Poison Dart! 1963 Dodge Wagon With 392 Hemi

Todd FitchBy Todd Fitch

This Creamsicle-Orange 1963 Dodge Dart Wagon didn’t come with a 392 cubic inch 1957 Hemi V8, but it’s got one now! The listing here on craigslist in Inland Empire, California details fresh paint, new wheels and interior. Key phases like “Motived Seller,” and “MAKE OFFER” buffer the $19,500 asking price. This listing is also preserved here on craigslist ad saver.

Before Chrysler’s 2005 debut of the 5.7 liter “Hemi, and before the now-legendary 426 cid “Elephant” Street Hemi, Chrysler had a series of equally well-received first-generation engines featuring hemispherical combustion chambers. These early Hemi engines can make prodigious power. No specifications are listed, but if it runs anywhere near as good as it looks, hold onto your hat.

Right, so a Dart wagon may not top anyone’s list of Iconic Automotive Designs, but that makes it even more interesting as an orange-painted home for a fire-breathing Hemi. The seller reports that this project never crossed the finish line due to the owner’s health problems. We hate to hear this, but hopefully someone with similar vision will appreciate the work done and finish it.

The original-looking seats and dashboard wear new color-coordinated upholstery and paint, respectively. The seller reports the car “Runs great,” though apparently not well enough to reach a more photogenic location. In fairness, “runs great” does not rule out a possibly-forgotten detail like “No Brakes.” It’s hard to put a price on a custom creation like this, but if the engine rebuild is documented and dyno-tested, the motor and transmission alone might bring $15,000, and if Dart wagons, or simply unusual body styles, are your thing, this apparently solid and freshly painted and upholstered one indeed may be worth the remaining $4500. What do you think of this high-powered Hemi wagon?

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Comments

  1. canadainmarkseh Member

    It would be very disappointing to get this far into a project and not be able to finish it. I have had some health issues myself and have struggled to keep my project moving forward. I wish the seller well and hope he can get some of his money back out of this car. The work so far looks very well done and if it looks good up close as well I don’t think your gating a bad deal. Wagons have regained some popularity and this one is looking pretty cool.




    31
    • glen

      I hope your health issues improve.
      I’m finding wagons.especially from the 60’s, very appealing




      13
      • DaveMikulec

        I hear ya. I bought my first one, a ’63 Savoy wagon back in 1978. It was my first road-worthy car and I had a blast with it. It only took 37 years to find another. Of course, they’re not in as good of shape as they were back then.

        http://www.therustynuts.com/




        1
  2. sir mike

    Who ever buys this beauty please don’t change the color.




    17
  3. healeydays

    Talk about a great sleeper. It looks like the gentleman has good taste in cars as it looks like a 65 Chevelle in the garage. Other than the color, you could pull up to any cars and coffee event and no one would think twice about the car being anything other than a nice stationwagon. You pop the hood and people will admire this 4 door speedwagon.




    17
  4. Kelso

    I do wonder about how that push button transmission would hold up to the power.




    4
    • Beatnik Bedouin

      Considering that there were pushbutton Torqueflites behind hot 413 and 426 wedges, it might not be an issue. I’m guessing that the builder also slotted an 8 3/4″ rear end on the leaf springs.

      Love the car..!




      13
      • Ed P

        If it is a 727, or the original 488, Torqueflite no problem.




        0
      • Treebeardzz

        Needs a Clutchflite along with the push-button.




        2
  5. Todd Fitch Todd Fitch Staff

    Hello Everyone. I must credit reader Pat L. who spotted this beastly steed and submitted it as a tip. Thanks Pat!




    14
  6. Tom Byrne

    A full pic would be nice!




    2
  7. ccrvtt

    It’s heartbreaking to see so much of the hard work done and the seller having to abandon it. As good as it looks I’m sure there’s still a whole lot left to be done, but still it certainly is a great start.

    Good luck with the sale. Hope it gets completed soon. And with respect.




    8
  8. John M.

    The Hemi will certainly motivate this Dart SW home from the supermarket before the ice cream starts to melt.




    9
  9. angliagt

    Looks like a big Apricot to me –
    a really big,cool Apricot.




    11
  10. Jimmy

    My favorite things about this car is the Hemi, Color, Price. Too bad it’s on the west coast.




    4
  11. Troy s

    This has the element of surprise, be it driving or showing. The eye popping facial expressions once the hood is lifted, most would expect a 318 or maybe a later 340/360, but never an old 392 hemi. Never. Sure it could get up and scoot too and hopefully turn and stop without too much drama. Nothin’ but fun, right?😱




    8
    • Howard A Member

      If you heard this baby roll in, and if you’ve ever heard a vintage hemi, there would be no doubt in my mind what’s under the hood.




      8
      • Troy s

        I don’t know, if I heard it rattling away with a nasty idle and heavy volume I’d be guessing a 413 or 426 wedge figuring someone built it as a period piece hot rod. But due to the size of the car it would seem more reasonable to have a smaller tweaked V8 like the ones I mentioned so I myself would be a bit taken to see the early hemi gleaming under the hood. Crazy machine indeed.




        0
    • Ed P

      I would like to know how he squeezed that wide block hemi into an A body car.




      4
      • PatrickM

        Very carefully.




        4
  12. Doug

    Turning & stopping could be an issue – the original 392 Hemi was a VERY heavy engine !




    5
    • Ed P

      And wide!




      0
      • Craig

        Good thing the spark plugs are on the top of the motor, huh .




        2
  13. hatofpork

    Beautiful build-I’d take this to Pasadena and look for little old ladies….




    0
  14. olerascal

    Looks like majority of spendy stuff is done,
    so I’d say it’s well priced…tho’ limited market
    of folks who like wacky, over-the-top, oddballs,
    & have $20K to spend on a toy.

    Ride height looks adjusted to compensate for 215 lb heavier 392.
    (heavier than 273 used in that era Dart.)
    As much as was likely spent & as well done as it appears,
    seems logical the builder upgraded brakes as well.
    If not, upgrading would be relatively pennies.




    4
    • dweezilaz

      And especially considering a V8 wasn’t even offered in 63. Much work must have been done to the front suspension.




      2
  15. Curly Bill

    The push buttons simply select the gears as required. They have absolutely nothing to do with the strength or durability of the transmission.




    6
    • Ed P

      The 64’s were the last year for push buttons. The 65 cars used the same transmissions with a conventional shift lever.




      1
      • Bill McCoskey

        The ’65 cars had to conform to the new DOT rules for common controls for stuff like trans shifters. Since Chrysler was the only one without the normal lever shifter for the automatics, they had to make the change. So MoPaR simply ran the shifter cable up to the new shift lever on the column, because they were planning on an all new Torqueflite trans for 1966 [the 727] The 65’s were the only year with both cable shift and column lever shifter.




        1
      • Howard

        The 727 was introduced in 1962, and was used behind all of the bigger V8’s, including the max wedges. In 65 it used a conventional shifter instead of the push buttons, but could still be retrofitted to the older cars with the pushbuttons. In 66 they changed the shifting mechanism on trans altogether, but everything else remained the same.




        1
  16. wuzjeepnowsaab

    Wow. That is one well done rod.

    Everything from the seats to the paint to that tire smoking hemi. Get it to stop as fast as it goes and this is a winner for sure!




    6
  17. Brent

    Has anybody else noticed the tiny little master cylinder BEHIND the valve cover? This thing is either a full time- wench it on- push it off- trailer queen or a death trap.




    1
    • dweezilaz

      Brent, that master cylinder looks identical to the one on my 63 Valiant Signet. Un- boosted steering or brakes and a Slant Six with three on the tree.




      2
      • Ed P

        A booster may not fit. It looks awfully tight in there.




        1
    • PatrickM

      Yeah, needs lots of brake work.




      1
  18. cold340t

    From my experience with Darts 68-70’s. It would seem that the steering column isn’t connected. As even with a 340 small block, header/steering linkage clearance is an issue. That beautiful Huge 392 takes up way more space. Bet this “runs great” but can’t be driven yet. Anyone know if it drives?
    Oh, and that tiny Brake cylinder set up………. Will be able to stop? Not with stock brakes it won’t! Still love it though!




    3
  19. dweezilaz

    Parents bought a brand new 63 Dart 270 wagon in beige. 6 and three speed manual.

    These still look good 50 some odd years later. Favorite grille for the generation, besides the 65 Dart.

    Not to take away from the work done here, but they definitely look better with some aluminum trim and brightwork.




    3
  20. Arthur Brown

    Hey hold on there! the 63 dart was the first the first year of an iconic restyle, with the head light surrounds earning it the nickname “Turban Car Dart”. Further it was this style that became the Dodge 50th anniversary edition in ’64 which was the first year dart to offer the 270 ci V8 as an option. A limited number of these were produced and my Dad was lucky enough to buy one of the two allocated to the St.Louis market. and a rocket it was as we found on scout trips where is blew away another dad’s 390 equipped T bird. The caution about brakes should be heeded. The 270 Dart though equipped for any eventuality, still had the standard drum brakes and 4″ wide (!!!) wheel rims. causing my mother to complain that “that crazy car won’t stay pointed in one direction”.




    3
  21. Oliver Felix Rojas

    Awesome engine trans combination. To the right buyer this car might sell for over $10,000 grand




    2
  22. chillymost1

    I bet stopped the project when he realized there is no room for a steering column.




    1
  23. Jimmy Ding

    …other than the steering/brakes issues (which I agree are kind of important…:-)), I love this thing. If you want to pull into a cruise night with something really different and get a crowd around fast, pull in with this thing…I love it…and it must sound like a friggin’ freight train when you fire it up…




    2
  24. Craig M Bryda

    Good thing the spark plugs are on the top of the motor, huh .




    2
  25. Wrong Way

    I am having completely different thoughts than everyone else! I see potential for 2 classics myself! I would finish the car, but I think that I would have to take the motor out put it into something more appealing! Source a correct date code motor for the wagon! Of course, dressing it out as beautiful as this one is and put that gas guzzling motor into something more appropriate for it! The wagon is gorgeous, but I would want to drive it! Who in their stable minds would cruise around in a car with a engine that has quad 4’s on it? That Sunday drive could turn into a whole lot of money fast at today’s gas prices! Just sayin lol




    2
  26. Hide Behind

    There is room for jointed steering column, once squeezed a 392 into a t2 Cranbrook, had to remove long ram cast manifolds for short ones, and build headers.
    Surprising #’ s of these Hemi out there,know Nostalgia drag racer got a long bench of a dozen or more for such racing.
    Those older torque flights were stronger than newer and faster shifting, two pumps not one and with hemi clutches, reverse body.
    Some used push buttons at drags,rear must have good real good scattershield. These darts came with smaller rear end small brakes, and bolt pattern.
    Yes yes , sounds of theses are recognizable blocks away.
    Like em in pre 50 Street sedans.




    1
  27. stillrunners

    Actually push buttons continued on 1965 on B-bodies…..like my old Belvedere




    0
    • Miguel

      Do you have a picture of your dashboard?

      I have never seen a 1965 with the push buttons.

      Thanks




      2
  28. Dickie F

    In the 70s my Dad use to frequent the local Police Auctions. They sold off unclaimed cars found on the street. He often came home with running classics which he then sold off again.
    One day he brought home what I remember as a 57 Plymouth. He had paid what equates to $ 1 for it.
    As my brother and I was only 12 and 13, when Dad was not home, we fired her up and drove the car around the local suburb. She was in really good condition but the fuel crises had hit.
    To our surprise she was a 3 pedal automatic and had a Hemi engine ! So we were really confused when she shifted without the clutch and had lots of power.
    Can’t remember the actual model thou.




    1

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