All About That Base: 1960 Dodge Dart Seneca

Scotty GilbertsonBy Scotty Gilbertson

Ok, I know, it’s really “All About That Bass”, but this 1960 Dodge Dart Wagon is the base Seneca model.. and.. well.. yeah. This base beauty is listed on eBay with very spirited bidding and a current bid price of almost $7,500, but the reserve isn’t met. There are four days left to get your bids in. It’s located in Upper Marlboro, Maryland and it looks like one that if you’re on the east coast you could theoretically drive it home.

That’s one big Dart. I think of a Dodge Dart as a much smaller car, which they were starting in 1963, or even in my personal favorite year: 1962. But, in 1960 they were giant cars by even today’s standards, at 18-feet in length – not exactly a car that you can dart through traffic with. The Seneca was the base model for the Dart in its first year, 1960, and also in 1961. The mid-level was known as the Pioneer and the top-trim level was the Phoenix. Whatever happened to cool car names?! I mean, actual name-names, not numbers and letters, like cars are some sort of secret formula known only to nuke’aler physicists? The owner mentions that there is no rust on this car, but that doesn’t mean that it’s in perfect condition. A good paintless dent repair person could probably work wonders on that ding on the tailgate.

For some reason there aren’t any overall photos of the passenger side, which normally would tend to make a person a bit suspicious. But, as the seller seems to be pretty honest and thorough in their description, hopefully the two partial passenger side photos are enough for a person to gauge the condition of the somewhat hidden side. They say that this “wagon runs and drives great, and shows as a presentable straight rust free original”, so it must be all good. As always, unless you just absolutely have to have a particular at any cost, it’s always best to have a local inspection if the seller will agree to that. As was the case more often than not in this era, cars were seemingly almost totally redesigned every single year, at least as far as the look of the exteriors. This whole front end is razor sharp, design-wise, and it looks like it’s in great condition for being older than I am. I wish my grille looked that good. The seller mentions that “the hood and right front fender and doors have been repainted some time ago and have some fading, age crazing and some minor peeling, and there are minor chips, scrapes and bumps on the body, as can be expected of a nearly 60 year old original car.”

Now that’s a steering wheel! Fantastic atomic age piece of art in the form of a sparkle steering wheel right there. The seller mentions surface rust on the floors but no rust-through. That’s pretty heavy surface rust, though, I’d want to make sure that’s solid and then treat it with something asap. The seats appear to be in amazing condition, front and rear, as does the headliner and the rear compartment.

This is Dodge’s Red Ram 318 cubic-inch V8 with 230 hp, which was an option on the Seneca in place of the standard 225 slant-six. At 4,000 pounds, those extra horsepower would sure come in handy for moving this wagon along. This Dart also has a three-speed TorqueFlite automatic instead of a three-speed manual transmission. This was a nice car in its day. I always wonder why buyers upgrade a base model instead of getting the next trim-level up? It has to come down to the price. This car also appears to have a dual-exhaust setup, as seen in the underside photo, but I’m not sure if it would have originally come with dual exhaust? Dual exhaust was available on the 361 as was a four-barrel carburetor but I’m not positive if it was a factory option for the 318? Have any of you owned a Dodge Dart of this era, 1960-1961? How about a wagon?

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Comments

  1. Howard A Member

    My 1st thought on this car, is it may have been a fire chief’s car. The red with white roof and small hub caps is what many fire dept. wagons looked like. I don’t remember many red cars when I was a kid. ( except sporty cars) It’s like people knew red was reserved for the fire dept. and didn’t want to be seen in a fire depts. car ( and all the “where’s the fire” jokes) Great styling and practical, albeit, a little thirsty, but what a nice car.

    9+
  2. DJS

    I’ll pass not my cup of tea,

    0
    • Åger

      Duly noted.

      1+
  3. Dovi65

    Love it!! I usually prefer my cars “loaded with all the niceties”, but lately I’ve begun to appreciate the lesser equipped models. This is one beautiful hunka steel! It would look so nice in my garage

    2+
  4. Sam

    Now that’s a dashboard and steering wheel! Great car!

    5+
    • Howard A Member

      Hi Sam, that steering wheel always reminded me of MIller High Life beer symbol. That rear view mirror was pretty useless, except for the “view ” of someone in the back seat.

      10+
  5. Moparman

    Scotty! At last, someone who appreciates the 62 Dodge Dart! It was my first car, a Dart 440 hardtop given to me by my Dad. I cringed when the one Spencer Tracy drove in “It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” was wrecked; especially since at that time, mine had beeen involved in a T-bone w/ a drunken driver! Learned my first auto body repair on that car, passed it to my brother, who passed it to a sister, and now her son owns it!! 🙂
    BTW: Dad also had a 1960 Matador, which had the same wild steering wheel, and a 361 that would rock your head back under acceleration!!

    9+
    • Ensign Pulver

      My brother had a 61 Seneca in HS. Tailights the size of matchboxes…and reverse fins. It was affectionately named Flea Biscuit. What a hunk of iron and the only females attracted to it were nuns. He now has a long term relationship with a lime green 1960 Belvidere sedan sitting in his garage for almost 15 years

      1+
  6. David

    Nice find, great write up, My 60 Plymouth had a sparkle steering wheel but it was more square. It seems logical that this could indeed have been a fire chief’s car.

    1+
  7. Sam Sharp

    Oh brother. Too bad I’m not closer to this location. My uncle who was in transition from the Army’s pay schedule from major to lite colonel, had a Dart Seneca. He reasoned that what he could option the Seneca with performance wise, outweighed the cost of upgrading to the upscale Darts. In those days, you didn’t have to get the ‘leather wrapped steering wheel convenience lighting group and chrome cigar lighter package’ in order to get the 318 V8 .

    The important part of repositioning from Virginia to ‘Shell-Paso’ was to have a car that could carry his 12 foot Alumacraft boat on the roof rack and still pass 45mph semis that would block the road on Route 66. His Dart had a 3 speed manual transmission that would go 70mph in second gear even with the boat on top. Took a while to do that in a strong headwind. None of his Chrysler products from the 1940’s to his last one in 1978 ever used very much oil, if any, and the Dart returned 20+ mpg without the boat on top.

    The name Dart meant something back then. Aspire, Escape, Lacrosse, Envoy, Escalade, Oompa Loompa, and the Buick Beaulah mean nothing to me. Give me Belevedere, Bel Air, Starfire, Olds 88/98, El Dorado, Rivera, Hawk, Super Hawk, Golden Hawk, Imperial, and I’ll know the car, and what it’s capable of.

    Today’s “Dart” means; many trips to the shop to fix the touch screen, LED lights and driveability problems. If the FIAT engine doesn’t crater first.

    12+
  8. Buddy Ruff

    My fuzzy memory of these Dodges was that you had to have the ignition on to honk the horn. It’s funny what impresses a kid.

    3+
  9. D

    One cool car I wish I could have.

    1+
  10. TomTom

    thats a beautiful and rare vehicle…definitely my cup of tea

    0
  11. Luke Fitzgerald

    Wow – what was once a virtually worthless car – 8 k on the rise – great to see

    3+
  12. 86 Vette Convertible

    One thing I always liked about that era Chrysler products was the push button transmission. Don’t know if it was good or not, just thought it was neat.

    Pretty good example for it’s age.

    2+
  13. PAPERBKWRITER

    I had a ’60 Seneca slant 6 push button and later I bought my wife a ’61 Seneca with a 318, single exhaust. I was never a Mopar guy but when you’re a newlywed and practically broke you can’t be too fussy..They were both in good condition when I got them but both but ugly…I killed the 6 cyl. and she wrecked the ’61. By that time we were back into bow tie small blocks.

    3+
  14. Vaughn Robinson

    In 1960, I bought a new 60 Dart Phoenix D500, 383 dual quad cross ram manifold and doing this on Tuesday, went to Lions Drag Strip and ran in the high 90’s and in the low 14’s. Did a lot of street racing in LA…..rarely got beat.

    0
  15. juan

    I´m not sure about the price but a honest car with (as long I can see in the pictures) no serious rust or bad repairs, just detail it and drive as is (may be a good paint job will help), when was the last tiem you saw one like this?

    1+
  16. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    I like how the white color almost makes the station wagon top almost disappear, revealing an attractive 4 door silhouette.

    0
  17. Greg Yancey

    I had a 1960 4 Door Sedan Seneca as my first ‘married’ car. It had the 225 slant six and it was a darn good automobile that had over 100k on it when I got it. My dad has a bright white 1960 4 door Phoenix Hardtop with the 318 that my mom was afraid to drive cause it was ‘too big’ :)….and our next door neighbor bought a brand new 1960 4 door Phoenix Sedan with the slant six…not sure why but he hated that car (having been a Buick guy all his life I suppose) but he somehow blew up the engine after a year or so, rebuilt it and sold the car. Lots of 1960 Dart history in my memory:)…and oh, I had a 1962 Dart 2 Door Hardtop with a 318 too.

    0

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