Junkyard Find: 1975 Dodge Dart

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1975 dodge dart

Will there ever be a time in which no Chrysler A-bodies show up in North America’s cheap self-serve wrecking yards? Sure, Darts and Valiants were as common 20 years ago as are dead Tauruses now, so the former torrent of old Chrysler compacts has become a trickle, but I still find at least a couple of them every time I visit The Crusher’s waiting room. In the last couple of years, this series has included this ’75 Duster, this ’64 Valiant wagon, this ’68 Valiant Signet, this ’66 Dart, this ’73 Valiant, and this ’61 Valiant, and today we’ll be admiring the car that was to 1983 what the ’94 Corolla is to 2013: a cheap, dependable sedan that nobody noticed.

This one does have an unusual option that you almost never see on Slant Six Chrysler A-bodies: air conditioning!

Most Dodge shoppers who could afford air conditioning in 1975 went ahead and got a Coronet, or at least sprang for the 318 V8 in a Dart. Perhaps this was an ex-rental car, or a New Mexico purchase.

Even in the dry Southwest, however, Detroit cars of this era managed to rust around the rear window and beneath the vinyl top.

These were just good simple cars, full of corner-cutting build-quality glitches and crappy components but easy to keep running. If I found myself transported back to 1975 and I needed to buy a cheap new car for daily-driving use, I’d probably get a Dart (though mine would be a coupe, and it would have a V8, manual transmission, and no fancy vinyl-top option). A close second choice would be the Civic.

Even with a missing hood and headlight, plus 5 MPH crash bumpers, this car has a good face.

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  • Arthur Dailey Arthur Dailey on Apr 14, 2014

    In Canada there is a book published annually called 'Lemonaid' providing recommendations for used and new car purchases. For years their number one recommendation was a Dart, preferably the 68 to 72 but also including the 73 - 75 models. The also recommended the 225 slant six rather than the V-8. These cars were cheap to buy, cheap to maintain, a decent size (could sit 6 with the standard front bench), had good sightlines and with only basic maintenance (and some rustproofing) would outlive any other cars of that era.

  • Laserwizard Laserwizard on Dec 14, 2015

    One of the worst vehicles made - by this time in its development, these cars were built like drunks made them - my family bought a new 1975 Dart and it had only one good thing about it - it was roomy. It was a dog, fuel thirsty, rode rough, seats were the most uncomfortable I can remember - seats slanted backwards far too much. This car was so awful it was one of those where Chrysler had to invent the rebate to move it. Based on the two years this dog stayed with the family, it should have been crushed in the first 30 days.

    • JimC2 JimC2 on Dec 14, 2015

      Well, that's a shame that your family got a bad one.

  • FreedMike I think this illustrates a bit of Truth About PHEVs: it's hard to see where they "fit." On paper, they make sense because they're the "best of both worlds." Yes, if you commute 20-30 miles a day, you can generally make it on electric power only, and yes, if you're on a 500-mile road trip, you don't have to worry about range. But what percentage of buyers has a 20-mile commute, or takes 500-mile road trips? Meanwhile, PHEVs are more expensive than hybrids, and generally don't offer the performance of a BEV (though the RAV4 PHEV is a first class sleeper). Seems this propulsion type "works" for a fairly narrow slice of buyers, which explains why PHEV sales haven't been all that great. Speaking for my own situation only, assuming I had a place to plug in every night, and wanted something that ran on as little gas as possible, I'd just "go electric" - I'm a speed nut, and when it comes to going fast, EVs are awfully hard to beat. If I was into hypermiling, I'd just go with a hybrid. Of course, your situation might vary, and if a PHEV fits it, then by all means, buy one. But the market failure of PHEVs tells me they don't really fit a lot of buyers' situations. Perhaps that will change as charging infrastructure gets built out, but I just don't see a lot of growth in PHEVs.
  • Kwik_Shift Thank you for this. I always wanted get involved with racing, but nothing happening locally.
  • Arthur Dailey Love the Abe Rothstein tribute suits. Too bad about the car. Seems to have been well loved for most of its life.
  • K. R. Worth noting that the climate control is shared with (donated to) the Audi 5000 of the mid-late 1980s.
  • Sloomis Looks like 108,000 miles to me, not 80,000. Not much better though...