Nicest One Left? 1973 Dodge Dart Custom

Despite having new front bumpers to meet federal regulations for 1973, this 1973 Dodge Dart Custom is really looking sharp. The ’73s also had a new grille, front fenders, hood, and more. The seller has this Dart posted here on craigslist in beautiful Phoenix, Arizona where I should have moved after high school. Sorry, I had to get that in again. They’re asking $6,995 and it looks like a winner. Let’s check it out.

For some reason, there isn’t an overall photo of the passenger side of this ’73 Dart but in the detailed photos that they posted, it looks great. The whole car looks really nice, much nicer than a 48-year-old car really should look, and nicer than a lot of 48-year-old people look. I mean, you were thinking that anyway, I had to say it. The hot Arizona sun has baked the paint on the roof a bit, however.

The seller doesn’t show us any detailed photos of the roof but you can clearly see that the roof needs some help and some paint. I don’t know if the rest of the car has been repainted or not but they say that it’s “finished in its original light tan exterior” which I’m assuming means that it has its original paint. I’d touch up the roof and you’d have an absolute jewel on your hands. And a bonus: the 1973 Darts still had the cool small bumpers with integrated tail and brake lights. In 1974, they would get the visual beatdown of having giant 5-mph bumpers to match the giant front bumpers that were required in 1973.

The interior is beautiful. I don’t know if the seats are original and I’m guessing that they aren’t – I don’t know if the Dart would have offered fabric like that in 1973 – but they seem to match the era of the car and they look perfect. The Custom was a high trim level so maybe it could be original factory seat fabric? If so, I haven’t seen it before. The headliner has a couple of issues but the dash pad seems to be there to prevent cracking, not to cover up cracks as the dash looks perfect to me. That’s good news.

The engine looks great and it’s the famous Leaning Tower of Power, a 225 slant-six which had 105 hp in this era. They say that it starts and drives great and the three-speed TorqueFlite automatic transmission works great, too. Factory AC is something that I never saw growing up in the upper Midwest in a car like a Dodge Dart and this one blows cold. Have any of you owned a four-door Dart sedan of this era?

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Comments

  1. Ike Onick

    I owned an exact copy of this car in the mid-1970’s and I have yet to find a better air-conditioning system. “Ice-cold” is an understatement.

    Like 13
    • mike

      I remember the days when my Dad would tell me to never leave the AC on max setting for very long otherwise the system would freeze up. Reading through the owners manual in my 2020 Ford Fusion it reads that I need to set it on max setting to get the coolest air possible. AC went downhill when the R5 freon got banned and replaced with R134.

      Like 10
      • Terrry

        That was R12 freon that got 86’ed.

        Like 9
  2. Jim in FL

    I really enjoy these. Used to be everywhere in the 70s and now very few left. With the ac, this could almost be a daily driver. I say it’s a nice price. Good inexpensive way to get into the hobby with a car that will draw attention because “hey my brother/dad/babysitter had one of these.”

    Love the rear view. Unmistakable for anything else. By the way, these look awesome with surf racks and a couple boards up top. My old neighbor had a friend who drove one of these over from the mainland every weekend to surf with is. And this was in 2004.

    Like 10
  3. PETE W.

    The car your 8th grade science teacher drove to school. No wonder she died a spinster.

    Like 5
    • Ike Onick

      But you would be surprised how she spent her weekends!

      Like 18
    • Christopher Gentry

      May be a custom. My grandfather had a 73 dart custom. Same color , did have the trim on the fenders and body side molding. No vinyl top. His was a 318 cream puff. As far as this cars originality. I’ll stay out of it. But the trim and top may have been options. I do totally agree about the seats. His and my 73 swinger both had vinyl with cloth inserts. That’s as posh as I’ve ever seen in this era Dart. By the way I’m looking now at a photo of my grandfather standing next to his circa 1984. So I’m certain of the trim and top. My swinger dud have a vinyl top , but sure wish it didn’t. Time I got it in 89 it was coming off in sheets.

      • AnthonyD

        As I mentioned already on this thread, I used to sell these cars. The base 2 door model was called Dart Swinger Special, and the deluxe model was called Dart Swinger. The base 4 door model was called Dart Sedan, and the deluxe model was called Dart Custom. An automatic transmission was an extra cost option on any model. But on the Dart Custom and Dart Swinger, you could purchase a package of items that included a free automatic transmission. So just about every Dart Custom 4 door and Dart Swinger was ordered with that package because of the free automatic, and rarely would you see a Custom without the package items. I don’t remember all the items in that package, but I think it included a vinyl top, body side and wheel lip mouldings, vinyl seats with adjustable head rests, AM FM radio, 3 speed wipers, deluxe wheel covers, carpeting, rear defroster, and the free automatic. This is why I believe that if this car was in fact born a Dart Custom, then over the years it lost it’s vinyl top and body mouldings and deluxe vinyl seating for whatever reason. Then someone installed these mismatched seats, and some of it it was re painted by someone’s brother in law out in his backyard. This car is not what the seller suggests it is, nor does it warrant the praise given by the author of this review. Buyer beware.

        Like 2
  4. Mikeh

    This is the same car that Dennis Weaver drove in the movie, “Duel”, when pursued by a crazy man in an old tanker truck across the Arizona desert. Weaver’s was green, like 90% of the Darts, and it didn’t have A/C. Just something I remembered while admiring this Dart.

    Like 7
    • mikeh

      Guess my memory isn’t what it used to be. After further review, it was a Plymouth Valiant, in red. Also the desert was in California.
      Oh well.

      Like 11
      • Terrry

        What kind of tanker truck did the bad guy have?

        Like 4
      • Howard A Member

        1955 Peterbilt 281.

        Like 11
    • George Louis

      Dennis Weaver drove a 1970/71 Valiant four-door sedan in the Movie Duel. The front bumper on this 1973 Dart four-door is the same bumper used for model years 1973 thru /76 Dodge Darts, Swingers, Sports, Hang Tens, The bumper guards. The front seat material is not Factory Correct for the 1973 Model Year.

      Like 5
  5. Terrry

    I think you’re right about the seats. I never did see any of these without vinyl. Some did have cloth inserts but that’s as far as the “non-vinyl” went.

    Like 5
    • AnthonyD

      If I remember correctly, most ’73 Darts had vinyl seats with the mandatory adjustable headrests, and the basic cloth seats were highback seats instead of headrests These seats are definitely not the originals. Gotta wonder why they were replaced? High mileage maybe? I don’t think the paint on this car is original either. The front fender does not match the door at all, and I’m sure it’s been replaced somewhere along the line….especially if the car was originally from up north. The front fenders all rusted out within 2 years on these cars. Hopefully a potential buyer would first do an in person inspection. For $6995, I would expect originality in a car like this, otherwise what’s the attraction?

      Like 4
  6. Howard A Member

    I keep reminding Scotty, AZ. is no Shangrila, and the oppressive heat limits your activities as much as the cold does. Seems you can always warm up, but heat just does me in.. Year ’round bugs, know the A/C repair person by 1st name, I read, if it wasn’t for A/C, that place wouldn’t exist,,,
    Anyway, sorry, as far as collectible status on this car, not much, but if you want a decent car, fully capable for todays travel, you simply can’t go wrong here. This is obviously some little grandmas car, she barely used, I see it all the time at our local Walmart. I looked at a ’63 Caddy, that had an ORIGINAL 2,200 miles. The guy, I was told, bought it new, and never left town, so it does happen. Great find, going to be issues, but easily, be the last car you’ll ever need to buy.

    Like 10
  7. Jim

    These were great little cars until 1975 when they slapped the smog equipment on them. This one looks to be very nice, though the upholstery is not original.

    Like 3
  8. Harvey Member

    Gramps 🚗

    Like 1
  9. Car Nut Tacoma

    Nice looking Dart. I remember cars like this from when I was a boy. A neighbour of mine had one. Theirs was a Swinger 2 door. Some cars look good with impact-absorbing bumpers, while others look tacky with them. It depends on how they’re installed. Assuming everything works like they should, and it’s all original, and not molested in any way, I think it’s worth the $6,995 asking price, maybe more than that. I hope it goes to a good owner, one who will take care of it while also enjoying it. :)

    Like 3
    • AnthonyD

      Not all original. Wrong seats…visible re paint work front fender(s). Who knows what else is not original. Why no mention of miles on this car? Maybe because it’s not all original.

      Like 2
      • Car Nut Tacoma

        I’m sure the tires have been replaced many times throughout its existence life.

        Like 1
  10. ICEMAN from Winnipeg

    These were the official working mans’ car of Winnipeg in the 1970s through the 1980s. It seemed as though every second car of the road was a Dart or Valiant, and later, Volare and Aspen.

    Like 2
  11. AnthonyD

    I used to sell these. Grandma used to love how good you could see out the back window. Those seats are definitely not original, and they don’t look good in this car either And they did a poor job matching the color of the new front fenders and hood to the rest of the car. That’s why they don’t show a good side view. I really don’t see what the attraction is with this car…no where near as nice as the author suggests IMO. Not worth $6995 either.

    Like 3
  12. Cav427

    Needs a 1970 Spec 340 or bigger. On a side not the Plymouth Valiant, Scamp and Gremlin were the General Purpose High School Car in the 80’s for those that worked. Direct Connection did have performance upgrades for the slant six, a cam, intake manifold and I even think Cylinder heads in the 80’s.

    Like 1
  13. Johnny

    Nice little car in good shape. Parts are cheap,easy to work on,. Easy on gas,rides comfortable. I drove a cab like this in 1973. . The storys ,money and TRADING I done in it. I,d rather have this car then any new one coming off the assembly line today. Alot more dependable too and alot more car for the money. Alot less to maintain too. This car you can work on yourself and don,t have to take it to a garage and pay their outrageous prices.

    Like 5
  14. NJ Driver 54

    My first car- a blue Dart sedan with a black vinly top , blue cloth seats & an AM radio with automatic & Slant 6. It had no AC but it had two black boxes under the dash that had doors that could be opened for fresh air. Looking back I should have had gotten a Dart with AC. The original tires were so awful that the tire dealer would not sell replacement ones! I think that the ones with AC had better quality tires coming off the line.Too bad the re-introduced Dart did not do well. Perhaps with a better engine/transmission combo and a new other than Dart it may have sold more. it shoiuld have named Polaris or Fury {I know it was a Plymouth name. instead

  15. Rich

    Seats are not original. Family had a bullet proof 1974 Valiant with the slant six. Being from Northeast, A/C wasn’t even considered.

    Like 1
  16. steve

    Never a Chrysler fan. Nope..BUT..a slant 6 and a 727 Torqeflite? Keep SOME oil and coolant in it and point it where you need to go. Those engines never did much but would do it for a LOOOOOONG time.
    Keep a spare ignition ballast resistor in the glove box and you can drive it to the moon.
    Computer chip shortage? No problem here!

    Like 10
  17. Car Nut Tacoma

    1970-76 Dodge Dart, 4 door, 3.7 slant six engine. It’d make an awesome taxicab, even today. The only things I’d do to upgrade the car would be to install a Garmin navi computer and a reverse vision camera. Other than that, I’d keep it as stock as possible.

  18. Moparman Member

    “Keep a spare ignition ballast resistor in the glove box” LOL! People ALWAYS say this, but in 40+ years of driving Mopars, I’ve only had ONE to go bad, and that was in my 2nd year of driving them! I guess I’d better place one in the glovebox….just in case!!! :-)
    BTW: Although this seems to be a nice car, it is by NO MEANS “a high trim level”. GLWTS!! :-)

    Like 4
    • AnthonyD

      I think there were two models…Dart, and Dart Custom. Very little difference. But the Custom could be ordered with a package of options, and that package included the more comfortable vinyl seats with headrests, and a free automatic transmission. I gotta say, this car looks like the basic model Dart to me. I seem to remember the Custom having body side moldings, and wheel lip moldings. I think a vinyl top was included in that package as well. This car is not what the seller is representing it as IMO.

      Like 1
  19. S

    The seats have been recovered. That is not an original Dart interior. It would have been all vinyl or cloth and vinyl. Is there paint damage to the roof, around the edge of the back window, and the upper edge of the quarter panel? Or is that a reflection? I see brown there which looks like surface rust to me, but I could be mistaken.

    Like 1
    • AnthonyD

      Thanks S. And I thought is was just me! This car is as phony as a $3 bill. Buyer beware.

      Like 1
      • Car Nut Tacoma

        Even if the car was real, it’s most likely been modified at some point. Since I’ve never owned an early 70s Dodge Dart, I don’t know what came with the car. Still, if this car came with a vinyl roof, I don’t see it on this car. Whoever last owned the car must’ve removed it, and done a poor job at it.

  20. CHUCK KIRBY

    ballast resistors were a major problem for me..had a 71 that just ate them at least every six months…

  21. jwaltb

    Can we stop with the “ nicest one left?” headline on mostly POS cars? Dart is not a POS, but you can be pretty sure there’s a nicer one to be found. But K cars, Vegas, Colonnades, etc. were crap when built and are crap now.
    JMO…

    Like 2
  22. Chris Londish Member

    I look under the bonnet and I see a 1967 Australian Valiant and the dash is the same as the 69 model so retro

    Like 1
  23. Christopher Gentry

    More I look at those seats , more certain their totally wrong. Look like they fold forward ? Perhaps thier from a latter dart sport ? In 48 years some one MAY considered that a straight swap “update” if it had vinyl in Phonex I wouldn’t blame em.

  24. Gransedan

    A solid bench, split back with armrest seat was optional on the Dart custom, not available on a base Dart. The base Dart did have a solid bench and backrest, high backrest seat, though, as standard.
    The Dart Custom would have also had wheel opening trim. Those items seem to have gone missing with the repaint on this one.

    Like 2
  25. George Mattar

    I live in the Pocono Mountains and just got back from a cruise night with our 73 Corvette. A 73 Dart with 27,000 actual miles was there. The owner just got it in New Jersey. Way cleaner than this one. But he paid $8,000 for it. His is gold and 100 percent as it left a Chrysler plant 48 years ago. Slant 6. Had one in my grandma’s 63 Savoy. Drove that car to college and all over tens of thousands of miles back in the late 70s. Ran waste oil in it. Never broke. It rusted. So what. Kept on ticking. No stupid computer chips. No dumb check engine light. And I could fix it myself. Life in 2021 sucks donkey dick.

    Like 2
  26. David G

    Letter H as the second VIN character indicates high trim level, so this is definitely a Dart Custom. Wood insert on door panels and split back bench seat are standard on the Custom. As others have mentioned, the cloth inserts are not original to the car. Great car, only thing I would like to see different is a 318 engine instead of the six.

    Like 1
    • AnthonyD

      If this is a Dart Custom, then the exterior chrome accents (wheel lip openings) were removed during repaints. This car is nothing close to what the author suggests. The pictures show different shades of light tan, an amateurish repaint(s), and the interior is NOT original. And no mention of mileage. “Nicest one left”? C’mon Bar Finds…you’re better than this.

  27. George Louis

    The free Automatic transmission marketing special was offered for the 1970 and ’71 Model years. This 1973 Model did not have a vinyl top on it. A lot of people ordered 4 door customs without vinyl tops.

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