When you’re looking at cars for sale on Craigslist, you never know what you’re going to find. So when I saw this 1962 Dodge Dart listed with its accompanying pictures, I thought, “Oh, wow! This is really something!” I was further shocked to discover that, except for one junky wagon, no one had ever posted multiple photos of an actual curbside example on CC!
This car is so mint, so pure, so over-the-top in its late Forward Look glory, that it’s hard to find words to express what I’m seeing. I think the way to look at it is to treat it like a complex modern art masterpiece, and try to see and feel what the artist is saying. If you like studying the fine details of a car and how they flow together, have I got the car for you!
I’m providing links to Craigslist and a car auction site so you can see everything and read all the glorious prose: “It is so rare to find a 60-year-old car that is this clean and original.” “With clean lines and elegant curves, this 1962 Dodge Dart is a good looking car. Even though it’s 60 years old, this car looks like it was designed and built in the future.” “The gauges look like they are straight out of a spaceship.” “The engine runs strongly and certainly packs a punch.”
We all know that sales listings can be here today and gone tomorrow, so I am preserving for all time on CC what I consider the best pictures. I’m just going to lay them out here with no extra commentary from me, and you can just drink them all in as you scroll down. All I can say is that . . . starting in 1957-58, then ’59, ’60, ’61 . . . Dodge kept hitting the public with these flashy, startling, sensational, eye-popping designs; finally culminating in this out-of-this-world, downsized finale! After this, “normality” prevails, and things would never be this way again!
Related CC Reading:
Automotive & Design History: 1962 Plymouth & Dodge – The Real Reason They Were Downsized
Thank god Mom & Dad waited till 1964 to buy their station wagon…
Wasn’t one of these featured in the movie “Its a Mad, Mad, Mad World”?
I believe Spencer Tracy drove it in the movie.
I found it….I found it!!!
Every time I see a pic of a ’62 Dart, I think of the car that Spencer Tracy’s character Captain Culpeper drove in that movie.
The character Sylvester who played Ethel Merman’s character’s son drove a red ’62 Dart Convertible in that movie.
Here’s the red Dart Convertible
I didn’t realize that Dodge used an all lowercase sans serif font (reminiscent of but not quite Helvetica) on the gauge cluster. Very much trying to inspire a modern look.
Interesting. Never noticed that before.
This caught my eye too. Also on the turn signal indicator light (only one for both directions – cheapskates!) and pushbuttons for auto trans and ventilation.
I’m confused at the use of two logos though – the Fratzog on the dash below the speedometer, and the Olds/Lincoln like star on the hood, trunk lid, and steering wheel. I’ve seen these with fratzogs on the rear fenders and hubcaps though this one doesn’t have them.
I can only surmise that the fratzog was a running change. IIRC, it was brand-new for 1962 so they just continued using the asymetrical style logo on some parts until they ran out of them, then swtiched to the fratzog on all parts of the car.
That Olds/Lincoln like star was the 1962 version of the Dart model logo. The Fratzog was the Dodge Division’s logo.
The cars with the Fratzog on the rear fenders and (fancier) wheel covers were probably high-trim 440 models, and maybe the mid-trim 330s got them too; this is a low-trim base Dart.
I’ve owned 3 VW’s, and only the last one has right and left interior turn signal indicators. I think of it as one of the “sell outs” by VW, maybe to please the Consumer Reports crowd, not the only one (low seating position, instrumentation, etc..) compared to my prior A1 and A2 (it is an A4)….I don’t need to be reminded which direction I put the turn signal lever into, so one light is fine for me…leaves room for other more necessary stuff on the dash in my view.
I really like the ’62 Plymouth more than the ’62 Dodge, but like the Dodge’s dash a bit more than the Plymouth. I like roomy cars that are space efficient, which for a full sized car I think they were back then. My Dad’s first car was a ’56 Plymouth Plaza, he owned a couple Dodge’s but never another Plymouth (or a Chrysler). My Mom learned to drive on a ’51 Chrysler Windsor.
It’s doubly surprising considering they used a dated, flowery ’50s-style script for “Dodge” on the rear deck. Maybe not, given the way seniority in the design studio works.
A great detail though!
Looks like it might be Futura, or something between it and Helvetica. I like it!
Futura was my first thought as well, but the lower-case “a” lacks the ball-and-stick form. Agree that it’s something between Futura and Helvetica.
Definitely more Helvetica than Futura, but there are some interesting details like the tail on the t and the narrow f that are interesting. The overall car is definitely not to my taste but that single picture of the gauge cluster stopped me cold-it’s possibly the only thing I like about this car.
Would whoever designed the gauges have consciously sought to consistently use a specific font? Or would it just be a case of “This looks good.”?
Hard to read the praises being sung about this `62 Dart. And for numerous reasons. The `62 line of Dodges/Plymouths hit a sales flop they didn’t need. And they were the direct result of a false rumor overheard at a dinner party by execs back in the summer of `59. Virgil Exner had a heart attack in 1960, and was let go by the time these hit the streets. And these cars left MoPar without a true full-size offering.
Dodge “Scrambled” and tossed together a variation of the `62 Chrysler Newport called the 880 so they could compete. It was an eleventh hour move, and shouldn’t have been needed.
PN debunked the “dinner party” theory pretty thoroughly a few years back. The TL:DR is that Chrysler had been an engineering-led organization throughout WPC’s lifetime and Engineering sometimes was able to flex its’ muscles in ways that didn’t always work out in the marketplace. This was one of them.
With more “normal” styling and repositioned as a mid-size, this platform was successful well into the late ’70s.
Sales bounced back strongly in 1963 when this car (and the companion Plymouth) were given an emergency redesign that resulted in much more conventional styling. The problem was less the smaller size than the strange styling.
It was the same with the A-bodies. With much more conventional styling for 1963, both the Valiant and Dart enjoyed healthy sales increases.
You’re right, this is a stunning example of a car that I normally don’t like because of it’s awkward styling. However, these cars were not popular when new and most of them (at least the 4 door sedans) have been used up and thrown away long ago so seeing this one in this condition is a real treat! Almost wish I had the space to keep it and I’d buy it for myself. Sure to attract a lot of attention at the local cruise-ins. Oddly enough, I think the ’62 Plymouths came off looking much better than their Dodge counterparts. But it’s still a shame that the powers that be at Chrysler at the time made Exner downsize his initially proposed designs for the ’62 model year. The original Plymouth was actually really a good looking car.
Here is an example of a car we all typically saw in old, run down condition, and never gave it a second thought. Get it all together as the designers and factory intended, and it “works” much better. Most “ugly” cars work out that way when you see them as they were supposed to have been seen.
Sometimes, a thing is so ugly that it is beautiful! My heart lusts for this car!
I barely remember seeing these on the roads when new Chevrolets and Ford full- and mid-size cars were everywhere, and they were a bit of a “find” when they appeared. For CC-posterity’s sake, thanks for filling a gap in the roster with a nice set of photos—and for letting the images speak for themselves. MCM indeed!
I’m with Stephen on this one. It’s the details that make the difference. The proportions are great and obvious care that went into each small jot and tittle is in such contrast to many later productions. It was the end of a flawed but fabulous era.
I would be very happy looking at that dashboard from behind the wheel.
And if you’re into Exnerian flamboyance, this car is a lot more of a practical size for everyday use than its full-size predecessors.
I hope the new owner doesn’t molest it.
Well I for one thought that when these cars came out they were beautiful.
Perhaps my addled teenage brain was influenced by the fact that these light(er) weight and tight little cars were deceptively fast when equipped with the 361 V8 and TorqueFlite automatic. (I believe there were 2 or 3 even bigger V8s available).
Of course 1962 was when I graduated high school – what did I know.
60 years later, I still think these look great; the Plymouths too.
But then gain, I also really liked my first gen 2002 PT Cruiser.
Here’s a pic of a 62 Dodge I posted in one of my COALs in 2018.
Its one of the model cars.
I personally love the unusual styling of these. I always have. Of course I also like the over-the-top styling of my 2016 Civic Coupe too, so I suppose there’s no accounting for taste. 🤣
That car is a finely preserved example. I really don’t know my Mopar engines, but if that’s the venerable 318 under the hood, it’ll probably run forever.
Judging by the condition, that 53,569.2 on the clock is likely correct. It probably doesn’t have 153,569.2, but with these 5 digit odometers of yore, it’s difficult to say.
Modern Art? I doubt that this will ever reach the status of the Jaguar XKE of which one is in The Museum of Modern Art on 53rd Street in Manhattan. I felt sorry for Chrysler when I first saw this new and exciting driving experience. Check out a 1962 Chevy Impala four-door sedan ad compare.
I’ll take that –
Pepsi– Impala challenge, sure!
Let’s see, now. With its exterior design, the Impala looks very much like a car. What kind of car? A car, just a car, not very different to a ’62 Ford. Oh, wait, it’s got triple taillights, so there we go, that hints that it’s a Chev…or a Plymouth. Other than that? Generic car. Dashboard and instrument cluster? Generic car. Rest of the interior? Generic car. Front end, roofline, greenhouse, silhouette, stance? Generic car.
H’m. Maybe the Chev will fare better if we open the hood, or put it up on a lift? Oops, maybe not; basic equipment in the Chev was an archaic Stovebolt engine and the automatic was an uncooled, 2-speed Powerglide—versus the Dodge’s thoroughly modern and highly excellent Slant-6 and water-cooled 3-speed Torqueflite. This Dodge has a V8, and if we compare on that basis Chev’s 283 was a fine motor, but still inferior in the transmission department.
For me your comparison isn’t working out the way you seem to have in mind. Beyond that, there’s an immense amount of modern art in the world; only a tiny permillage of it is in MOMA’s collection—that is not a yes/no indicator of whether something qualifies as modern art.
(…and beyond that, the ’62 Chev isn’t in MOMA, either.)
Back in the day I thought these were hideous. But while I won’t say that now I find them attractive, I could still look at some of those details all day. For this car the whole is less than the sum of the parts, but some of those parts are pretty stunning.
Beautiful car! I would replace the plastic fuel filter ASAP though! Just get a metal one and not worry about it. They are a few bucks, replace them yearly if you want.
I can only see using a plastic fuel filter as a “temporary” thing if restarting a car that has been sitting, to collect any sediment from the tank and in the lines. However, I would monitor it closely and dispose of it as soon as possible!
I hate to see this classic burn up because of a cheap fuel filter. I see vendors selling them at car shows – who knows how old they are – and then people put them on their newly restored, six-figure classic cars! Makes no sense.
Yeah, eh? Take yer choice: 40-50-60-year-old plastic from back when ethanol was considered a contaminant in gasoline…or new plastic from parts of the world where quality control and adherence to specifications are considered amusing jokes about bizarre Western fetishes.
Neither for me, thanks, and glass is a nonstarter in this application as well. The correct answer is metal.
Our neighbors two houses down bought a new ’62 Dart four door hardtop in red, to replace a ’56 DeSoto. I was pretty impressed as it was by far the “newest” car in 1962. I did find some of the styling details a bit challenging but then I was used to that from Chryslers.
I prefer the ’62 Plymouth over the Dodge, and its dash is one of the best ever, worthy of a Corvette or such. The Dodge’s is a bit of a letdown in relative terms.
The Dodge doesn’t work so well for me as a sedan, but the Polara 500 convertible is terrific, and very much a precursor to the Mustang and other long-hood, short-deck sporty cars to come.
The shape of the grille with the headlights also showed up in other creations of the time such as this 1962 Sears Flightliner bicycle:
That looks very familiar — I received a new Murray bike in red for Christmas 1962 with dual headlights and a tank. The lights were powered by 2 D-size batteries and were very feeble. Within a few years, both the lights and tank were removed, never to be used again.
Think you might mean Spaceliner rather than Flightliner.
Believe it or not, I have my sister’s ’66 bought new, I got a 3 speed english racer instead…what I remember is that they ripped the headliner putting the boxes in the back of my Dad’s ’65 Olds F85 Wagon…they said they’d “take care” of it, but when they found out my Dad had Allstate insurance, they put a claim against his policy. This made my Dad so mad, he refused to consider buying an Allstate policy for the rest of his life (he called them the “slippery hands” people).
My bike riding days are behind me, don’t know why I hang onto it. I’m a twin, hence the 2 bicycles.
. . . and the eyes of this Picasso sculpture in Chicago:
It was called a Dodge Phoenix over here, a local identity had one new it was one weird looking car, very different to the rest of the traffic I saw as a kid.
Once again a low mileage, garaged car, in beautiful condition, is discovered today. As expected, it has almost no options save for the base V8, automatic transmission, and heater. It was probably bought new by someone who began their adult life in the middle of the great depression, a person who knew the value of money and was dedicated to taking great care of their automobile investment, likely expecting the car to last them for many years to come. It may well have been the only automobile they bought new, and the last car they drove.
I’ve been fortunate to find quite a few examples of 1-owner, low mileage cars over the years, and with only a few exceptions all had no [or few] options. One glorious exception was a 1950 Packard Custom Eight sedan [Packard’s most expensive 4-door sedan that year], and when I found it in 1990, the car had done only 1,100 miles. It still had the original Firestone wide white wall tires with the spiderweb embossed design in the sidewalls.
What amazed me about the car’s condition was if someone was standing next to the car, they could not hear it run. I had heard this claim from the older men who worked on or sold these Packards when new, but I figured they were exaggerating a little bit. The original Ultramatic transmission [2-speed] shifted so smoothly it was difficult to know when the shift occurred. I ended up selling the car to a Florida car museum, picking up the new owner at the airport in the car, but I did keep the speed down because the tires were 40+ years old!
> The original Ultramatic transmission [2-speed] shifted so smoothly it was difficult to know when the shift occurred.
Didn’t the earlier Ultramatics normally stay in 2nd gear all the time like a Buick Dynaflow in its only forward gear, shifting into 1st only if done manually with the column shifter? I’ve read that 1st/low gear was intended for use on steeper hills, but many owners found the acceleration lackadaisical so often started in 1st manually for better pickup.
I remember back when this car was new, my dad commented that it looked as if they forgot it was supposed to get 4 head lights, and at the last moment they stuck the additional 2 lights in the grill.
Hard to believe this car ended up being the platform for the Cordoba less than 15 years later..
Our neighbors were Mopar loyalists, and they had a white (with a red interior) 1962 Dart wagon in good condition well into the 1970s. I remember looking over the strange design details, which somehow didn’t seem quite as “out there” on the wagons.
A fine article with crisp, clear pictures on an often over-looked car.
But I still maintain the the same shared basic body Plymouth was a more attractive car; inside and outside.
The 1962 Plymouth interior:
you’re not alone. I also think the similar Plymouth came out a lot less odd, and therefore better looking than the Dodge of that year.
I am actually a fan of these cars. Chrysler Australia assembled a right hand drive version and badged it a Dodge Phoenix. The Dodge Phoenix sold in Australia from 1960 until 1968 as Chrysler Australia’s top of the passenger care range luxury car.
Give me one of these unique 1962 Plymouth / Dodges in 4 door pillarless hardtop form. Maybe a dark red exterior with a contrasting red interior. Now thats motoring at its best.
I agree with you! The Dodge looks odd next to the Plymouth. I didn’t particularly care for either car back in 1962 but they look much better to me now!
I agree with you! The Dodge looks odd next to the Plymouth. I didn’t particularly care for either car back in 1962 but they look much better to me now!
Me too—in just about every detail, right down to those glorious concave wheel covers.
Quote: “so over-the-top in its late Forward Look glory,”
This is post-Forward Look, not late Forward Look.
Technically, that’s correct. They called it “Forward Flair”.
Nice fine Stephen!
Like most here, I found the styling of the $62 Dodge in Plymouth quite ugly when they first came out. Now 60 years on, I love the proportions, smaller size, and most of the details except for the oddly juxtaposed headlights on the Dodge. The only thing missing from these cars is curved side glass.
Here’s a ’62 Dodge Polara 500 hardtop on permanent display at a historic Shell station near where I live in central VA.
The concept and engineering behind these cars was very good, and advanced compared to the competition. These have picked up a unfortunate nickname from the animal world, being called “warthogs,” for obvious reasons. My Dad picked up a ’62 Dodge which was much cleaner, if not still a bit oddly styled. It was stripper three speed, Slant Six car, which I named the Pig, for it’s grunting exhaust note.
One of Uncles, who was a Mopar fan, bought a slightly used ’63 Plymouth Sport Fury coupe which I thought was quite good looking. He later replaced that with an 880 sedan. Last time I saw him he was driving a Dodge Magnum coupe, a car that I had always liked. I don’t know what he did during the K car era.
I do like the script on the gauges, that’s unusual and distinctive.
I also agree with Mark Reimer that the dash on the same year Plymouth – and the whole car is more attractive.
But can I just say that a common feature on both cars that would just drive me absolutely nuts is the HUGE ugly speaker grill? I recall the almost as ugly and almost as big speaker grill on my parent’s 61 Plymouth, but at least that was moved up to the top of the dash (behind the dash-mounted rearview mirror). I just couldn’t imagine driving around having that giant thing right in front of me in the 62. It must have been even more insulting in this Dart…which has a radio delete, but still the giant grill (with presumably nothing behind it).
I wonder if big speaker grilles were a common feature at the time. The one in my aunt’s 1961 Olds Dynamic 88 looked like this:
I’ve always liked these cars. The styling is just so way out and exuberant (Exnerberant?). Puts a smile on my face, even when some details just seem peculiar. Like that roof cross-section – low and flat in the centre rising sharply to a curved section just above the doors. Why?
Very popular in sixties Australia as a more rationally-sized American car. We got the big Chevy and Pontiac (Canadian-style Cheviac), and Ford had just stopped selling ’59s in favour of the Compact Fairlane; we never got the ’60-64 big Fords. Then Mopar gave us this, as the Dodge Phoenix; Plymouths weren’t sold here by then.
Naturally CC-in-scale has one, and oh look! It’s purple!
Agree with almost everything you are saying, but one.
Ford Australia did in fact, sell in through its Australian authorised dealers, export RHD 1964 Ford Galaxie 500 4 door sedans and major capital city Ford Dealers such as Melbourne’s Melford Motors sold export RHD 1964 Ford Galaxie 500 4 door pillarless hardtops which were stunningly beautiful cars.
I wasn’t sure of that, so hesitated to mention it. I thought I’d seen one or two around back then, but my memory’s playing tricks these days.
My first car. My only wish was that it had been a two door; however the hardtop styling helped out quite a bit! Still in the family today, although currently non running. 🙂
Give me a much harder to find 4 door pillarless hardtop over the thousands of restored 2 door hardtops any and every day.
This obsession that Americans appear to have with cars only having 2 doors is incredibly difficult to understand. The Pontiac G8 and the later model Chevy SS we’re both regarded as sports cars and they both have 4 doors!
Added to this, in my opinion a real ‘pillarless’ car has to have 4 doors. Some 2 door hardtops like early 1970s Cadillac Eldorados have such small rear quarter windows that the pillarless effect is lost.
Today, finding really nicely restored or maintained 4 door pillarless hardtops of anything is much more challenging than the garden variety 2 door cars.
Give me a real four door pillarless hardtop.
Looking at your photo makes me wonder how useful the side view mirrors were, given that the vent window was a wee bit in the way. Was that ever an issue? Would you have preferred to have eliminated the vent window for better visibility?
Gloriously midcentury, and a fine example! I hope it goes to a good home and appreciative buyer. When I normally think of “midcentury”, I mostly think of architecture (“Googie”). But within the context and presentation in this post, I see a lot of “Googie” in this ’62 Dart that rhymes with buildings of that period – complex geometric shapes and curves, etc. Well shared.
Great design like this mint 62 Dart is always polarizing. Open minded design aficionados get it but unfortunately we’re in the minority. Just so many great curves in this beauty to take in. Fratzog! Such a goofy nonsense term and I love it. On first sight it reminds me of the Ring Laser Gyro used in the aerospace industry. Turns out Dodge resurrected the fratzog for their 2021 Dodge Banshee Charger EV concept. Pretty cool connection.
Below is a closeup of the RLG mentioned above.
It is, I suppose, a form of automotive Dadaism and like the rest of that genre mostly graceless. But there is a thing called Max Wedge and an example would grace my post-lottery win garage…
As a kid liked the Dodge, especially the tail, but the Plymouth was scary. My dad came home for lunch in a ’62 Plymouth city car and I was like ‘what kind of car is that?’. I knew Chevys and Fords, but didn’t see too many ’62 Plymouths.
If they had the 1964-65 looks, the 62’s would have been big hits.
I want no part of the dreary timeline in which the ’62 Dodge had ’64-’65 looks.
I forgot to point out that the top photo, being asymmetrical, is a curious reminder that these cars were being considered with asymmetrical front and rear ends.
“Go drunk, Virgil; you’re home.”
The ’62 Dodge is ugly, but so spectacularly ugly that I kinda like it. Lots of crazy details to see in all of those photos. And any 50-60+ year old car that’s in this good and original shape definitely gets my respect.
Ermagerrrd! It’s a good job this isn’t a 6-cylinder Plymouth, or my teeth would be itching and my wallet would be trying to crawl down lower in my pocket.
This looks like the base 330 model rather than the high-trim 440, a survivor in really nice shape. The engine sounds kinda choppy and rough; probably a competent tune-up would do wonders. Those horizontally-arrayed transmission pushbuttons are ergonomically lousy; much better to stack them more-or-less vertically, as in the Plymouth.
But at least in my mind-movies about it, I wouldn’t kick this car out the garage for its horizontal pushbuttons or its bent-type engine with two superfluous cylinders. It’s got the right number of doors, and that goes a long way.
According to Standard Catalog of American Cars, Darts for 1962 came in 3 series: Dart, Dart 330, and Dart 440. The bottom-of-the-line Dart series lacked rear arm rests, as does this car. Also Dart 330s had Dart 330 scripts; this car just says “Dart” on the side. So I think this is a plain, base-level Dart.
Thanks, SP, you’re right. I trip over that point from time to time.
The odd placement of the high beam headlights in the grill is very evocative of the 1969 Mustang, which looked equally odd when new in my eyes but has aged better. The color of this Dodge is very nice.
I am a couple of days late commenting, but just . . . wow!
I love these unrestored time capsule cars more than any other kind. It is kind of amazing that this one is a V8/auto, as most of these seemed to be stripper 6s with 3 speeds. I just hope someone doesn’t try to turn it into (yet another) Max Wedge clone.
I used to despise these as the ugliest things ever turned out by the US auto industry. Today, I would happily make a home for one of these. One area where I still maintain the same opinion is that all of the individual details make perfect sense and deliver a great aesthetic – it is only when they all come together when things kind of go wrong.
I’ve always been fascinated with the styling of these. That’s not to say that I find them to be beautiful. But every line is interesting. The angles on the grille are especially compelling. Was Exner on acid? The world will never know.