CC Capsule: 1968 Dodge Dart – Nicest I’ve Seen

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Writing a full-CC on the Dart would be difficult given all that’s already been said about them on these pages. The sheer number of A-bodies we’ve managed to find is a real testament to the fact that they’re tough little buggers.  Still, it’s rare that you see one in this sort of condition, especially in sedan form.

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Call them dowdy all you like, the 67-75 A-body sedans were some of the most attractive, timeless “compacts” ever. If early Accords and Datsun 510s are classy, and if contemporary Benzes defined elegance, these are up there. The muscle car era decal on the decklid doesn’t spoil the effect either; nothing like straight lines and big windows on a four-door.

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Up close, there are some signs of a sloppy re-do. For as smooth and the paint is, there is some overspray on the chrome trim. Looking at the inside, you see the same problem, only with the blue vinyl paint used on the upholstery. Surprising given the attention to detail seen elsewhere on the car.

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It’s a sign of Chrysler’s bi-polarity that these were sold alongside the Fuselage cars of the early ’70s, and my love of both shapes is a testament to my own tendency toward extreme thinking. Give me curves or give me straight lines; don’t mess around.

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Of course, Chrysler did mess around with revised versions of the car; they still looked good, but the initial versions with the blocky rear end were the most cohesive.  Even still, later versions avoided looking as plain as all but the most fully-optioned Coronets, Polaras and Monacos.  That was not so good for sales of those more profitable cars, but still beneficial to me; since fate has handed me yet another white classic, I’m lucky it’s one with such a well-defined shape.  I don’t think a Dart Demon would look as nice in this color, nor would a Chevy II or a Falcon.

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Perhaps it’s just preparation for my ultimate sedan-in-white, a ’91 Legacy Turbo.  This unlikely substitute for that early ’90s curiosity was similarly known for its above-average driving experience and I’m pretty sure it’s used as a daily, at least during the warm months.  And compared to a Chevy II, with its two-speed automatic, it’s a much more practical proposition (also reportedly more up to modern expectations than a Falcon), and a great attention-getter.

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Looking a bit more expensive than their rivals, with more modern powertrain components, it’s easy to see why these were so popular (and easy to find now).  In fact, Dodge sold more Darts than Plymouth sold Valiants in 1968, with the bigger proportion of sales going to higher-trim Dart 270s (which this car is not), so buyers felt comfortable buying upmarket variants.  And, if you combine Valiant and Dart sales (about 283k units), they outnumber Falcon and Comet sales (at about 210k) and Chevy II and Corvair sales (216k).  By keeping his or her car so presentable, the owner of this particular Dart provides a living testament to what was so right about these cars.  I honestly can’t think of a better classic American to (eventually) replace my Civic; make mine a 1970 Valiant Signet four-door with the 318 and Airtemp.

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Related reading:

Curbside Classic: 1968 Plymouth Valiant Two Hundred – One Mean-Looking Compact

Curbside Classic: 1968 Dodge Dart – “Which Old Folks Remember As A POS”

CC Outtake: 1968 Plymouth Valiant Signet – The Drug Runner