By on July 3, 2012

After seeing this 1968 Plymouth Valiant a couple of months back, I kept my eyes open for an example of the Valiant’s Dodge sibling languishing in one of Denver’s self-serve wrecking yards. Last week: pay dirt!
I think the Dart became a better-looking car for the 1967 model year, shedding most of the late-50s/early-60s styling influence still visible in the ’66, but the basic formula was the same: an affordable compact car that was more reliable than just about all of its competition.
Here’s the main reason that Darts and Valiants lasted so long. Even buyers that opted for the more powerful 273-cubic-inch V8 got an engine that was impressively hard to kill (I’m 99% certain that the great big “Poly 318″ engine wasn’t an option in the cramped engine compartments of ’66 A-Body Chryslers, but you Mopar zealots out there are encouraged to fill in the obsessive details of that story).
So, another old Dart gets used up and crushed. Plenty of them are still around, but most are two-doors with V8s these days.

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31 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1966 Dodge Dart...”


  • avatar
    skor

    Years ago Hot Rod Magazine did a feature article about the Slant-6, it was titled, Slant-6: The Thing That Wouldn’t Die. While the Slant-6 was the strongest of the North American car makers in-line 6 engines, all those engines, regardless of the maker, were pretty bullet proof. It’s a shame they were never properly developed, since Americans always thought of the in-line 6 as a cheap economy engine.

    • 0 avatar

      If only Chrysler had sold the (Detroit-developed) Australian-market Hemi-6 in North America.

      • 0 avatar
        skor

        If only Ford had sold the Oz Barra I-6 developed in Oz from the Ford North American 144/170/200 series. Know what, probably wouldn’t have made a difference. Americans were in love with the V-8. Today the I-6 wouldn’t work in most transverse applications, so I’m afraid it’s as dead as the dodo now.

        Video of a Ford Oz I-6, 4 liter producing 1000HP.

        Go to YouTube and search “Ford inline 6 1000 hp”

      • 0 avatar
        nikita

        Dodge was putting the 225 in full size trucks. Ford 240 and Chevy 250 sixes were used both in trucks and big passenger cars (mostly taxis) as well. Moparman must be right that the lower end on the 225 was overbuilt so that it did hold up ok against the bigger sixes of the competition.

        Didnt the 318 Poly last until ’67? Grandpa had one in his ’65 Belvedere, but our ’69 A-108 Sportsman had an LA 318. The LA V-8 barely fit in the van “doghouse”. No way a Poly would ever fit.

    • 0 avatar
      nikita

      Pontiac tried with the OHC version of the GM 230ci six in the mid ’60′s. The problem was that a small V-8 simply performed better on the same amount of gas. With only four main bearings, Im not sure the Chrysler six was the strongest, unless they meant its hp/ci was better than Ford or Chevy, due to intake manifold design. The slant six was a magnificent packaging job for the Valiant and a long overdue replacement for the flathead. Later, in light trucks, it was outclassed by GM and Ford big sixes.

      • 0 avatar
        skor

        Yes, the truck I-6 engines were different beasts all together. The Slant-6 was the best of the passenger car engines. The Ford 300 I-6 truck mill was legend….it was produced up to the 1990s.

        BTW, the I-6 offers something the V-8 doesn’t, theI-6 is a naturally balanced engine(so is the V-12), very smooth and will produce ass-loads of torque at very low rpm.

      • 0 avatar
        Moparman426W

        A 7 main bearing design makes for a smoother running engine with an inline 6. However a 4 main design is stronger, given adequate journal size due to alot less twist and turns. The slant 6 used the same size mains as the RB/hemi engines, and they were wide, resulting in good surface area. The slant 6 crank was also forged through mid 76.
        The main thing that mde the slant 6 so rugged was the excessive amount of beef in the lower end of the block, about 3x the amount of other sixes. This was because the original plan for the slant 6 was for them to all be made of aluminum. When production first started there was a supply problem with the reynolds alumiunum company, so most slant sixes were made of cast iron and a few thousand aluminum engines were produced each year for the first 3-4 years. The aluminum version used a special antifreeze that required a flush and replacement every year. Most owners failed to do that and it would cause the deck surface to erode between the bores, and Chrysler ended up replacing alot of blocks, so they decided to drop the aluminum version and stick with the cast iron block.
        It would have cost an enormous amount of money to make new tooling, so they stuck with the tooling that was originally intended for the aluminum block. The result was the well known super beefy slant 6.
        One of the head engineers of the slant 6, Robert Sinclair was also one of the guys that worked on the development of the australian 6. It was designed by the same chrysler engineers in Highland Park that designed all of the other great US chrysler engines. He Talked about it a few years ago in his last interview before he passed away.
        He stated that the aussies didn’t want the beef of the slant 6 due to weight issues, and they wanted the engine as light as possible. He said that the aussie block was very flexible compared to the slant 6, so much so that the first few test mules flexed to the point that the oil pan gaskets would not seal, so they had to add material as necessary.
        Murilee, you are partially correct about the 318 poly. It will physically fit into an A body, they have a generously sized engine compartment and will take a big block or even a hemi, even though it’s a tight squeeze. However, the 273 was conceived primarily because they wanted a more compact, lighter engine fitting for the A body chassis.

  • avatar

    It’s obviously personal feelings, but I feel more strongly about that car going to the crusher than almost any of the others. That or an old Falcon or Nova/Chevy II

    • 0 avatar
      Sinistermisterman

      I agree. Any car which makes it this far (i.e. over 40 years) should be given a second chance, rather than be shredded.

    • 0 avatar
      GoesLikeStink

      It looks to be in far better shape than my recently sold commuter 65 Dart Wagon. The interior, fenders, bumpers, all in better shape. And I got a grand for mine. Hell those tail lights are worth a few hundred by themselves judging by the pics of their shape. I would have loved to find one in this condition while I still had my wagon.

  • avatar
    SteveMar

    My dad used to drive a copper colored 1966 Dart, but with the base 170 straight 6 and a three on the tree manual. It ran under all conditions. Not a lot of pep, but you could usually wring out enough oomph holding it in gear. Was pretty bare bones, like this car.

    Would have lasted forever had it not gotten totaled by some kids who stole and took a joyride not knowing how to shift the transmission.

  • avatar
    PenguinBoy

    My first car was a Canadian market 1966 Valiant 200 that was pretty much identical to this US model Dart – even the colour was the same. 225 /6 with TorqueFlite, when I sold it in the early ’90s it had never had a wrench in the powertrain, and was still running just fine.

    Hopefully some of this durability rubs off on the new Dart…

  • avatar
    rpol35

    “Even buyers that opted for the more powerful 273-cubic-inch V8 got an engine that was impressively hard to kill (I’m 99% certain that the great big “Poly 318″ engine wasn’t an option in the cramped engine compartments of ’66 A-Body Chryslers, but you Mopar zealots out there are encouraged to fill in the obsessive details of that story).”

    You are right! According to the “Old Car Manual Project”, the 273 C.I. engine was the only option.

    • 0 avatar
      GoesLikeStink

      yeah I think the 67 and up had more room for the 318

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        I suspect you’re right that the ’67 had more room in the engine bay, considering that they received 383 and 440 big blocks in addition to the elephant as engine options. Still, the 1967-on US 318 was an LA the same physical size as the 273 while the ’66 and previous 318s were the A-series 318 polyspherics, which were considerably larger and heavier.

      • 0 avatar
        Moparman426W

        Yes, the 2nd gen A body had a slightly bigger engine compartment, but not by much. The LA 318 had the same external dimensions and wieghed the same as the 273, they were the same engine except for bore size.

  • avatar
    mikey

    My buddy had a 66 Valiant 225 Slant six. I had a 62 Pontiac Strato Chief with a 261 in line six.

    My buddy’s Mopar won all of our races. We called it the “leaning tower of power”

    However,when it was time to “entertain the ladies”…the big Poncho was always the vehicle of choice.

  • avatar
    markholli

    My best friend bought a ’67 Dart when he turned 16, which would have been in 2000 or so. A local dentist had owned it and cared for it meticulously. It must have been garage-kept for 33 years. The paint, chrome, and interior where still shiny, and mechanically it was 100% functional. Despite all this, I think my friend only paid like $900 bucks for it.

    Best feature: mechanical push-button automatic.

    It was built like a tank, at least to our 90′s era standards, and I remember making jokes about how huge the trunk was. Although when it was new people probably complained about the “small trunk.” “This trunk can only fit four corpses, but my Galaxie can easily accommodate eight…”

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      Chrysler,similar to GM, offered a whole different model line in Canada. I went to school with a girl, that drove her mothers 67 Dart.

      Bench seat, no radio,13 inch wheels,with “dog dish” hub caps,and rubber floor. I do remember that it had an automatic on the column.

    • 0 avatar
      Moparman426W

      The last year for the pushbutton transmissions in mopars was 64. Over the past few years prices of A bodies have been rising due to the sky high prices of of E bodies and the B body musclecars. I have seen a few top notch 340 A bodies advertised in Hemmings for 30k. Those would have to be the very best though, extremely well cared for low mileage originals or top notch restorations.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    So we go FWD to get more interior space and compared to what’s available now, this thing is so freaking roomy, it’s not even fair to compare, and all with RWD. Love them bench seats.

    • 0 avatar
      skor

      The new cars are much safer. The new cars also offer equipment and features that weren’t even dreamt about in 1966. In the Northeast these things were a favorite of the tin-worm. My friend had a ’67 when we were in high school…it had no floor boards, we called it the “Flintstone car”…..but the engine never let us down….as in always ran.

      • 0 avatar
        Volt 230

        Of course they’re much safer, my point had to do with interior room for passengers, not for electronics and other equipment taking away passenger room, which was the primary reason most companies went FWD.

  • avatar
    nando@argentina

    The Valiant was produced in Argentina in the mid-sixties.

    http://www.testdelayer.com.ar/pruebas/valiant-III.htm

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    Hmmm, looks like this poor thing has some rust issues underneath.

    I love these old Darts (which is why I don’t like the new one), you can pick up an 6 cylinder sedan in good shape pretty cheaply.
    Frankly, the love for coupe models is pretty stupid. I’m more intrested in preserving old cars for future generations than winning car shows.

  • avatar
    Athos Nobile

    My grand father had one of these. And then my younger uncle converted it into a drag car, won some races too.

  • avatar
    chicagoland

    The ’66 lasted 46 years, and it’s next to a V8 Durango that maybe was junked after 10 years? When new the Durango was what $25-35K? Talk about depreciation!

  • avatar
    Andy D

    I drove a ’66 Valiant 200 until 1990. I also had a 50$ ’74 Dart coupe for a couple of yrs. My 528e is the closest I have found to the 66 Valiant sedan.

  • avatar
    penman

    I had a 66 GT with rally steering (power steering without the pump) really built up your arms. Had 225000 miles before trading it for “more” reliable Pinto, did not get 100000 before it rusted and fell part. Wished I still had the GT


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