By on April 14, 2014

04 - 1963 Dodge Dart Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinFor the entire time I’ve been on this planet, Chrysler A-bodies have been a constant presence in American wrecking yards, and they’re still quite easy to find today, 33 years after the last Valiant Charger rolled off the assembly line in Australia. I don’t photograph every Dart and Valiant that I see in junkyards, but this series has included this ’61 Valiant, this ’64 Valiant wagon, this ’67 Valiant, this ’66 Dart, this ’68 Valiant Signet, this ’73 Valiant, this ’75 Duster, and this ’75 Dart, and today we’ll admire a non-rusty California Dart two-door that I saw back in December.
07 - 1963 Dodge Dart Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe last official year of CONELRAD was 1963, and here we can see the official CONELRAD frequencies of 640 and 1240 kHz marked on this Dart’s fancy factory radio. How much was the optional AM radio in your new ’63 Dart? $169, which comes to $1,296 in inflation-adjusted dollars. Not only that, but you’d be hearing pretty much nothing but terrible hit singles and ugly news stories on that shockingly expensive staticblaster, back in ’63. Think about that the next time you’re enjoying your $300 Bluetooth-enabled aftermarket car stereo.
02 - 1963 Dodge Dart Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis car has the look of one that sat exposed to the elements for a decade or two. The biohazardous trunk contents include some icky-looking time-capsule stuff.
19 - 1963 Dodge Dart Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe car was running as recently as 1987, when a student commuted in it to the stoniest junior college in California.
14 - 1963 Dodge Dart Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIf the car had a hood (or at least an air cleaner) during its long-term abandonment, the engine innards might have stayed dry enough to remain unseized. Not that anyone is going to bother with rescuing a tired 170.
05 - 1963 Dodge Dart Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinBeing a two-door gave this car a slight chance of being saved by an auction buyer and restored, but the late-60s Darts tend to be more highly prized. Some of its parts should live on in other A-bodies, though.

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31 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1963 Dodge Dart...”


  • avatar
    FormerFF

    Hey, starting in 1964 that radio would have been playing the Beatles and all the other British Invasion bands, and shortly thereafter the Byrds and Bob Dylan.

  • avatar
    v8corvairpickup

    Well, Click and Clack will be disappointed that another 63 Dart has gone to the big wrecking yard in the sky.

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    I love this generation of ChryCo bodies. ’63 Belvedere is one of my favorite cars ever. Nice, clean and simple.

  • avatar
    57fairlane

    My first car was a 1963 Dart 170, and my current car is a 2013 Hyundai Sonata GLS. It is interesting how much, and little, things have changed in 50 years.

    Dimensionally, these are similar cars with length, width, wheelbase, height and interior room. My Dart weighted 2900 lbs to the Sonata’s 3200.

    Drag coefficient has improved with age, 0.28 for the Hyundai to 0.55 for the Dodge. My Dart had a 2-watt AM radio with a single 6×9 speaker compared to the standard 104-watt and six speaker fitment of my current car.

    The 2.8 liter OHV slant six developed 101 hp compared to the 2.4 liter DOHC four’s 198 hp. Torque is 155 to 186 pound-feet, respectively. With a three-speed auto (push button), the Dart took 17 seconds to hit 60 mph (according to Car & Driver) to the Sonata’s 8.1 seconds. The quarter mile took 21 seconds for the Dart (67 mph) compared to 16 seconds (91 mph) for the Hyundai.

    With its 13-inch tires and drum brakes, the Dart took 208 feet to stop from 60, the Sonata needs 123 feet to do the same thing with its modern brakes and 16-inch radial rubber.

    Top speed for the Dart was 91 mph, 136 for the Hyundai. The Dodge’s MPG was 17-23 to the Hyundai’s 24-35. Both cars have 18 gallon fuel tanks.

    Sticker price for the Dart was $2,157 (approximately $16,000 in today’s money) compared to $22,500 for the Hyundai. Major Dart options were dealer-installed air conditioning, full wheel covers, a foot-operated windshield washer, carpeting, heater, power-assisted brakes and steering, and ash receiver.

    My Dart hit 130,000 miles before being traded for a 67 Dart.

    • 0 avatar
      mike1dog

      All that is true, the Hyundai is a thousand times better than the Dart. I don’t want to go back to the days of points, carbs and four wheel drum brakes. I could, however with a minimal effort probably get a fifty year old car like this to run pretty easily. I doubt that fifty years from now, even if we’re still using gasoline as a fuel, that anybody would be able to revive the electronics in a fifty year old car.

      • 0 avatar
        57fairlane

        Roger on the drum brakes. The single master cylinder completely failed on the 63 Dart while I was driving downhill. All I could do was to throw the transmission lever (that came with push button transmission)down from run into park. The transmission immediately locked and I spun around 270 degrees to a stop. I put the lever back into the run position, re-started the car and limped to a garage. Poor brakes. Great transmission.

        • 0 avatar
          GoesLikeStink

          The brakes went on my 65 Dart wagon a couple of years ago. Luckily I knew the emergency brake was mechanical with a cable. Also I has a hurst 4 speed so I could downshift. Pretty darn scary though.

  • avatar
    skor

    “Not that anyone is going to bother with rescuing a tired 170.”

    It’s a shame how the I6 never caught on in the US as anything other than an el-cheapo economy engine favored by Elmer Fudd Types. To be fair GM made an attempt with an overhead cam I6 for the Pontiac Firebird, but the customers stayed away in droves.

    Interestingly, America’s Oz auto subsidiaries saw potential the I6 and developed them into proper performance engines.

    Check out this early Mustang with a turbo Ford Oz I6 run 150mph quarter youtube.com/watch?v=NrZm_eKfOKk

    • 0 avatar
      -Nate

      You’re dead wrong there ~ from the 1950′s through the late 1960′s 4 I6′s were sold for every one V-8 .

      You were not there or you’d remember this .

      -Nate

      • 0 avatar
        skor

        Perhaps I expressed myself badly. I didn’t mean to imply that the I6 was not a popular engine, it was, the I6 is what your average Murican Fudd bought because it managed to squeeze an extra 6-7 miles out of a gallon of gas as compared to even the smallest V8.

        My point is that the performance potential of the I6 was almost completely overlooked in the US in favor of V8s. The I6 has a lot going for it as a performance engine: It’s naturally balanced, most had very strong bottom ends, and the I6 can generate ass-loads of torque at low rpms. In addition, an I6 can deliver good efficiency and weighed less than V8s, which in turned improved the handling characteristics of cars equipped with an I6. With the exception of GM, no American car maker attempted to offer a sporting I6 for sale in North America. The nifty little Pontiac OHC I6 GM sold for a short time was met with a collective yawn from the American auto buying public.

        • 0 avatar
          -Nate

          @ Skor : ” The nifty little Pontiac OHC I6 GM sold for a short time was met with a collective yawn from the American auto buying public.”

          That thing was JUNK ! they all blew up by 60,000 miles , just like the AMC Jeep’s OHC I6 in the J Series trucks .

          MoPar _did_ try , in addition to the special intake manifolds available for slant sixes well into the 1990′s (Direct Connection) they also made some _Aluminum_ 225′s in…..’64 & ’65 (?), like all 225 Slant Sixes they were the shiznit .

          I’m a Bow Tie Guy ’till I die but nothing matches the MoPar’s slant six engine in any A Body ~ I’d love to have a ’64 Barracuda so equipped , I know *just* how to peak & tweak it to make a fine , fast and SAFE high speed Road Car .

          -Nate

          • 0 avatar
            geeber

            The OHC six used in Jeeps was not an AMC design. It was designed by Kaiser, if I recall correctly.

            AMC bought Jeep from Kaiser in 1970. It then began phasing out the Kaiser engines and installing its own very good engines – including the I-6s – in Jeeps. These were conventional OHV engines.

        • 0 avatar
          LeadHead

          The problem was/is I6s are long, expensive to manufacture, require careful design of the super-long crank and engine block to properly manage NVH (yes, they’re perfectly balanced, but many I6 engines have quite poor NVH) and they’re difficult to package.

          Anywhere a 4-cylinder fit, a V8 could be stuffed in without too much trouble. Anywhere a big-six fit, a big-block V8 could fit. So it’s like why bother?

          GM revisited the I6 again in 2002 with a 275-290HP 4.2L unit for SUVs. It was fairly reliable, but difficult to work on and once the 5.3 V8 got the 6 speed, it lost its fuel economy advantage.

        • 0 avatar
          fincar1

          There was not that much difference in actual reported MPG between 6 and V8 engines in the same car. I saw enough Popular Mechanics driver reports in the 1950′s and 60′s to learn that if nothing else. The difference in reported gas mileage was normally on the order of one to two miles per gallon.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        >You’re dead wrong there ~ from the 1950′s through the late 1960′s 4 I6′s were sold for every one V-8 .

        You were not there or you’d remember this .

        -Nate<

        I wasn't there, so I don't remember. Still, this sounds remarkable. I know there were plenty of I6 powered cars, but there were also plenty of Oldsmobiles, Buicks, Chryslers, Cadillacs, Lincolns, and big cars from value brands. Weren't the best selling cars usually full-sized models where any I6 that was available as likely to be installed as a manual transmission in today's cars? While there were some successful compacts and intermediates, the best sellers every year were full sized Chevrolets or Fords during that period. Most of them had V8s, adding to the total of all the various social climber brands that had all V8 lineups.

        • 0 avatar
          skor

          It’s true that most of the full size cars came equipped with V8s, although an I6 was standard on both the full size Ford and Chevy for many years. As for intermediates and compacts, most were equipped with an I6. 1/3 of first gen Mustangs were equipped with an I6. The early cars came with wheezy 170 and 200 cube engines. The later cars used 250 cube I6 engines that were just as wheezy but returned horrible gas mileage….only a couple of miles per gallon better than a 302/2 barrel. Oh, as for the V8 Mustangs, only 15% were high performance engines, the rest were 2 barrel small blocks.

    • 0 avatar

      The I6 was the standard engine type in most US cars for quite a while. My point about the 170 was that even the Slant-6 fanatics ignore it today, because 225s are cheap and plentiful.

  • avatar
    Curt in WPG

    A buddy of mine growing up had a 61 Valiant (push button tranny!) that was a little more interesting looking than this model. By the end of its life in the late 80′s (@ 350,00 miles) the horn would honk twice when you cornered hard left, the slant blew more oil out the pipe than it used in gas and the body was more bondo than metal.

    Nice looking car though.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Poor old thing .

    The three speed manual tranny and 170 shows it to have been the budget busting cheapo model from new .

    Still and all it is sad to see another one die .

    FWIW , replacing the crappy original speakers usually made for passable sound quality , Motorola was the OEM radio supplier and they made good stuff ~ $5 say that radio still works fine if the boob who stole the knobs bothered to save it .

    -Nate

  • avatar

    Musical trivia concerning cheap AM car radios. When Barry Gordy and the other Motown producers would do the final mixdowns on singles they hoped would be hits, they used a cheap 6X9 car radio speaker, figuring that would be how most people would hear the song.

    • 0 avatar
      bunkie

      Back when I was building my recording studio (early ’80s) *everyone* had a pair of Auratone monitors (which were 6″ cubes with 4″ full-range speakers) sitting on top of the console to test how mixes would sound on low-fi systems. The contrast between the large Urei Time-Align main monitors and the Aurotones was pretty substantial.

      Berry Gordy was a genius. When the Four Tops were recording “Bernadette”, Gordy kept shifting key upward on successive takes to make Levi Stubbs struggle to hit the high notes in order to make it sound like a painful experience.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      But the radio in that Dart would have channeled the signal through an “all transistor” tuner. That was still a selling point in ’63, since car radios still used tubes just a few years before.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      Now they use smartphones and laptops as reference monitors.

    • 0 avatar
      WildcatMatt

      If I’m not mistaken, Buck Owens did the same thing.

  • avatar
    patman

    $300? I just put a new bluetooth radio in my car a few weeks ago – it cost less than that AM radio option including shipping and an installation kit and it has Pandora control built in in addition to hands/eyes free calling, USB & aux inputs, and a legacy (ha!) CD player. It’s amazing what they cram into a radio for your dollar today. I get in the car and a few seconds later it’s pulling music through my phone without me having to touch it or even take it out of my pocket.

  • avatar
    Ron B.

    Australia’s Chrysler Franchise started out with the Slant 6 in 225 form but they were damned expensive from the beginning .Previously they were selling 1953 Plymouth Cranbrooks dressed up with bolt on fins and 56 plymouth Fronts…up until 1960. A more woeful looking car has yet to be built (although BMW tried hard with bangles horrors) .When the R1 Valiant was introduced here people ,with money, lept at them and suddenly here was a car with a six that would beat anything else on the road . The performance version was never sold here but local firms made copies of Offenhauser manifolds and various multiple carb set ups from SU’s to Webers were offered.
    In the late 60′s Chrysler introduced it’s own locally designed and developed six. a straight up and down engine with a polysphere/wedge combustion chamber which they named the “hemi” .From the beginning this was known as one powerful engine and eventually it morphed into the legendary E38 with triple webers in the charger body (oZ charger) and in New Zealand you could order the same powerplant in a regular valiant four door body….
    My mum had an E38 new, a veritable weapon of a car which in terms of flat out acceleration would beat Fords GTHO falcon and out handle one. The American don’t know what they missed.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      The Australian Hemi-6 was a development of a still-born truck engine program called the D-engine. When it was determined that the US truck market didn’t need a bigger inline 6 to bridge the gap between a 225 and a 318, Chrysler US sent the program to Chrysler Australia, where its name was changed to Hemi-6. I’m sure it was a fine engine, but we had the 340 V8 in the dying days of US leaded fuel, and that was an exceptional performer in the various A-bodies it was installed in.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Maybe some of you guys don’t like 63 Darts with slant sixes but I will always have good memories of them. My older brother bought a new 63 2 door Dart 170 like this but it was light green with a three on the tree and dark green interior. That car ran great after going well over 100k miles and surviving 3 kids and midwestern winters. My niece was caught with a water hose filling the gas tank and amazingly the car still started. If I remember my brother paid about $1,700 new with the only options being an AM radio and a heater. Yes today’s cars are safer, more efficient, have more horsepower, and nice equipped but the Dart for its time was much more affordable and was a great running car. My brother scrapped together his savings and all the money he got as a wedding gift and bought his first car at the age of 19. In today’s world not many younger people can afford to buy a new car unless they have a decent job and can qualify for a loan.

  • avatar
    doug-g

    I loved the skating shoe picture and it worked (or so I thought) great for a thread going on with my FB friends. I copied and pasted it. This is how damned involved something simple can become. It went to PMs:

    [me]

    5:23pm

    Thanks, I have S.O.B. on VHS. Now I have to drag out the VCR, hook it up and watch that movie to see that house… LOL!

    [redacted]

    5:24pm

    its also in a 1978 edition of architectural digest, lol. i have the floor plans from the edwards reno, but theyre probably indecipherable to anyone esle. it was debbie reynolds house for a very long time…and one of my favorites in BH.

    [me]

    5:27pm

    I LOVE that movie. The dialog was a bit contrived, but I still use some of it. “If you want to highlight the sins of prostitution corrupt a virgin, not a whore”.

    [redacted]

    5:29pm

    my dad used to work with blake before moving over to norman lear. i havent seen SOB since it opened…i didnt ‘get’ a lot of it.

    5:34pm

    [me]

    I have always loved that film. Sort of real life in a way for Edwards. Oh, see you liked your “prize”. I found those on one of my car blogs today and was going to put them in Alison’s thread about finding her skating shoes. Then, as often happens, they inspired another piece of business.

    [redacted]

    5:35pm

    good, cause she would not have ‘got’ it, lol. she’s a little “linear” cause her heads going in so many directions, these days.

    [me]

    5:38pm

    LOL. I sometimes wonder if Alison gets my humor at times, I hope she realizes that I am often kidding about things. Seriously, what a gem she is, her folks hit a home run with her.

    [redacted]

    5:41pm

    i dont think she has a frame of reference for you, so it may not compute. she tends to link with people who live or lived in the LA she understands. then again, i’m always surprised when she doesnt know certain things we take as givens, such as “Shampoo” being set on election eve 1968. she tought it was just 1975 with a 60s look. dont give it too much thought. ok, its clearly nap time for me — i’m rambling.

  • avatar
    mechimike

    I love that the pushbuttons Chrysler used for the radio presets were the same ones they used on the automatic transmission (for those cars so equipped- I realize this car’s a manual).


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