Original 383: 1968 Dodge Dart GTS

Sitting in this warehouse is a dusty and dirty Dodge Dart GTS with plenty of potential for its next owner to exploit. It will require a lot of work to return it to its former glory, but it appears that it could be well worth the effort. It seems that I’m not the only person who feels this way because it has generated plenty of interest since it was listed for sale here on eBay. The Dart is located in Norfolk, Virginia, and spirited bidding has pushed the price to $7,900. The reserve has been met, so a new home is just around the corner for this classic.

The Dart is finished in a color that appears to be close to Plum Crazy, but this isn’t the car’s original paint. It seems that when it rolled off the production line, it wore Charger Red as its paint color. The evidence of this change is readily visible in the engine bay, but this might not be a huge issue. I believe that the Dodge will need to be dismantled a fair way if any restoration work is to be performed to a high standard. That means that either completing the color change properly or returning the car to its original Red will be possible at that point. That brings us to the question of rust. On this point, things appear to be quite promising. The lower body extremities and the area around the back window all look to be clean. The owner has crawled around under the vehicle, and the floors and frame rails wear little more than a coating of surface corrosion. However, don’t think that you are getting off scot-free here. There is rust in the driver’s side front shock tower, but it isn’t clear how bad it is. If that is the only rust present, then fixing it might not be difficult. All of the trim and chrome pieces are present, and these could be polished or restored.

When we delve below the surface with this Dart, we strike one of those “good news, bad news” scenarios. The 383ci V8 that resides in the engine bay is numbers-matching, as is the 8¾” Sure Grip rear end. The Dodge rolled off the production line equipped with a 4-speed manual transmission, but this has been swapped for a TorqueFlite. In its original guise, this would have been a fast car. With 300hp on tap, it would have pounded its way through the ¼ mile in 14.7 seconds. The missing transmission is a disappointment, but it isn’t the end of the world. It should be possible to source a date-correct unit if a faithful restoration is the goal. We don’t get any information on the engine’s state, so we need to hope that it does at least turn freely. Judging by the general appearance, I would say that it hasn’t roared into life for a while now.

The interior trim, or what remains of it, is believed to have come from another car. It is a safe thing to say that the buyer will be starting from scratch when they try to whip the interior back into shape. This is a blow because trim kits for Mopar cars aren’t a cheap as they are for others. There will be no change from $2,600 for a kit, and that’s without considering replacing hard items like the wheel and door handles. I’ve said in the past that restoring an interior can seem to be expensive, but it needs to be considered as a one-off expense. If an interior is treated with anything close to care and respect, then there is no reason why it shouldn’t look good in 50-years time.

At face value, this 1968 Dodge Dart GTS shows an enormous amount of promise. If its rust problems are as limited as the owner claims, it should represent a relatively straightforward project. The loss of the original transmission is a blow, but I don’t think it will adversely impact the car’s value too much. That brings us to the question of whether this is a financially viable project. If a date-correct 4-speed can be sourced, then there is no reason why this Dart GTS couldn’t command a value of more than $30,000 with ease once restored. That’s not a high figure, so I suspect that the new owner will need to be prepared to undertake at least some of the basic work themselves. Every penny that can be saved on labor will help this car’s cause. Is it one that you would be prepared to tackle?

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Comments

  1. Steve Clinton

    Bidding is up to $7900. for THIS? I just don’t get it (as I shake my head).

    Like 9
    • Matty

      Over $8k now, but I don’t see it topping ten.
      I wouldn’t go that high with that ratted interior and missing stick, but close.
      These are so hard to find.

      Like 5
      • S

        Are people getting that desperate that they’ll pay any price? The whole interior needs to be redone. $$$!

        Like 2
  2. William

    I would have kept the red. Never understood these. Great cars with a 225 or 318. (not so much with a 170) That heavy big block might have been fun at a street light or drag strip, but not as much going around a tight corner at speed. Plus, too tight to work on. That is why when the E bodies were developed, they designed the engine bays for big blocks (still didn’t help the balance, but easier to work on). They used the dart rear section and but a mid sized frame on the front. That is why they weigh a hundred pounds more then these do

    Like 7
    • Chris M.

      William, you answer your own question in that this car like most any other muscle car from this era were very one dimensional. In that they were designed for straight line performance. “Stop light terrors” as you say and they were great at it. It’s no mystery that from an engineering stand point they weren’t ideal. But I don’t give a damn if it can’t corner at high speeds, give me a big block Dart, Nova, Fairlane any day of the week!!! What I don’t understand is when dudes like you continually attempt to disparage the idea of these cars. It like a “Captain Obvious” moment everytime you bring it up. We know what they were not but we f#ckin love what they were!! Not meant as an attack against you sir I dig /6 and 318s too. Merry Christmas.

      Like 25
      • William

        I guess that is why after I became more financially secure I gravitated towards sports cars. I like an over all well balanced ride. Never owned a muscle car, though I was the demographic these were aimed at when new. I had friends with muscle cars (they were called super cars in the day) and I remember being impressed that I could be thrown back in the passenger seat and couldn’t lean forward under acceleration, but I even then realized it wasn’t for me. Maybe I was spoiled by being introduced to a war time friend of my Fathers who after the war bought a late 40s MG. That is what I wanted. Never got that because family and reality hit before I could do it, but today I have a Miata, and that is where my heart is. This is a big hobby, room for everyone’s likes and dislikes. If you like straight line performance, good for you if it puts a smile on your face, just be careful.

        Like 6
      • Chris M.

        I agree Will.

        Like 2
  3. Cheapskate

    This hobby is getting outrageously expensive.
    The missing transmission and all related component’s will probably add between $3500 – $4000 to the restoration cost. Bummer….

    Like 5
  4. Glenn C. Schwass Member

    I could see the color change even though I hate purple but the tranny swap is just wrong. Do that back to a 4 sp.and a new real none torsion bar suspension and you’re getting there.

    Like 1
  5. Super Glide

    Understand one concept Horsepower to Weight Ratio. I’ll simplify, big engine little car. The value of this car lies in the fact that it’s already set up for a RB 440 magnum, or 440 Six Pack if you prefer.

    When Grand Spaulding Dodge and Nickey Chevrolet were engaged in hand to hand street wars, Darts and Novas were where the heavy artillery was placed for maximum impact. Chargers and Chevelles were nice cars, but why carry the extra weight. Chris M is correct Ford Fairlanes and Falcons were in the fight, least we forget the 427 Comet.

    Of course those were the days when young men dreamed going to Skips on North Ave, near Chicago, on a Saturday night. With either your girl or 2 or 3 buddies. The advice your buddies gave was always bad. A common one was “I don’t see any cops, stand on it”. Today, young males have been neutered and they think Uber is cool.

    Like 11
    • ACZ

      1st and North Avenues on Friday or Saturday night. That was the Van Nuys Blvd. of Chicago back in the day.

      Like 3
    • Lickolotapus

      Super Glide,
      Only Chicago Dinosaur’s remember “Skips”.
      Not all of the members here are 10 million years old, give the youngsters a little background story so they have something to dream about.

      Like 1
  6. roger Steven hatt

    I owned a 68 GTS with a 340, and it ate 383,s and 440,s and just about everything else on the street. 350 Chevs were a joke to race as were 390 Fords. Best 1/4 mile time was 12.56 @ 104 miles/hr.

    Like 3
  7. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    Wow a big block that survived – with original motor – that’s why it’s getting the bids.

    There is a Mopar site that posts missing parts per vin hoping to reunite them to the original car.

    How many Rustangs 390/428’s have we seen lately with it’s original motor ?

    Like 4
  8. David Hunt

    Did sell a 318 dart gt that need lots of love. But gentleman bought and save it
    .was four speed
    Posi

  9. Daniel Blancher

    Oh my what memories, a friend has one and yes it was fast , wasn’t to many losses when racing it.

  10. Paolo

    I have a rebuilt, date code correct A833 sitting on a stand in my, well, it’s actually sitting in my family room right now because… uh, I was test fitting the bell housing and it’s much warmer there than in the garage at the moment.
    I would be willing to divert my transmission from its intended project to install it it in this 68 383 GTS but there I go, talking like a crazy person again.

    Like 1

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