirited for a Slant and is a true example of a rolling time capsule. Happy motoring, friends...
My older brother got a new 1970 Dart Swinger 340 while in college. Red with black bucket seats and white bumble bee stripe. When he got out of college, it was handed down to me as my first car at 16. Probably not the best first car as it was too fast for a 16 year old. I had many a street race where I beat corvettes and 383 roadrunners. I got rid of it in college when the gas crunch hit. I wish I had kept it. It did inspire a lifetime of performance car purchases. Randy
Love my Teal & Gray 63 Dart GT convertible. Slant six, dual single Holley's and split exhaust manifold. 17" American mags and front disk brakes. So many people ask "how do you shift it?" Not to many push-button shifts still around today.
DanM Tacoma, WA
Excellent article of the 4 cars that were “kicked to the curb”! Another well written and historically accurate article was on the “Dodge Dart”... Keep up the great articles.
Evan M Maza
Funny that I heard someone mention torsion bars that rotted away and snapped. Our '71 Duster still has the originals and they are fine. Which ocean did the one with the "snapped torsion bars from rust" get driven through? Just curious.