Rising From The Ashes: 1961 Dodge Dart Phoenix Convertible

Fresh from a 30+ year sleep in storage, this 1961 Dodge Dart Phoenix is located in Klamath Falls, in beautiful but somewhat remote south-central Oregon. It’s listed here on Craigslist with an asking price of $14,000. Thanks to Wayne A. for this find!

The early Darts were marketed as “America’s first fine economy car” – although “economy” referred only to price and not size. By 1963 the Dart would shrink to the familiar smaller A-body platform, but in ’61 the term”compact” was not a word often spoken in Detroit. Indeed, this car would be classified as an “intermediate” in that era, and a really big car by today’s standards. Given it’s size and the polarizing styling, it’s easy to see why very few of these have survived, especially a convertible.  That makes this find somewhat unique.

While it seems that almost every other old car today is marketed as a “Barn Find” (often with obviously staged photo shoots), the lack of lower body rust on this car lends credence to that claim.  I always cringe when I see a unibody car lifted up by a forklift, although it looks as though someone at least tried to add some wood bracing. Hopefully, there wasn’t any damage resulting.

More evidence supporting the barn find claim can be found in the interior – the hard parts look well-preserved while soft parts appear to have been home to decades of furry critters. The steering wheel and dash look great and have escaped the sun damage typical with early 60’s plastics.

The top appears surprisingly intact as well. No photos or description of the drivetrain are given, although these top-of-the-line Phoenix convertibles would have had either the 318, 361 or 383 V8. Of course, the seller notes it ran when parked. The mighty Cross-Ram D-500 dual quad induction system was an option on these, which would make this a very valuable find.  Someone added hood pins at some point in this car’s life, and armchair collectors can always dream that means something very powerful lurks under the hood. Or maybe just the hood latch broke.

The faded Arizona license plate may be another indication as to why this car is so rust-free. The body also looks very straight and most (but not all) of the trim appears accounted for. With an asking price of $14,000, this would not be an entry-level project but similarly restored convertibles have drawn good prices at auctions recently. The seller notes he has a drone video of the car seeing its first light in 30 years. Would you be up to adding the polish to this Mad Men-era Mopar gem?

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  1. Bobby

    Could be a really nice classic but will take some major bucks. These cars in running driving condition selling from 10000 average condition to 35000 restored. I think the asking price on this one is 3-4 thousand to much. I’m sure some one will pay the sellers price but I can’t see it unless its a labor of love.

  2. Alexander

    I like the looks of some of the other vintage steel sitting in the background. Olds vista cruiser wagon with stripes in particular, 68 Impala convertible, 70 Cadillac.

  3. Bob C.

    These were like the Anti Impala. A little ambitious on the price, though.

  4. Ben T. Spanner

    My Father bought a brand new 1960 Dart convertible which had much more mainstream styling. The standard engine was a 318 4bbl. The build qaulity was even worse than his 1958 Plymouth convertible.
    He ordered a 1962 Dosge 880 ( Chyrsler with a Dodge nose) convertible: blue top,paint and interior. It came in with blue paint, but black top and interior. The dealer called the factory and they confiirmed the sales material said blue top/interior availble, but all were blue cars got black. My Father switched to Pontiac that day.

  5. theGasHole

    So what’s the cage like thing on the front seat with dials on it?
    These are uber rare in convertible form, I’ve only see one, ever. Styling is definitely polarizing, though it works for me. $14k is a big buy-in price though.

    • George

      The heater core is plugged, so they added in a plug in heater.

      • theGasHole

        Thanks George! I was scratching my head on that one.

  6. XMA0891

    Neat car! I have never seen one.
    One would really stand out on the car show circuit pulling into the lot with this rig.
    Hope someone saves it.

  7. Nick

    Should be on ebay or a mopar forum, someone will grab it and save it then. I agree the price is ambitious, though.

  8. Alexander

    Anyone notice the convertible top currently on this car has a rear window smaller than stock? Gives it almost a Carson-like appearance in all white. Someone really loved this car decades ago. The cars in the background are amazing too. Currently Craigslist is not showing “more ads from this seller.”

  9. Mountainwoodie

    Interesting and not often seen convertible version. But again….if you want crazy money for a car, clean it up. I mean come on! Thats said, seems to be some interesting iron in that yard and in that “barn”.

    I want to meet the buyer at 14 K. I have a bridge…….

  10. Will Fox

    $14K would be more for a `61 Polara cvt. in this shape; not the low-line Dart. A cold beer says it’s a 318 V8; most common engine available. If it were a D500 383 with long cross-rams, you could easily TRIPLE this asking price, if not more.

  11. Gary

    I like this one. Not really sure why. But I do.

  12. Mike

    I wonder if showing pictures of it not cleaned up and parking it in a junk yard would affect the price or take longer to sell?

  13. dr fine

    The Dart Phoenix Elvis drove in Blue Hawaii was a knockout beauty. It leap from a dead stop, eliciting squeals from teenage girl passengers. Mopar’s didn’t look like mainstream GM and Fomoco’s, but Hollywood found them beautiful. In Lover Come Back, Doris Day looked stunning in a white 1961 Fury. To find one of those steering wheels in good shape is like finding a white whale.

  14. Karguy James

    There is one of these two blocks from my shop in the original owner’s garage in beautiful original condition. Medium blue with a white convertible top and blue interior and 50k miles. I’ve tried to buy it several times but owner says he is giving it to his grandson to use as transpiration up in New Jersey when he turns 16. I’ve even offered to buy the kid a Honda. Grand dad won’t let me speak to him. :(

    • dr fine

      Please don’t let it end up with a kid in New Jersey!

  15. John D.

    I did not see a picture of the engine so I opened the craigs list ad. It did not show an engine picture and did not mention what engine and what intake system it has. I think the Dodge D500 or the long cross rams are wishful thinking of commenters.

  16. DRV

    I’ve never seen the convert of this and it is crazy cool! Drawing this thing up in the studio must have involved some kind of mind expanding drug!

  17. Lawyer George

    Are you insane? $3500 max.

    • Karguy James

      I would give $6k for that in a heart beat.

  18. Burger

    Were the car a D500, in any form, it would be wearing a “star”-shaped badge between the left tail light and parking light, denoting the up-option being present.

    There is a black/red interior example with the correct ram-induction AND 3-onda-tree transmission for sale these days on the interweb. The asking price was somewhere around $20K and it has not sold for a long time.

  19. Miguel

    This car is going to need a lot of work and there are no parts available.

    Whoever buys it had better know what they are getting in to.

  20. Hide Behind

    My gramps bought one of these brand new to drive from N. H to Wa. State, he got 5 tickets total on way across ; two in Cali, first for speeding 85 in 50, and the other for driving too slow, he took northern route back home.
    It was a D500 with auto.
    In school at time, he offered it to me for $ 2200, what he owed, for plane ticket home or I buy_ride-drive and return home.
    Only had 7-800 and $100 51 Pontiac 4 door and folks said no way.
    I got to drive a few times. dates and cruise to beach, and impressed the heck out of bubblegum girls and pimpled faced boyfriends, with impressive burnouts.
    Quality control was lacking as wind howl around doors and windows above 50 drowned out AM radio, but once moving it took a long time to brake; no cornering by keeping up It’s R’s and releasing brakes to let go at apex.
    Lots still around, in Oly is a wagon and nearby a hardtop redone.
    Do not know why but at cruise and events their unique style catch looky-loo eyes, and ones with long ram 383 and Carter A F B quads a great attention getter.
    Yes lifting these or any larger unibody
    by a forklift is a dumb as rock trick and p,,s poor advertising point.
    Fair price for parts and time to until just roadworthy, resale profits barely there??¿¿¿
    Neat project if Chrysler Motors Collector.

  21. stillrunners

    Dang…thought that was a Sonaram badge on the fender – like Elvis car…its close…still a hard to find convert….bet it goes across the block at that auction in a few years….

  22. Del

    Rare car. Rust free ? Get real.

    Not worth 2 grand.

    Cannot even list engine ?

    Watch out for Hanta virus from rodents.

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