Something Special? 1973 Dodge Dart

This 1973 Dodge Dart poses an interesting puzzle, and it is one that I’m hoping that our Barn Finds readers may be able to provide some answers to. It is a solid car, and it looks like a bit of mechanical work and a fresh coat of paint would transform it into something pretty special. With an opening bid of a mere $1,500, it also has the potential to be a very affordable project car. You will find the Dart located in Oroville, California, and listed for sale here on eBay.

As a project car, this Dart is a good starting point. There may be a very small spot of rust in the bottom of the quarter panel on the driver’s side, and there is surface corrosion that is apparent from when the car had a vinyl top. Otherwise, the owner says that the floors, frame, rockers, and quarter panels are all solid. Now we get to the first part of the puzzle with this car, which is this badge. I have checked a huge number of different online sources, and I can find no reference to a 1973 Dodge Dart Special. Dodge produced a Dart SE (Special Edition) in 1974, but the badges on that were different to this one. My first thought was that perhaps this is some sort of dealer pack, but I’m just not sure.

The puzzle gets even more complex when we look at the interior. The VIN for this car verifies it as a Dart Base (not a Sport), but the interior doesn’t reflect this. The seats and the door trims look identical to the items used in the 1974 SE, which has really thrown me.  I think that the majority of the interior trim would actually come up quite well with a few days effort and some quality cleaning products, but the dash pad is definitely beyond repair.

Under the hood, we get a mixture of good news and bad news. The good news is that this is a numbers-matching car, so the original 318ci V8 and automatic transmission as still in place. The bad news is that the intake and associated components have been removed, and we don’t know what state the engine is in. Those removed components aren’t lost, as they are all sitting in the trunk, and will go with the vehicle. The car is also fitted with power steering, power brakes, and air conditioning.

So, ever reliable and knowledgeable Barn Finders, what can you tell me about this car? My first thought was that this might be some type of dealer package, but I’m really not sure. Leaving that aside, it really does seem to be a really good project car. Even if the Special badges turn out to be worthless, this would certainly be one very nice car once restored.

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  1. Boatman Member

    Very interesting. I wonder if Mark at Graveyard Carz could sort this mystery out.

    • Jerry Brentnell

      the first question here who cares if its a number matching car! mopar never played the numbers foolishness! and back in the day you could order up a dart any way you wanted !for instance you wanted a chrysler newport 2 door hard top say with a 383 v8 and wouldn’t cough up the money for the optional auto transmission! guess what you got ?a 3 speed standard on the tree! I saw a 66 newport ragtop 383 stick one owner car at a cruise night! why the owner hated automatic transmissions so this is what he ordered!

  2. Dave

    Funny how it has Dart badging when it clearly has a Duster body. Darts were made in 2 and 4 door body styles and were distinctly squarer.
    318s defined ubiquitous in A and E bodies and were capable of pushing these cars to the far end of the speedometer if given enough room.
    Looks like a premium trim Duster to me. Could be a good starting point for a 5.7 Hemi project or a restoration.

    • Calipag

      Check out for a lot of answers for A bodies. They are a great source of knowledge. My son and I are building a 1970 Dart and that site has helped us tremendously.

      With that being said I do believe that the interior is not a factory interior. The Dart Sport was exactly a Duster looking body badged with the Dart sport. I am still new to the A body and I’m sure someone will correct me if I’m wrong.

    • Doug

      Dart Sports used the Duster/Demon body style… not exactly a big secret.

    • John W Rosa

      Dude, the Dart was available as a fastback (previously called Dart Demon), just like the Duster.

    • Degoragon

      Dodge had their own version of the Duster, It was called the “Demon” from 1971-1972, and called the “Dart Sport” from 1973-1976. It was based on the Dart, much like the Plymouth Duster was derived from the Plymouth Valiant. Dodge changed the name in 1973 after protest from Christian groups about the “Demon” name.

      • Dave

        I had forgotten all about that. Wasn’t 1974 the final year for the Barracuda and Dart Sport? I remember that the 360 versions of these ended up as rare birds thanks to the first Arab oil embargo.

      • Joe w

        I remember all the uproar over the Demon name.
        Those were the same people wanting to ban rock music because it was demonic when played backwards.
        Fun people! Haha


      Took over for Demon in ’73. Dusters had recessed side marker lights. Basicly the same ass a “sister” car. Dart Sports are the fastback version of a regular Dart.


        same as not ass

  3. Dave Suton

    Only if it were a Hang 10 edition!

  4. Will Fox

    I guess what concerns me more than anything here, is that you have what could be an otherwise nice property (If maintained) with a junker & garbage sitting smack in the front yard!! What an eye sore!!

  5. Gaspumpchas

    Sure looks honest; cheap buy in and the seller seems to be agreeable to reveal the reserve. This makes it easy as it will let you know if it’s within your budget. Some will divulge the reserve and some wont. Anyhoo this would be a great start for a beginner, either build the 318 or find something else, That’s a bullet proof torqueflite tranny. 4 speed would be cool also. I don’t think you have to worry about the torsion bar anchors under the seat, but here in the rust belt they rust out and you are on the ground, Fixable, Good luck to the new owner!!

  6. Karl

    Its actually NOTHING special – Its just a tired Dart sport that’s been monkeyed with .the “sport” emblems were the same shape as the Swinger “special’ emblems, either the “sport” logo was an inlay over old special emblems and fell off , or more likely, they are just special emblems put on by someone trying to customize his ride . ( I can stick “Demon” emblems on my Duster fender ,but its still a Duster ! )The interior looks like a kids attempt to make his first car look better -aftermarket steering wheel, blankets over the rear seat ,etc. The bucket seats look they came out of a later model car as grey velour wasn’t an option , or maybe they were reupholstered ? As for the console, it could be original, but could have been installed later on in its life ; I remember pulling a console out of our local junkyard back in the 1980’s and putting it in a Scamp – Anything can happen to a car in 46 years !

    • moosie moosie Member

      exactly, who knows whats been fooled with 46 years. p

    • Andy

      The console looks a little too chromey, it looks more 60s to me. The seats look wrong, I think they’re later.

    • Pete in PA

      And Karl hits it outta the park! 100% right on the money.

  7. cold340t

    Meh. 318=0 interest/value. If the auto trans is a 727 and not a 904 trans. That is desirable. A 727 & the rest makes a good donor for same year 340/360 car.

    • Don

      In A body cars the 727s were only available with the 340 , so I’ll bet its still has the original 904 in it.

  8. George

    I had a friend that worked at a Dodge dealership in the 80s. It wasn’t unusual for cars to come through with the wrong badges direct from the factory.

  9. Stephen

    I think this is the rare and unusual Cornbread Edition. This was available as a dealer installed option and you would get a free loaf of cornbread with the car. Interesting but little-known tidbit.

    • moosie moosie Member

      if it were the fruit cake edition I’d buy it.

  10. Victor Anderson

    My first car was a light-pea-green 1973 Dodge Dart with the 225 slant 6 in it, automatic with bench seat in the front and backseat that folded out into the trunk. Slow as a snail — great for 17 year old’s first car though (bedroom on wheels lol).

    • mark houseman

      I had the identical car, color and everything for my first!!! What a coincidence. Bought it from the original owner. Light pea green original paint with NO vinyl top. I put a black bumble bee stripe on it. And it too had the Dart Special badge on it. Wish I still had it.

      • moosie moosie Member

        Huh ? Identical how ? Different color , Vinyl roof ,
        The same but different I guess. Have fun

  11. mike D

    you guys aren’t reading the ad, the seller says the tag says “special” but it is a “sport” personally I can see getting it and putting a crate 360 in it the rest is OK I would have to find the stock steering wheel put back on the body doesn’t look bad would choose a different color though Recaro seats ( do they still make them?) could be a looker

  12. Al Bundy

    Love these cars!

  13. Ken Member

    “Something Special?”

    No. These cars ceased being interesting when the name was changed from Demon to Dart Sport. I’ve had two Demons, and they attracted attention wherever I went, particularly the Green Go ‘71 Demon 340 I had in high school. A buddy of mine had this car, in the same blue color, and nobody noticed it.

  14. Ck

    Dave , I saw a hang 10 edition at the swap meeting in Stafford Springs Connecticut a few years back.It needed work but looked all there .Very Kool car.

  15. John Oliveri

    Cars have histories, maybe it was stolen and the original interior was replaced with a later gut, it’s nothing that special in its current state, buy it cheap, do the body work and dump a nice duster bucket seat interior in it, find a 340, or worst case a 360, and enjoy it, maybe it was special to one of its owners and he wanted to express his Special love for his Dart, who knows

  16. Alexander

    Drove one of these daily while my Honda Civic was in the shop some time around 2014. Friend let me borrow his gold Dart with a slant 6 and factory 4 on the floor with bench seat (!). He put the optional road wheels on it like this Barn Find the car really popped! Lots of comments at the gas station and at stop lights. Trunk was really HUGE too, but shallow. I’ve had a chance to buy a Hang 10 edition…would love one. Great interior fabrics on those.

  17. Gransedan

    All A body bucket seats from ’73 on were identical, thin back rest design, identical pleating, I believe all vinyl on all models except for Valiant Brougham and Dart SE editions which had velour and Dart Hang 10’s which had cloth center sections. The seats in this Dart were most likely simply recovered.


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