Talk about a survivor! My son and I stumbled across this 1962 Dart Wagon at the Jefferson, Wisconsin car show a few years back. And happy to say, we just saw it again this past September, still driven to the show and still looking as rough as ever.
Even back in 1962, this wagon wasn’t popular, with only 24,050 Dodge Dart wagons (including just 7,488 V8-powered Dart 330 Wagons like our featured relic) finding homes. Given their utilitarian mission, even the homes they found weren’t likely to coddle them. Wagons were seen as nothing more than workhorses and family haulers, and the vast majority were used up and thrown away. Ugly duckling wagons were probably even less beloved than most.
But not this one. Some way, somehow this old beast managed to survive until the present owner bought it. This Dodge wagon’s current keeper is very friendly and delights in the Dart’s rough ‘n ready shape, proudly noting that it can still drive just fine on the road and doesn’t need to be preciously hauled to events like so many of the trailer queens that frequent old car shows.
Part of the 55-year longevity for this oddball is the fact that it undoubtedly spent most of its years in a relatively benign climate. Based on these old, faded bumper stickers, this Dart made its way to some of Georgia’s tourist attractions.
The Six Flags Over Georgia amusement park opened in 1967 in the Atlanta suburbs. Perhaps this Dart’s family visited the park soon after it opened.
A few years before that, in 1965, Stone Mountain Park opened in the Atlanta area, replete with a railway and family friendly activities. So we can guess that, at least for its early years, this Dodge was a Southern family hauler.
To commemorate that likelihood, the present owner added a vintage Alabama front plate to augment the period appeal of the car. In all probability, this old Dart wouldn’t exist at all if it had been exposed to the ravages of road salt that claimed virtually all daily drivers north of the Mason-Dixon Line.
And most of the parts and pieces on the old Dodge are still working, like the exterior rear-window crank handle: the owner loves to show it off as being “good as new!”
Also in this shot you can see some subtle styling details that are often overlooked, like the ribbed indentations running down the center of the roof. Little styling flourishes like this were Virgil Exner trademarks.
In fact, seeing the deteriorated Dart calls to mind a decrepit Victorian house. While the original design may have been “too much” for most folks, somehow the ravages of time soften the impression and highlight some of the intricacies of the shapes and detailing.
Even the disintegration of the interior can’t hide the attractiveness of Dodge’s 1962 instrument panel. All this almost makes you want to jump behind the wheel of the old Dart and fire her up! May the ancient 318 keep running strong!
Hopefully this Dart Wagon will return for another viewing at Jefferson. I know my son and I will be looking for it. And maybe Joe Dennis can join us to work his camera magic and better capture the unlikely beauty in this rolling display of decay.
Mopar wagons of the 50s and 60s are endlessly fascinating to me. Because they sold in such relatively low volumes, they made all kinds of styling compromises in order to allow the sharing of stampings among the various divisions.
I had never noticed that the Dart wagon lost the odd upswept rear quarter trim in favor of the Plymouth’s protruding quarter panel blades. And your comparison to these Exner cars to Victorian architecture has some merit. Although I suspect Exner would disagree. 🙂
Last point – one gripe I always had with the 62-63 Plymouth and Dodge was the choice to use so much plastic on the dashes. I have never seen one of these on which the silver and chrome finishes on the plastic survived even a few years. By 1965 they were back to some really expensive metal pieces that held up very well (at least in drier climates).
The ’62-’63 Dodge instrument pods all seem to age really badly with that plastichrome on those lower instruments. I wonder how the Plymouth dash holds up? I guess all that cost-cutting was taken a bit too far?
The few Plymouths of that era I can recall seeing all looked something like this one. Ford tried that early plastichrome on radio buttons and it didn’t work any better.
I had never actually noticed this before just now – it appears that the 63 Studebaker went for the very same look that the 62 Plymouth used – with the round chrome bezels on the ribbed silver panel (in a more conventional shape, of course). Had Plymouth gone with the old-school metal, the look would have aged much better.
It’s interesting to see the Dodge’s steering wheel condition. Looks like nobody ever put a cover on it, and the plastic looks like old Bakelite. Somehow the world “caramelized” comes to mind. Though rubberized plastic on modern steering wheels tends to look like that in cabs or other very heavy duty vehicles, I don’t recall seeing it on older plastics. Is there anybody out there that also finds this disconcerting?
Haha, I suspect you’re right about Exner disagreeing–I imagine he fancied himself more of a Mid-century Modern guy. One interesting tidbit from the book Virgil Exner: Visioneer by Peter Grist is a picture and location for the house where the Exners lived in Birmingham, MI. The attached photo shows the house back in the day, with a drivable concept car built by Virgil Exner, Jr. (Exner Sr.’s son, also a talented designer).
Here’s a present day picture of 1036 Westwood Drive. It’s a lovely home, but very traditional. Just adds to Exner’s complexity 😉
He had to keep his wife happy. They’re the ones that make these kinds of decisions anyway. 🙂
Interestingly, Brooks Stevens designed a moderne house for his family in 1939 – but his wife insisted on traditional interior details and furniture. Here’s a great WPT film on the house: http://video.wpt.org/video/2365547642/
Ok, I REALLLY don’t get it. Never liked “rat rods” or “rat bikes” unless some kid genuinely put a car or bike together that he found in some farm field and the farmer said “it’s yours if you can get it to run” What’s the point of dragging this pice of junk to car shows? Doesn’t even have a for sale sign on it. Thats like take your childs finger painting, to an art gallery!.. No wait, THAT would probably sell, with critics calling it a “primitive” work of art. 🙂
Indeed, you do not.
While this is definately into the decay spectrum as opposed to patinated, it came by this look honestly. It’s the fake patina that grinds my gears.
So I’ll go on record as saying I like this, I’d rather see it than another plum crazy challenger, ho hum.
But if it was mine, I’d spring for a paint job in single stage grey urethane.
Ok, I REALLLY don’t get it.
So why are you here? This website was originally founded for the appreciation of genuine survivor cars that still run. And this is as fine a CC as any we’ve ever shown here.
The car below is what inspired CC. Is it any different?
Ok.. sooo, you’re saying that If I don’t find a rusted out crap car like this a “Curbside Classic” I can’t comment? Not a snob here, and yes in the down and out times I have had cars that looked this bad. , no actually worse, A “57 Plymouth made almost entirely of bondo, Brown, and look like it was painted by using an old fashion shoe polish with the cotton dawber, comes to mind. But I never thought “wow, this would look great at a Mopar Show!” It just saddens me to let a car get that ragged out, and be proud of it.
Hi Jon, no, they aren’t calling you a snob. They are answering your statement that you do not “get it”. The whole thing with shows is that there are lots of different things that appeal to some folks that carry no appeal to others, and that is fine. Your criticism is out of line. There is a big difference between a child’s fingerpaints and modern art, yet a lot of folks don’t see the difference and therefore don’t try to understand the difference that sets it apart. You hear so often “I could do that myself” when someone looks at a Picasso cubist piece, yet that person could no more create a fine piece of art like that themselves than fly to the moon on their own wings. Entropy and wear and tear are not the same, just like a pair of “distressed” jeans are not like a real vintage pair that has been worn for years and shows its age. If you don’t want to understand, then don’t get upset and say you don’t “get it” and then not listen to people trying to inform. And certainly, remember what your mother told you about if you don’t have anything nice to say….
Hey…is there an article on that Cadillac? Would like to read it.
You can find this and all our old articles in the archives on the right, or just use the Search by Google feature.
That ’72 Caddy looks in rougher shape than the ’62 Dart wagon.
The 1 thing I would do to the Dodge is get all 4 hubcaps uniform like the picture of the new wagon from the brochure. I like the hubcaps in the picture.
I am just happy to see a 62-64 Mopar B body that is not painted in a high-impact color and is not wearing “hey look at me, I’m a badass” wheels.
While not my taste, I do get it.
Keep in mind that automobiles, houses and motorcycles are about the only form of antiques where completely refinishing the object to like new condition is considered desirable. Anything else, (toys, furniture, firearms, etc.) keeping the object in original condition is mandatory.
I long ago got used to the idea that bicycles, my third love in antiques, must keep the original paint and decals to have any value on the collector market.
Of those three exceptions, the demand for restoration probably has a lot to do with the condition of the object as its originally found, and its usefulness therein. Nobody would want to try to live in a house that’s be allowed to deteriorate for a century or two, so restoration is usually mandatory under the heading of “maintenance”.
Cars and motorcycles (especially the old stuff) are usually found in the same condition – undriveable. Thus the restoration. And they’re still usually not as appreciated as someone who’s car has managed to live thru the decades with only necessary maintenance.
After all, anyone with time and money can take some metal from a scrapyard and rebuild it to a factory original, like new, vehicle. To have found one that has been cared for enough that it’s still going despite decades of wear is something much rarer.
A fabulous find, even if it wasn’t on the curb. I’ve long given up finding a ’62 Dodge or Plymouth CC, which is why I finally gave up. This one would have really inspired me.
Our ’65 Coronet was of course very similar in some regards, yet the changes toned it down quite a lot. But of course that whole rear end of the body was taken through ’65 with just very few changes, and I was quite conscious of that at the time. One detail that didn’t last was that ribbing on the roof; our Coronet did not have that. I wonder why it was there in the first place, and then removed. Oh wait a minute, never mind….
It’s a pretty special car like this that can be parked in front of a dive bar, next to the 4×4 pickups and Jeeps and be the baaaddest vehicle on the lot.
I won’t Even Paint The Car.That Is The Beauty Of Aging.For The Same Reason I Don’t Find Old People who Had Plastic Surgery And Color Their Hair Very Interesting.My 1979 Benz Has Faded Paint(original)&I Think It Just Adds More Character To the car.
I would definitely walk across the show field to see any car like this.
There have definitely been some second thoughts about getting my 63 Valiant back after the new carpet went in. Something is just not quite the same.
Nice and clean, yes. But some of it’s honesty has been stripped away. And for a week or two it smelled like a new car !
This car actually attracts tons of attention. In the sea of pristine (and often over-restored) cars at classic car shows, people love seeing an original specimen like this one. The fact that it drives in and parks proudly with the Mopars (not on a flatbed, not in the swap meet area for junk), just adds to the allure. Most people cannot get over the fact that it is still roadworthy, and love seeing it drive in and out. According to the owner, basically no one can remember the last time they saw a ’62 Dodge wagon in person, in any condition.
My son went crazy over this car the first time we saw it, and was thrilled to see it again this year! It really leaves an impression, and makes the point that most cars of any era are mundane haulers, not muscle cars and convertibles.
Well said, GN. And thanks for the attention you’ve given this road warrior.
So many of the cars I grew up with as represented at shows never looked that good when they were new,fresh off the dealer lot.
Cars of all makes during my high school years looked just like this.
My brother’s brief fling with a 63 Chrysler 300 convertible was in a little better shape than this Dodge, but the paint was faded, seats rotted, had a patch welded in the right rear fender. And that was at 10 years old.
It certainly grabbed my attention, as I saw it at Jefferson too. Very cool survivor.
There have actually been quite a few late 50s- early 60s Mopars showing up at shows here in SE Wisconsin, many of them all patina’d up like this one.
Lest we forget there is a beautiful ’62 Plymouth Fury wagon in ‘It’s a mad, mad, mad world’ plus a few other ’62 Mopars. Have always loved these, and even more since I saw the movie as a kid.
From the IMCDB…
I have always hated the front ends of the 62 sedans/coupes/verts but I’ll be damned if it isn’t a better fit on the wagon! i have literally NEVER seen one!
What a car!
Unfortunately what jumped out at me about the front are the odd painted on stripes around the headlight buckets, intended to continue the grille slats. Once seen it can not be unseen.
The stripes aren’t just painted. The frame is stamped to match the slats.
IMHO, these Dodge wagons are THE ugliest 60s vehicles I can think of. The Dodge Dart wagons that followed them in 63 really come close to being this ugly, too.
If I saw this at a car show I’d want to get a close look at if for no other reason than to see if that ugly was “hiding” a lot of muscle. Because it is, to my eyes, so ugly, I’m not so sure if I owned it I would sink much money into restoring it, either. I would probably spend a reasonable amount keeping it driveable and maybe eventually do a rolling restoration.
For me, the biggest attraction here is the rarity.
Oh, yeah, weird about those ribs in the roof panel. I’ll bet there is a doozy of a reason for why they were done like that instead of the more common wider spacing sometimes seen. Like maybe it was part of the way the two halves of the prototype were separated and they really weren’t intended for production.
Ive never actually seen a wagon this model, we got the fourdoor sedans relabled Phoenix but none of the other body styles, kinda like it too.
Rare old car’s find…………….
Great car! Missing side trim on the rear quarter panel and all.
I wonder how it came to be that the roof became so uniformly patina-d to the top of the pillars, yet the other visible top surfaces of the car retained their paint better? I don’t think they would have applied a vinyl roof to this kind of car / model.
When I go to the Georgetown car show in the summers, there is a car in this kind of shape. It’s a Mercury something or other. I’ll look for it next time for comparison. Thanks for sharing this!
I think this car needs to be restored, since there are so few left. Mechanical parts are fairly easy to come by, but trim is something that will have to be searched for. It would be great if it could be stripped down to it’s bare shell and meticulously rebuilt. It would take determination …and money ! Might look nice in “Kitchen Blue”. That’s what the shade of light blue was referred to as. There was also a “Kitchen Green”, sort of a pale aqua.
One of the interesting things to me is how even the patina is all around the car. Given its overall condition and survivor status I was guessing it spent many years sitting outside before someone got it running again. As such, I assumed I could tell which way it had been parked by the way the sun had faded the paint, but no such luck. I have to wonder if it has been a driver for the past 55 years?
I love this post, and I love this car! You can’t buy this kind of patina and authenticity. I have actually been to that Six Flags (about 20 years ago), and I had no idea the park dated from the sixties. And Jefferson just might have to be a destination for me next year! 🙂
It has a ‘finish’ that looks like a metal Tonka toy truck that has been left outside for years, but it IS unique. The fact that it can be driven to car shows under its own power MUST count for something.
I’ll guess this old Dodge wagon from ’62 was parked outside for years due to all of its patina, but I’ll bet it’s at least parked under a carport now — if not inside a garage. I have a carport for my oldie and if I didn’t the car would’ve turned into a complete rust bucket. For years I had to park it outside ‘in the elements’ but at some point you’ve just got to keep your aging beastie away from said ‘elements’.
ALSO, I wonder if that rare 1977 Mercury Villager wagon is still around. This article made me think of it in those parade pictures seen on-site.
What a survivor. My neighbors across the alley had a dark blue ’64 Belvedere wagon, with the plastic wind deflectors on the D pillars. As Paul notes, they’d cleaned up the rear end a bit, but the rear end of Chrysler’s early 60s B (and C) Body wagons wasn’t their best aspect. But even Ford and GM struggled a bit there, too.
I totally understand originality. I drive a survivor myself. And on some level this is a pretty cool find. What I don’t understand is why anyone would allow their car to deteriorate this much while continuing to drive it. Unless this thing was just pulled from a field where it sat for 30 years.
To me, preserving a car’s original condition only makes sense if it’s in reasonably decent condition. This Dodge is too far gone for that. Once it gets to the point where about a third of the surface is bare rust, new paint is not even restoration but just plain maintenance.
The 62 Dodge is so ugly, that it is GORGEOUS! Love these cars. Would prefer a 361-383- or 413 Instead of that poly engine.. The sedan version was hot, but the station wagon is way hotter. One of my favorites.
I have seen the vehicle at Jefferson as well and I managed to acquire a four-door model Dart 330 and have it stored in in my backyard with a cover on it right now having rear brake problems with it but it runs and drives love it the ugly duckling lives
I have a 62 dodge dart wagon for sale in California,call me if interested 9096010480gabriel