With the end of the year fast approaching, I’m reviewing my older photo files and just found this immaculate ’64 Dart. Neither an exciting first year model, nor equipped with special features, it’s a perfect Curbside Classic.
The ’64 Dart came as a 2 or 4 door sedan, a 2 door hardtop, a station wagon or convertible. You could also purchase it in one of three trim levels, 170, 270 or GT. However, the 2 door sedan only came as a 170 or 270.
Since the 270 included a “270” badge on the C-Pillar, this Fratzog tells us it’s a 170. What’s a Fratzog? Wikipedia explains:
“Dodge’s logo from September 1962 through 1981 was a fractured deltoid composed of stylized arrowheads forming a three-pointed star. The logo first appeared on the 1962 Polara 500 and the mid-year 1962 Custom 880. One of its designers came up with the meaningless name Fratzog, which ultimately stuck. As the Dodge Division’s logo, Fratzog was incorporated in various badges and emblems on Dodge vehicles.”
This rear view emphasizes the poverty spec aspects of the 170 trim level- No reverse lights (still optional in ’64, they would be federally mandated for 1968), no trim panel between the tail lights, and a cheap stamped “Dodge” nameplate instead of a die-cast chrome Fratzog. You can also see one of the few owner modifications I spotted- extended shackles on the rear of the leaf springs, probably to compensate for sag.
Used to be folks mounted extended shackles to move the body up and provide clearance for taller or wider rear tires, but this rear shot shows the ride height remains normal. It’s rare to see a car of this vintage with wheel covers and whitewalls, but I’m old enough to remember when all the cars at my Dad’s office looked just like this.
Looking closely at the hood, you may see some wear and defects, along with some dents and nicks to the chrome trim. If the paint isn’t original, it’s been in place for many years. The “U” shaped trim is correct for a 170 model, but the hood ornament is either a factory option or (more likely) an additional owner modification.
The ’63 and ’64 share sheet metal, but the Dodge designers stole a page from the Ford playbook and changed the ’63 concave grille into a convex grille in ’64. It worked on the very successful ’61 Falcon, so why not? On a side note, I’m completely amazed by the condition of that grille- Despite fifty years of use, it’s almost perfect!
That hood ornament may have been factory installed, but this side marker light certainly isn’t. Maker lights weren’t mandated until 1968, when Chrysler started using cute little bulls-eye lights rather than this large wart. The light also looks more English than American, another mark against its authenticity.
Sure enough, I found a matching picture of an MGB replacement lamp on the Moss Motor site. I’m guessing the owner chose this marker light for ease of installation, since British Leyland didn’t bother to integrate US marker lights into the sheet metal. Instead, they punched a hole in the fender for the wires to pass through and bolted them flush to the panel- Just like our Dodge.
I’m not sure the seat covers are original, but the rest of the interior appears to be vintage 1964. While you can’t see the push button transmission controls, the lack of any lever on the steering column or transmission tunnel tells you it must be there- ’64 marked the last year for the “Phone Button” transmission controller (and the first year for LA V-8 in a Dart). I’m betting this car packs a 225 Slant six, but without any engine badges, there’s no telling.
The license frames tell another piece of this Dodge’s story. The front frame reads “Moothart Chrysler Plymouth/Since 1934,” and the rear frame adds “Lakewood” (California). If this car spent time at Moothart’s Lakewood location, it would have been as a used car, since they were located in Compton, California when this car was new. Moothart continues on today as Cerritos Chrysler Jeep on the west side of Long Beach.
Just for fun, I found a picture of the original location, complete with a couple “Forward Look” cars parked out front:
Need more A-body in your day? Here’s a couple more postings on the’64 Dart:
One of Paul’s excellent Dodge Dart auto-biographies
Ed Stembridge taking a Dart road trip
What a sweetheart.
It brings to mind a fellow I know who is a car guy and dreams of having a 1968 Hemi Dart clone. However he has no old car on the road, his dream is an impossible one. I’d much rather have something like this that you could actually own and enjoy.
Neat Wonder what the sticker price and likely selling price would have been on this base model with automatic?
According to The Encyclopedia Of American Cars, this model started at just under $2000. Adding a radio and automatic transmission added a few hundred dollars to that price. My guess would be it was $2500 before transportation fees.
BTW, this model ( just the 2 door sedan) was Dodge’s best seller add all 170 models you have about 80,000 sold. All Dart models together sold in higher numbers than any other Dodge model.
The $2,500 price adjusted for inflation works out to $20,742.58 if you bought this car 2019.
Nice car. Like most Mopar guys, I like the post-1967 A-Bodys better but that its such a nice, original car.
If it was a 273, there would be a V8 emblem on the fenders so its a /6
Sweet Dart! The 67 Plymouth wheelcovers don’t look bad on it. But those reupholstered seats in a completely wrong shade of green look awful!
I love the fratzog. Wouldn’t that be a great retro touch on the modern Charger?
The wheelcovers, combined with the Plymouth hood ornament, makes this look like a Canadian Plodge.
It’s interesting how much better the two-door Dart sedan looked than its Valiant cousin. It makes some sense that the Chrysler stylists made the Valiant sedan look stodgy while the Dart comes off with a cleaner look to be able to charge a higher price for the Dodge. But, then, I suppose if you wanted a good-looking Plymouth A-body, there was always the Barracuda. Making the Dart better looking than the Valiant was surely intentional as a way to placate irate Dodge dealers for not getting a ponycar until 1970.
It’s also worth noting that, back in the good old days, car companies had no problem not only stamping out unique sheetmetal for cars with identical platforms and drivetrains, they also went to the trouble and expense of designing a unique dash and instrument cluster. By the end of the A-body’s run, the only difference between them would be the grille and taillights.
Hate to burst your bubble, but the bottom rung Valiant, when you combine all the bodystyles, edged past this Dodge by a few thousand units.
Oh, I didn’t mean to say the Dart 2-door sedan sold better; it just looked better. For the lower price, the Valiant 2-door sedan would represent a better value.
The license plate number seems late for a 1964. My parents’ ‘64 Volvo, which came to the US from overseas delivery in late September 1964 was MLT001 and my own first car, a ‘65 Volvo, was NKX129 (I’ve reached that age when I don’t remember where I’ve put my phone or glasses, but remember the license number of almost every car I’ve owned). But perhaps Southern California got the O’s before the Bay Area. Or maybe this was a dealer car that got registered later in 1965.
It’s worth noting that the word ‘fratzog’ means…nothing. The story goes that it was just something an engineer made up so that the new Dodge emblem had a name. I guess it makes sense since most other auto marques have an emblem more readily identifiable like a rocket, ship, crossed-flags, or just its basic shape (bowtie, blue oval, etc).
That’s a handsome car! I wonder if the center of steering hub proclaimed that it was Dodge’s 50th anniversary as I’ve seen on other ‘64 Dodges.
Didn’t know reverse lights were not mandatory until ‘68, thought it was by the mid sixties- boy car makers sure took their time with safety related measures on their own.
I prefer the ‘63 grill. I think it was wise that The Dart tried to look different than the Valiant, longer wheelbase (expect wagons), different roof lines. Too bad the Dart wasn’t equipped with15” wheels like the ‘61-‘63 Pontiac Tempest/LeMans.
I miss living on the west coast where seeing a time capsule like this (especially ‘60’s American compacts) was much more likely than here in the rust belt, although I did see a ‘64 Dart in remarkable condition around 3 months ago here in Chicago.
There is a 63 or 64 Dart in the town that I live in. It looks like it is frozen in time at about 1973 as it is jacked up in the back, and has an odd two-tone paint job. The lower part of the car (rockers, and that “sweepline” up over the rear wheelwell) is painted a semi-gloss black with the rest of the car a non factory gold color.
Never see it long enough to tell if it has a 6 or V8, 2 door or 4.
“I prefer the ‘63 grill”
To me the ’63 and ’64 are a toss up- They’re both interesting and dynamic, just in different ways.
The ’65, however, is a tragedy. Flat, plain, boring, cheap.
Agreed. Seems like ‘someone’ at Dodge (maybe Dodge general manager, M.C. Patterson) was really into the pie-plate emphasis on dual headlights which was most prominent on the truck division’s products.
But by 1965, the fad seemed to have run its course and Dodge front end styling was going in a different direction. Throughout most of the sixties, Dodge and Plymouth seemed to flip-flop each year with the ‘dumbell’ style of grille work. As one might expect with the typical chaotic Chrysler management style, it was very inconsistant not only between divisions, but between model lines, as well.
When I was looking at buying the Dirty Dart (which is a ’65), the author of the Allpar.com buyer’s guide claimed that he preferred the ’65 to the rest of the early Darts. Although I don’t really have a preference among the ’63-’65 models (I haven’t warmed up to the squared off ’66), I guess I never saw the ’65 as a step down, let alone a tragedy. Different strokes… Here’s a link to the Dart Buyer’s Guide on Allpar if anyone’s interested.
(With foot in mouth) Oh, ahh… yeah, um-
The ’65 clip looks best on the wagon body? 😉 D/S
Don’t get me wrong, the wagon is definitely in the “so ugly it’s cool” category…I just never considered that it might be uglier than the others! 🙂
It looks like the Dart in your pictures is Medium Turquoise like mine (well, mine is Medium Turquoise and peeling clearcoat and light rust), and it’s really grown on me; it’s certainly a nice color on that ’64.
Unpopular opinion, I prefer the boxy 66 nose to them all. I never could fall in love with the pie plates in any application, these, the turbine car, the D series trucks etc.
Some pie-plates weren’t so bad (like the Darts). But others (like the trucks and the downsized ’62 Plymouth), well…
Never liked the pie plates, then or now. I they look particularly bad on Mopars with quad headlights, with only the outer headlights having said pie plates.
Compared with the Corvair and Falcon-derived variants from the competition, the Dodge A100 pie-plate van actually looked okay.
Rambler half agreed with you…
Rambler did flat better than Dodge.
Last year for the PB Torqueflite makes this special to me. At a younger age, I always liked that feature. You could shift without removing your right hand from around your date. As a soldier when these were still common, I hated retaking conquered territory.
Regarding the license plate frame, I have heard that vintage license plate frames are kind of a popular accessory for classic cars. So it’s also a possibility that the owner of this Dart simply bought these frames on eBay and they have nothing to do with the car’s history.
Does it count as the CC effect that I spotted this car’s cousin, a similar time capsule mid-60s Valiant, up here in NorCal a few weeks ago? It also had an old black California license plate like this Dart, although I don’t recall any frame.
For a base model, this looks to have a surprising amount of chrome trim. There’s quite a bit the money guys could have stripped off without it looking cheap. I’m impressed. And does anyone else think that rear side window looks too small for the size of the car? It could have been three or four inches longer to give the rear passengers a better view out and still maintain that ‘prestige’ thick-pillar look.
I think it has been slightly modified. According to photos on ‘oldcarbrochures.com’ the chrome side window trim came on the 270 models, and the wheel lip trim was not offered on the ’63 or ’64’s, but it was on the ’65’s. The wheels appear to have been upgraded to 14 inchers as well.
Back in the early to mid seventies when I worked at numerous used car lots these and Valiants were very common. They were pretty bulletproof. I had a ’63 270 two door very similar to the featured car. I did a cheap engine rebuild with lots of help from a friend. It had power steering, which was very unusual and I think the only one I ever saw from that era. I was a good car, but I did not hold on to them long back then. My grandparents last car was a ’65 170 four door, and they passed it down to my sister for her first car. It served her well for a few years until she upgraded? to a new Pinto.
I heard the original round side marker lights were called “Nader Eyes”.
I doubt it, but I certainly could be wrong and I’m curious where you heard this.
What a nice original car. Grandpa’s ’65 Belvedere was the same color, so very mid-sixties. It makes sense that this Dodge would have been sold as a used car a few years later at a Chrysler-Plymouth dealer.
There was a Fratzog in the middle of my steering wheel on my 74 Dart. I think this photo is one I saved from CC previously. Cool story, thanks for posting.
That photo of the later A-body instrument cluster always reminds me of how Chrysler finally got around to filling the wasted real estate under the temperature and fuel gauges with the seat belt and other (forget what it was) warning lights.
I remember that color of Dart—in fact, it’s a dead ringer for the one owned by a family friend back in the day (though hers came from Earle Ike Dodge in Inglewood).
As for the OQA license plate—our ’64 Falcon wagon, bought in May of that year, wore California plate OQC 592, so this Dart was probably sold a few weeks before that.
Very nice find. That hood ornament is perfectly placed for bumping into a pedestrian and then having the body fold over onto the hood and impale them as they come down vertically on top of it it… 🙂
I always heard that the fratzog represented three missiles facing outward. Chrysler built lots of them, starting with the Jupiter IRBM.
Didn’t someone else have that emblem with three pics of actual missiles? I can’t for the life of me recall who it was. May not have even been a car company (maybe pens, like the Fisher Space Pen?).
Off track, but I have to ask of the unusually-named Mr Moothart, what was a “Direct Factory Dealer”? I know advertising standards then were more flexible than a double-jointed yoga teacher, but, what, did other dealers get their cars from parts suppliers and assemble them?
My best guess is “Direct Factory Dealer” translates to “Franchised Chrysler dealership.”
The intent would be to differentiate themselves from both “Buy here Pay here” used car lots, and independent service facilities. Even now, new car dealers promote themselves as the best place to get your new car serviced with “genuine factory parts.”
Hey, nifty! Largely original oldies like this are a vanishing breed.
You’ve done one of the things that makes me love this site: shown me a new perspective on something at the junction of two things I know a lot about. I’ve spent many years scrutinising, taking apart, putting together, owning, driving, and writing about A-body Mopars and every kind of vehicle light including side markers—in general and these ones in particular—but although I’ve noodled at length on what lamps I’d use to retrofit one of these cars (don’t judge me! I can quit whenever I want!), the idea of these markers on one of these cars never occurred to me. These are Lucas L824 front side marker lights as installed on Jaguars, MGs, and numerous other British cars across a wide bunch of years.
Whoever installed them either chose well at random or put some careful thought into it; they came in a large variety of lens angles and degree of protrusion from the base, to cater for a large range of horizontal rake angles to the mount surface while orientating the light and retroreflector correctly with their axes perpendicular to the vehicle’s longitudinal axis, not looking up, down, ahead, or behind. These on the car appear to be chosen correctly for where they’re mounted.
The next question is how they’re hooked up. The owner might have connected them across parking light/ground, which would make them work just fine as side marker lights; they’d come on at the first click of the headlight switch with the parking, tail, licence, and dashboard lights. But then they’d turn back off again at the second click of the switch—most pre-’68 US cars turned the parkers off when the headlamps came on. There’s a fairly easy modification at the headlamp switch connector to keep the parkers lit with the headlamps, but not a whole lot of people know or care to do it.
Or maybe they’re connected across turn signal/ground, then they function only as side turn signal repeaters, not as side marker lights.
Perhaps they’re connected across tail light/ground, then they work fine as side marker lights with and without the headlamps.
If the installer was really a hep, with-it cat, they would have connected them across turn/tail (or done the headlamp switch connector mod and then connected the lights across turn/park) so they function as side markers _and_ turn signal repeaters as described here.
Who can’t see the transmission pushbuttons? They’re right there in your pic! I see three of ’em: Reverse, Drive, and 2. Neutral is missing—that’s pretty common, on account of throwing the park lever _pulls_ the Neutral button from behind; over the years the metal fork loses its grip on the plastic button and then the button falls out behind the dash, often to be found under the driver’s seat. I’ve never seen or heard anyone call them “phone buttons”—typewriter, poke-the-panel, trash-on-the-dash, push-and-hope, sure, but never phone buttons. Is that yours?
That hood ornament never left the factory on a Dart anywhen near ’64; I think the first stand-up hood ornament on a Dart came on the Special Edition of ’74
You’re right that reversing lamps became mandatory for ’68, but they effectively became standard equipment for ’66; see here.
I’ve always preferred 4-door cars, but I like the double-angle trailing edge of the quarter glass on the ’63-’66 Dart 2-doors. I’ve often wondered what if this kind of quarter glass shape had been incorporated into the 4-door cars, but my photoshoop skills aren’t good enough to mock it up. They look terrific on the wagons, though (see attached; builder’s thread here)
There are at least two of these wagons in existence. One built as a Barracuda, the other as a Valiant. The Barracuda is red with 4 speed, the Valiant is white. You can see the Valiant in the January issue of Hemmings Classic Car.
That “Barracuda” wagon is actually a ’64 Canadian Valiant wagon with a ’64-’65 Barracuda grill—nice car, tho it doesn’t have the double-angle glass. The white one is a ’65 Valiant (the one I showed). Both cars are owner-built.
” I’ve never seen or heard anyone call them “phone buttons”—typewriter, poke-the-panel, trash-on-the-dash, push-and-hope, sure, but never phone buttons. Is that yours?”
I guess it is now, but it might be something I picked up somewhere in the past. I’ll talk to my Mopar buddy when I see him over Christmas, and see if it came from him.
“I’ve often wondered what if this kind of quarter glass shape had been incorporated into the 4-door cars, but my photoshoop skills aren’t good enough to mock it up.”
I put one together off an internet photo. A body man could certainly weld in the fill panel, but I think the two piece window and the door cut lines spoil the effect.
Your photochop skills are obvs better than mine. this isn’t quite what I had in mind; I was thinking more like a rear door window with a vertical trailing edge mating up with the vertical leading edge of a full-size quarter glass from a 2-door (eating into the C-pillar/sail panel).
Nice car. Like the round tail lights over the oval jobbies Dodge put on the Darts in ’65. With the prominent round headlights, the smaller round tail lights tie the design together nicely.
Why is it that a car that probably sold to a matronly individual that likely held it into her dotage fascinates me now. Wonderful car, and amazingly well trimmed if it is a low spec series. Just the right amount of gingerbread.
My grandmother had a 1962 Buick Special Wagon. I could easily see this car suiting her just as well. Her previous car had been a 1956 Buick Special hardtop coupe, so she obviously cross shopped body styles. My grandmother was a very petite woman, likely not the only woman to appreciate the “Compacts” of the early 1960s.
I like that you said that the first logo was seen at the mid-year 1962. My father told me earlier that he was hoping to find a classic dashboard replacement for his 1964 Dodge, and he asked if I had any idea what would be the best option to find. Thanks to this helpful article, I’ll be sure to tell him that he can consult a trusted dash pads and interior parts store for more American-made car accessories.