I live just north of Philadelphia, in Willow Grove, and at age 16 I started
looking for a classic car to fix and drive during high school. At a local
Dodge dealership in Hatboro I found a very clean 1962 numbers matching Dodge
Dart 440 2 door Hardtop. It had a 318 with a two barrel Stromberg, manual
brakes, power steering, factory undercoating, and original dual exhaust.
I bought it age 16 and drove it here and there for two years in high school,
then pretty much retired it when I went off to college. I'm 21 now and just
do minor work on it (carb tuning...etc.)
I have the original 1962 window sticker from the same dealership that I bought it from 38 years later.
Apparently, the dealership owner bought it back from a customer in the 70's,
restored most of it and then recently sold it to me because he "needed room
for airplanes." You know how it is when you can't fit those airplanes
anywhere...anyway. I also have the factory invoice from the plant at which
it was built, Newark. It has all the options, their codes, their prices,
and which ones were installed on my particular car. I've found all the
literature and manuals for the car and love living in the past. I'm a child
of the 80's but we had uninspiring cars that decade so I transposed my childhood to the 60's.
I was born a car nut and will die one!
Nothing on the car has been changed aside from the paint color and the
Charger wheels. It even has the original 62' Rubber embossed MOPAR floor
Originally, the car was a light yellow with a Polar blue roof, a very
weird combo. It has all original grey interior with only a 3 inch rip on the
front driver's seat. I immediately covered the seats to protect them from
sun damage. It has the original working radio, and only 53,283 original
miles that the dealer said were original. I never believe dealers, so I
brought 3 or 4 different mechanic friends and they said by the cleanliness
and condition of some engine paint surfaces that they were in fact original
miles. I was delighted and immediately bought the car. The dealer even
threw in an extra aluminum grill (mint in original box), something that's
worth about $400 or more....
The only items I've replaced are the water pump, fuel pump, plugs, wires,
front bushings, brake shoes, R rear muffler/tail pipe. I've rebuilt the
carb, something I don't recommend, just get a remanufactured carb. Nothing
else seems to be wrong with it. I kept the original radio and just mounted
a CD player under the dash, not destroying or losing any of the originality,
just to have some tunes. I'm sure it would just purr and thank me endlessly
with a fresh frame-off, but that will come later. The car still hauls butt,
dropping rubber on command, fooling numerous Mustang and Trans Am owners
when they think I'm taking Granny's old push-button boat for a trip to the
ACME, which I proudly do.
I've kept the car original adding only seatbelts so I don't die or anything
like that, since that metal dash is somewhat unforgiving...;)
My mom has also driven it to the super market and
dropped a few guys at the line, watching their jaws hanging in the rear view
mirror. Men her age come up to her and ask about the car, trying to show
off, but she just corrects them, because they ALWAYS misidentify it, saying
its a 64 Belvedere or Studebaker...huh?. She rattles off all the specs;
horsepower, torque, gear ratios, ci, and aspiration. They always listen in
utter disbelief; its the funniest thing to watch.
I love the car, its lines, the styling, and especially the color. It was a
car during a time when beautiful looking cars had big engines and everything
wasn't drag racing and boxy. It has "baby fins" as I call them, kinda like
clipped wings of a generation that once had beautiful arching wings like the
Desotos and Furys. I especially love all the extra chrome that comes with
the 440, it just glistens when highly polished, even after 38 years.
There's only minor pitting on the tail light bezels. It turns heads
wherever I drive it.
I've shown in a few car shows and am planning a frame-off later in life. I just have to wait until I'm older and have the
sufficient funds. I'm not going to sell this baby ever and will put it back
to stock original...I'll get some rusty non-matching junker to pro-street
later..;) When I'm 40 or 50 I want to be able to say, "I bought this car
when I was 16," without having to lie. I'm not much for mainstream classic
cars and really love the strange yet wonderful automotive gems of Dodge, the
ones that no one else has. If its too popular, I don't want it. If its
ugly but has a quirky stance, its good. Virgil Exner really had some
bizarre styling techniques...but that's precisely WHY I'm a strict MOPAR
I'll keep you updated on its progress, and whether or not I do that
As you note, 1962 Darts are very unique and controversial; even some die hard Mopar fans don't appreciate them.
Too bad, since as you note these are great B Body Mopars.