Dodge has been a high-ranking contributor to the world of classic cars for many decades now. Having several big names in the “classic” category (the Challenger, the Charger, a few spectacular racing models and the entire line of Plymouth beauties) Dodge is no stranger to the art of creating a classic.
The biggest demonstration of their talent, we believe, comes through the Dodge Dart. Created in 1960, the Dodge Dart was an instant hit. The first year of the Dart Pioneer offered drivers four separate models to choose from, the Economy Slant 6, the Economy Slant 6 TorqueFlite, the Red Ram V-8, and the Red Ram V-8 TorqueFlite.
The Early Models
The Economy Slant 6: This 4-door sedan was equipped with rear-wheel drive, a manual 3-speed transmission with an engine that gave up to 145 horsepower and 2800 lbs. of torque. This instant classic could reach speeds of up to 93 mph and had an acceleration of 0-60 in 15.7 seconds. The gas mileage on this guzzler was an average of 14.4 mpg.
The Economy Slant 6 TorqueFlite: The TorqueFlite model of the Slant 6 took it up a notch with a slightly more aerodynamic body style. This version of the first Dart could reach higher speeds and get there in a faster time.
The Red Ram V-8: This 4-door sedan also boasted RWD and a manual 3-speed transmission, but offered significantly greater horsepower (230) as well as much higher speeds. The Red Ram V-8 could reach speeds of 107 mph and could get there in 10.2 seconds. Gas mileage on this racer was only 11.2 mpg.
The Red Ram V-8 TorqueFlite: The TorqueFlite version of the Red Ram also boasted the same specs as the regular V-8, but it was fitted with a more racing-friendly body that allowed it to reach even greater speeds. The gas mileage on this beauty, however, was only a measly 10.9 mpg.
In the first year of the Dodge Dart, there were 306,603 cars sold, ranging in price between $2-3000, depending on the model.
Through The Years
Sales of the Dodge Dart increased dramatically through the 1960’s, and even continued to soar into the 1970’s, but the Dart didn’t last forever. After racing in a Trans-Am race in 1966, and getting a complete facelift for the start of a new decade (1970 brought the “Dart Swinger”, a 340-cube V-8, 198-cu engine that made it a sleek family sedan with a racing engine under the hood), the Dart had a few more great years, until Dodge outsold itself. In 1976, the Dart overlapped with the brand new Aspen, and was discontinued after the Aspen won the sales race.
Between 1960 and 1976, the Dodge Dart sold over 4.3 million cars, with well over 100 sub-models, many of which are still around in collectors’ garages and in auction houses today.
The Up & Comer
Dodge is doing something most car companies aren’t willing to do: it’s trying to make a comeback with a classic. 2013 witnessed the revamping of the original Dodge Dart. Dodge released this new car as a much more pared down version of the original Dart. This new compact base model offers front wheel drive, a 4-wheel ABS system, a 6-speed manual transmission with a 4-cylinder engine that boasts 25/36 gas mileage.
While the compact version isn’t a direct remake of the original, more a head-nod in its general direction, this Dart is an affordable, family-friendly car, just like the first one. With a starting price tag of only $16,990, buyers can choose from an array of options (like the GT or SXT, or even the limited edition Aero or Rallye versions) and get a Dart that is customized to meet their needs for a price that still won’t bust budgets.
Is Restoration Right for Me?
Just because the car didn’t cost much way back when doesn’t mean it isn’t worth protecting now! Depending on the upkeep or restoration jobs done on these classics, some models are bringing in an upwards of $75-80,000 at auctions and sales across the country!
If you are interested in purchasing a classic Dart and seeing what you can make out of it with a restoration job, many old body-styles can be purchased for just a few thousand dollars, and restoration jobs on these cars are making most collectors a good chunk of change when their job is done.
If you’d like an idea of what a Dodge Dart restoration project might look like, here’s the story of a Dart named “Emma”, here’s some specific information on restoring 1963-66 Darts, and if you visit YouTube, you can see thousands of examples of collectors who have undertaken restorations on different models of the classic Dart. We also love this story about the restoration of a 1969 Dart from Mopar Muscle Magazine.
Protecting Your Assets
We know that restoration is a huge undertaking, and it also bears a certain amount of risk with it. You can never be certain that damage won’t befall your car, or that it will be safe whether it’s in storage or out on the road.
One thing you can be certain of is that Classic Auto will protect you from extraneous costs. When you have us in your passenger seat with collector car insurance, we can protect your car from damages, and prevent you from spending a fortune to repair what you’ve already restored. Don’t ever drive without insurance, but if you’re restoring and showing classic cars like an original Dodge Dart, don’t ever drive without Classic Auto Insurance. We offer the most affordable rates and the best plans that can be customized to meet your needs as a driver and as a classic car owner. You’re taking on enough risk by restoring and auctioning classic cars; let us take on the risk of repairing damages and protecting your car. Give us a call today at 888-901-1338 for a free, instant quote and more information about our classic car insurance policies!
About the Author
Drew Yagodnik is Vice President of Classic Automobile Insurance Agency, Inc. Classic Automobile Insurance Agency has been protecting collector, classic and exotics since 1992.