Thursday, July 22, 2010
Daly City Street Sighting - 1966 Dodge Dart GT
1966 was a transitional year for a number of Chrysler Corporation's cars. It marked the transformation from weird to awesome. Since the late 1950s, Chrysler was getting really strange. Massive fins gave way to swoopy bodies with unusual design features like backwards vestigial fins and oddly-shaped beltlines. The Dodge Dart came out in 1960 as a midsize car, then shrank after the disastrous 1962 redesign in which Chrysler discovered that making big cars look small isn't the same as making small cars. Especially when those cars were horribly overstyled. The road back to a normal-looking product line was long and by 1966, things were getting pretty good. Some cars got some pretty sweet, all-new sheetmetal, like the new Coronet-based Charger fastback muscle car. Others, though, like the bread-and-butter Dart, lingered with mild facelifts on bodies introduced in 1963. A totally restyled Dart would arrive for 1967, but until then, buyers had to live with this. The Dart shared a platform and most mechanicals with its Plymouth sibling, the Valiant. Unlike the '66 Valiant, though, the Dart has some character in its design. If you wanted a Valiant with character back in '66, you bought a Barracuda.
This particular example is a Dart GT two-door hardtop coupe, the top sporty model. It has one of the more interesting "GT" badges I've seen. Not often that you see both letters in vastly different typefaces. This one probably pulls its weight with a 273 cubic inch V8, which would be more fitting for a sport model than the slant six. The orange peel-filled paint job is definitely not original and was probably sprayed by Maaco for super cheap. As can be seen up close, the shop didn't even remove the badges and did a poor job of masking around them. Likewise, the wheels are not original either. The body is pretty straight (though it's a good bet Bondo was involved in some quantity). The grille is pretty much toast. Such is life for a classic car whose owner can't afford a Barrett-Jackson concours restoration. It probably sounds all right and gives its owner relatively dependable transportation, and for many people that's all that matters.