Curbside Classic- 1964 Dodge Dart 2 Door Sedan

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

Paul with a thorough look at Dodge Dart design