Low Mileage Time Capsule: 1974 Dodge Dart

It seems as if certain cars were destined to be collectible and their owners/caretakers knew it long ago. This applies to classics from the depression era but muscle cars from the ’60s figure heavily in this category too. Others invited to the group were big-engined convertibles but compact economy cars? Not so much. What would lead one to save and pamper an economy compact like a ’74 Dodge Dart? Hard to say but for your viewing enjoyment, and thanks to Ikey H.’s dogged determination to uncover some of the best auto examples featured on Barn Finds, we have this Dart to review. It is located in Wooster, Ohio and is available, here on craigslist for $9,250.

This generation of Dodge’s compact was everywhere in the early ’70s. According to Bill Watson at Allpar, about 260K Darts, including Swinger, Sedan, and Sport body styles, were sold in ’74 and 1974 was a double-edged sword. On one hand, buyers were looking for a compact, gas-miser as a salve to the October ’73 Arab Oil Embargo but on the other hand, a resulting recession had occurred so on-the-cheap was in fashion. The Dart gloved both hands.

Our example is a 35K mile time capsule. The Dark Moonstone Poly finish capped off with a beige vinyl top is a perfect ’70s expression. Built on March 8, 1974, this Dart still looks like March of ’74, there is nothing out of place as this Dodge has escaped the ravages of time. The seller doesn’t include any backstory on this car but it has obviously been well stored all of these years. It comes across as a flip, so perhaps the seller bought it from the original owner or the original owner’s estate – just speculation on my part.

The interior of this Dart is in magnificent condition. Sure, the mileage is low but the fabric upholstery is a very light beige hue and there is no sign of dust, dirt, or fade. It is a highback bucket seat environment with a center armrest as opposed to a center console. The carpet, dashboard, door cards, and instrument panel will require no attention. Furthermore, the seller claims that all instruments are in working order. There is an aftermarket radio in place but the seller has the original, working AM unit.

Power is provided by a 150 net HP, 318 CI, “LA” series V8 engine working via an A-904 Torqueflite, three-speed, automatic transmission. The seller suggests that this Dart “runs excellent. This car can be driven anywhere”. I would expect as much, even in desmogged tune, the ChryCo. 318 engine continued to perform admirably.

While this car wouldn’t have garnered a second look back in the day, it stands out in modern times because there are just no cars in production today that are similar. The compact, or “C” segment, is still alive and produced but certainly not in V8, front-engine, RWD architecture. The only issue that arises from this listing is the price, it seems a bit steep for what this car is, low mileage and condition, notwithstanding. Doubtful that I would want to own this Dodge but it certainly deserves a new owner that will continue the excellent upkeep, wouldn’t you agree?

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Comments

  1. Jcs

    Nice Dart, my family had a butterscotch over black 71 Swinger back in the day. 318/2 with a/c. Surprisingly strong runner. That car flat hauled ass, outrunning many an unsuspecting Mustang, Camaro and Firebird. Great car.

    This one is equipped right and looks exceptionally clean, I doubt that it will last long. If I had any room at all at the Inn, I would be on the phone with this guy right now working a deal rather than typing this.

    Like 8
    • Will Irby

      I agree; my father bought a ’74 four-door Dart that was a dealer’s “demonstrator”, so it was loaded with everything available. It was a very nice, comfortable car–metallic dark red/maroon color with black vinyl top and light cream-colored interior. It also looked very unassuming, and with the 318, it was very quick, although the throttle had to be feathered off the line to avoid annihilating the right rear tire with the non-posi rear end. I already had a ’66 Valiant with a 340 and 4-speed when he bought that car; if not for that, I probably would have bought the Dart from him when he sold it. I wouldn’t be surprised if that 318 is still running; they were pretty tough.

      Like 2
  2. Luke Fitzgerald

    Nice car – least you’re not fixing anything

    Like 3
  3. Michael

    The top of the line “Special Edition” made to compete with the BMW’s and Mercedes’ of the time, as well as the Ford Granada and Chevy Concours . lol

    Like 2
  4. Jim

    A very nice sample. Good it isn’t from the next model year, as the emissions equipment that was slapped on the Darts and Valiants made them barely run (speaking with experience).

    I think the price is pretty good for a car in this kind of shape.

    The only thing I notice is that the hood seems to be out of alignment.

    Like 3
  5. Rex Kahrs Member

    I “accidentally” bought a really nice ’73 Dart on ebay some years back. It was a lot like this car, in some gold color, just like one my Dad bought new in ’73. I put a bid of $1000 on it and went to work. When I got home, I’d won the auction.

    So I paid $600 to ship it to Ohio. The car was clean and ran great. Stopped on dime even with 4-wheel drums. My wife thought it wasn’t very sexy. About that time a local high school girl wanted the car, so I sold it to her for $1600.

    Like 11
  6. Keith

    My first car was a 1973 Swinger two door with a 318 auto, no A/C. I bought it back in 1978 for $1,952.00 Back then I was a young Airman in the Air Force and I had to get a loan for the car. I was 17 years old, oh those were the days.

    Like 5
    • Chris

      My first car was a 73 Swinger with a 6 cylinder. I paid $750 for it in 1982.

  7. Bill

    Looks priced right to me in this day and age of classic cars on the rise. I find it amusing the writer assumes it’s a flip and he wouldn’t own it. Sounds like jealousy because he cant afford it. But I guess everyone has an opinion. LOL

    Like 2
    • Jim ODonnell Staff

      “This was a Garage find and a survivor car!” Gee Bill, you think that might have something to do with my “flip” speculation? Affording it? Hardly an issue. Wanting it? No!

      JO

      Like 2
      • Bill

        Sounds like I struck a nerve. Not into articles written from assumptions and stolen pictures. Hopefully the owner doesnt sue this site for copyright infringement.

        Like 1
      • Jim ODonnell Staff

        Good to know, I wouldn’t want you to get into trouble viewing “stolen” pictures or being a party, as a defendant, to a copyright infringement conspiracy.

        So long.

        Like 5
  8. Mitch Ross Member

    Super rare 2 door SE. Even when new you only saw 4 doors. Valiant version was called the Brougham.

    Like 3
  9. Shingo

    I had forgotten how late the “add on looking” factory A/C was still around.

    Like 1
    • Boatman Member

      And boy, that hanging Airtemp unit was COLD!

  10. Miguel

    I still drive mine.

    This is a very rare V8 automatic air car in a country when almost all of the Darts were slant 6’s.

    By the way it just turned over from 99,999 KM to 00,000 KM so the car is new again with 1,700 KM original.

    Like 6
    • Dave Peterson

      I salute your ongoing diligence. Do I detect AMC wheels and rings? Or did American Motors source them from Chrysler?

      • Phil D

        Neither one, Dave Peterson. AMC, Chrysler (Plymouth, Dodge, & Chrysler), Ford (Ford & Mercury), and GM (Chevrolet & Oldsmobile) all sourced those Magnum 500 wheels from their manufacturer, Kelsey-Hayes.

        Some were painted, some were chromed, some used trim rings, and some did not, but regardless of how they were trimmed out, as far as the number of makes and models on which they appeared, the Magnum 500 was the most widely used wheel in modern automotive history.

  11. DON

    I may be mistaken , but I’m sure the seats have reupholstered . I know some had cloth seats, and 95 % of them had vinyl, , but I’ve never seen an A body with velour seats.

    Like 1
    • S

      Yes, they had it on the Special Edition.

      Like 6
    • Gransedan

      All A body premium trim level cars, Dart SE and Valiant Brougham, had velour upholstery only and exclusively.

      Like 3
    • Will Irby

      Our ’74 Dart SE had cloth brocade seats, which were much cooler than the more common vinyl seats. Oh, by “cooler”, I only meant cooler in terms of temperature on a hot day.

      Like 2
  12. S

    These cars are great – and this car has everything going for it! This is the top of the line model that year – the Special Edition. It was also the first year the SE was introduced. It’s a 2 door hardtop with a V8. It’s also not a big car so it’s manageable. Great styling. Great options (a/c, power steering, power brakes). Low mileage. Great color combination. Bucket seats!! There’s nothing not to like here! The price is slightly high but not outrageous. Ppl pay more for V8 hardtop Darts that are slightly older and are restored. This is an original car with 35K miles – better than restored! This should be preserved. Someone’s going to get a nice car!

    Like 2
  13. ICEMAN from Winnipeg

    Darts, Dusters and Volares were everywhere in Winnipeg in the 70s, well into the early 90s.

  14. Dorian Bolick

    I’m a sucker for color keyed hubcaps!

    Like 1
    • Phil Detweiler

      The color-keyed wheel covers were unique to the Valiant Brougham/Dart Special Edition models. Those models were offered in a very limited palate of colors, so it was practical to have matching wheel covers.

      Like 3
  15. Ron Niemzyk

    I had this car’s twin, a Valiant Brougham. Same color, interior, 318. Traded it for a 76 Volare coupe, 2 tone yellow and gold with white buckets. Loved both of those cars.

    Like 2
  16. James

    Dealer in my hometown had a 71 V-8, great condition, but he priced it like a Mustang Shelby, so I had to pass.

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