The Pioneer: 1960 Dodge Dart

1960 Dodge Dart

We love looking at cars from the past and examining how they have evolved over the years. While most cars have very little if nothing to do with their predecessors, it is still interesting to seet how a particular car’s style and technology improved and adapted to the market. When we came across this 1960 Dodge Dart here on eBay, we hadn’t really given the evolution of the Dart much thought. When we think of the Dart, the first image that comes to mind is the budget muscle car of the ’70s, but before it was tearing up the quarter mile its predecessors were laying the ground work for its image as an affordable yet sporty car.

1960 Dodge Dart interior

In 1957 Dodge unveiled the Dart prototype, which had been penned by Carrozzeria Ghia, but little of that design made it to the production car. The design that made it to the showroom floors was still quite attractive and looked more like a Lincoln or Cadillac than a Dodge. While it was a real looker, the Dart was designed to be a car for budget conscious buyers. It replaced the Plymouth as the entry level car in the Dodge dealer’s network, but offered more features at a lower price point. It proved to be a huge success and easily outsold Dodge’s upmarket full-size cars. The styling might not speak to everyone, but after looking at Dodge’s earlier bland products it is easy to see why buyers were excited about this finned machine.

Dodge Dart Rust Spot

This car was pulled from a barn in Pennsylvania where it had been parked for nearly 30 years. Coming from a very wet climate, it is in rough shape with some major rust. The seller claims it is solid underneath and that they have replacement metal for the exterior along with some other extra parts. We would want to inspect it closely for ourselves though as there is likely even more serious rust hiding underneath. Remember cars rust from the inside out, not the other way around.

1960 Dodge Dart motor

Even before the Muscle car era, you could get the Dart with some serious power. The base car came with a slant six, but V8 options ranged from a 318 up to a 383 (the 383 wasn’t added until late ’60). This car came with the 230 horsepower 318 and the seller claims it turns freely. While we would rather have the 361 or 383, we would take the 318. It offered decent power and can be tuned relatively easily. Being a Poly-head motor means it has some hidden potential that could be unlocked simply by swapping the carburetor and exhaust.

Dodge Dart Pioneer

This Dart is going to be a labor of love, but boy would it be a fun car to cruise around in. It isn’t something you see every day and has styling that would compete with something considerably more expensive. Given the condition, we aren’t sure about the seller’s asking price of $3k, but hopefully they would accept considerably less. If nothing else, this has been a good chance to take a look back at the Dart and how it how it evolved into a pavement thumping muscle car of the ’70s. If this were your Dart, what would you do with it?

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Comments

  1. John D

    I would restore the body and the interior. I may choose a custom interior from an upholster rather than paying to replicate the original materials. For the engine, well there is where I’d have fun and locate a dual quad intake manifold, a heartier cam, and maybe some tri y headers. The wheels would require some thought and research to see what fits and what was popular at the time. Chrysler wires?

    Like 1
    • Paul Patterson

      I have received a 1960 Dodge Dart like the one picture from my grandfather who was the original owner. It is in poor shape and doesn’t run but has been in my fathers garage for 40 years. Can you direct me to find how much this car may be worth. It is a settlement from a death and the value has to be split. Help if possible, thank you for you time, Paul

  2. Bill J

    Its beautiful!! Even with the rust its nicer than today’s generic jelly bean shaped vehicles. if I had the bodyman’s talents I’d be all over it!

    Like 3
  3. William H

    I’d have to research the car some more to see what the value might be restored. I’m imagining they’re not high demand/high value so I’d upgrade the drivetrain and suspension to something modern, put in a nice custom/modern interior and take the body back to basically stock. Looks like it would be a fun project and you’d end up with something very unique. Most people probably wouldn’t even know what it was.

  4. C Bryant

    Some of these replaced the 59 Chevy patrol cars with 348s in them in the Nebraska Highway Patrol back in 1960.I kinda’ think they had a few with the short ram or long ram duel 4 barrel carb set-up on them but for sure the 61s that the patrol had ordered had the set-up on them.When they went out into private hands,they were the hot one to get your hands on.They totally ran like stink.

  5. Elizabeth

    I love the shape of this car!
    And I think the wheel is gorgeous (if that’s possible ).

    Like 1
  6. DT

    I also love the shape,its cooler than the Batmobile , a guy where I used to live had one of these with a floor shift,and a sport package with guages,and buckets,rusty,but restored there would be none of this hemin and hawing

  7. geomechs geomechs Member

    I certainly like the ’60 Dodge; Chrysler toned the fins down just enough to make the car very appealing. I don’t know what happened in ’61 except that someone in design must’ve started drinking their own bath water.

    Like 2
    • Joe Howell

      Or sharing a drink with Timothy Leary.

      Like 1
  8. Ray Pittam

    I have to really laugh and cry with this one. My wife had one of these in perfect shape, Clean as a new one and ran just as good. new tires, Everything. We were Happy to get rid of it with it’s slant head six cylinder engine for $500.00 cash.This was in 1984. It is really funny how stupid people have became in these past twenty years. I go out and buy cars for what they are truly worth. I have a beautiful 1992 Cadillac Touring Coupe that needs some Motor work done because of One cylinder lost compression. The Car is beautiful and For Sale for $650.00, And that is in Happy Valley, California. We just junked a beautiful Cadillac 1970 Deville for $450.00. I can buy a 1982 Avanti for only $6500.00, and everyone else is wanting $12,000.00 + for junk ones. Pure Stupidity. This one runs and is ready to go.

  9. Rick

    This old Barn Find Dodge reminds of the old Gomer Pyle TV series, in particular the episode where Sgt. Carter has to go out of town and entrusts Gomer with his mint ’60 Pioneer Coupe. Naturally Gomer somehow loses the car – it gets stolen, but Gomer ultimately finds it parked on a side street; however, moments later a wrecking ball is dropped on it and flattens it (somehow the thief had left it parked under a piece of demolition equipment) Of course it all ends happily when Sgt. Carter’s insurance company replaces his Dodge with a brand new ’66 Chrysler Newport.

    • Rick

      The replacement car is a 1966 Dodge Coronet. Not a Chrysler Newport.

  10. Jim-Bob

    The Polysphere 318 is an odd animal. As for tuning it, that would be nearly impossible as no one makes aftermarket parts for it. It shouldn’t be confused with the much better known 318, which was from the LA engine series (273/318/340/360). That one is indeed easy to tune with plenty of aftermarket support. If it were mine, I would opt for a B wedge 400 as they were made in large numbers and there is still a hope of one day finding one in a U Pull It. Hook it to a pushbutton 727 Torqueflite (because…push button shifting!), try to sort the brakes and suspension the best you can and then drive it like it has no brakes. ANY car in reasonable condition from the last 30 years will out stop it and wind up with a 1960 Dodge shoved up it’s rear if it stops short in front of you. Maybe there is an easy later factory brake upgrade for these, but I can’t imagine it would have much aftermarket support due to the lack of popularity.

    I would also consider an aftermarket add on overdrive like those sold by Gear Vendors. Either that or a set of conservative gears, like maybe a 2.73. It’s never going to be fast due to the size and weight, but then again this car really isn’t about that. It’s about sitting back, relaxing and letting a big wave of torque waft you along. Build the engine for low to mid range power, with a spread bore carb (like a Carter AVS), keep your foot out of it and you may even see 18-20 mpg on the highway. As bad as that may seem to someone like me who spends a lot of seat time in a 3 cylinder Metro, it really isn’t all that bad when you look at the SUVs most people drive today.

    • William

      I had a new 1960 Dodge Dart Seneca 2 dr. The brakes were advertised as total contact. They were right, once you hit the brakes, the shoes stayed in contact with the drums. I was replacing shoes every 9000 miles.( I lived in a large city with lots of stop and start driving.) I went to a junk yard and got the faceplates from a 1956 dodge. They were the old anchor pin type. From then on I got between 35K and 40K miles on brake shoes. The original brakes worked fine on paper, but with a little dust in the web, they wouldn’t release.

    • Dwain Trimble

      I have a 60 pioneer 2 dr, 318 poly, there are a lot of aftermarket parts. Including 4 barrel intakes, high performance cams, electronic ignitions,ect… even headers. So just take sometime and look around,. Save the car and do a resto mod rod.

      Like 1
      • Jeff Burling

        Dwain where are you located? Would you reach out to me?

  11. paul

    These were a dime a dozen & got sold cheep & crushed later on, now after all these years it’s cool to see these at the auctions all redone. As all the American cars of the era, fins chrome,the year to year big design changes, it is fun for me to see these again. I like this one very much.

    Like 1
  12. Steve

    My dad bought a 1960 Dodge Dart Seneca Station Wagon new. With the /6. I was 10 at the time. It was the car that got me interested in Mopars and still own them.

    Like 1
  13. Han

    I love the shape of this Dart, but I cannot remember having ever seen one over here in Holland. Chevys and Fords were rather common, often even used as taxi’s. I was Born in 1951 and have always been a car nut , collecting newspaper clippings and writing to car importeurs for brochures and pins….still have them!
    One thing I do clearly remember is that these full size US cars dwarfed the Fiats, Renaults, Simcas, Opels,,VWs and the like in those days.

    Like 1
  14. Barzini

    I am of an age where this car should look more familiar to me than it does. I just don’t remember seeing many of these in the late 1960s and 1970s. I hope this car gets restored.

  15. orphanwillysguy

    still so ugly that only a step-mom might like it. what were they thinking? Good thing would be if it rusts in peace.

    • Raymond F Pittam

      Orphanwillysguy, I would like to invite you to look at my web site. http://www.mtshastaophanclassicsgroup.shutterfly.com, I can put you in touch with all kinds of people you just might enjoy. Steve Elkis is the former President of a Willys Club International.

    • Ed P

      Orphan, if you think this car is ugly, try looking at a ’59 Chevy.

      Like 1
  16. Raymond F Pittam

    It just goes to show how stupid some people are. he probably likes a tin can Mustang. Put them out on a 275 mile track and see which one comes in first. I would rather have a dodge than most any other car of that era, Except the Studebaker. I would take a Hawk over any of the American cars of that day. I just happened to be a race Driver back in those days and Came in Fifth on Pikes Peeks July 4 Th Climb in a Dodge Coronet .

  17. Scott Allison

    SOLD!!! Winning bid: US $1,826.00
    Someone got a deal!

    Like 1
  18. Chris A.

    Sort of reminds me of the movie car “Christine” but that was a Plymouth Fury. Sold fairly, but a lot of work ahead just ot get it on the street.

  19. ConservativesDefeated

    Somebody scored! The way we used to buy cars for next to nothing. Its beautiful. Keep the interior and put the car back as it came from the factory. Drive an American Original, .not a restomod bastardized by some thirty year old who grew up on eighties garbage!

    Christ people lets bastardize K cars and leave the good stuff to those that get it. Sure hope the buyer thinks like me!

  20. Pat K

    I had one of these in the mid 60’s. Loved it. The automatic transmissions had problems.

  21. Skip Middleton

    I did landscape work for an elderly woman when I was in high school who had one of these. She had to go to LA from San Diego every couple of months and paid me to do the Driving Miss Daisy thing in that clunker. Considering that it was only 9 years old at the time, it seemed much older than that…

  22. Dave W.

    1960 Dodge Dart Seneca was my first car in 1967. Slant six, three on the tree. That car was bullet proof. Buried the speedo many times on roller coaster road.

    Like 1
  23. Paul

    Any idea how much a 1960 dodge dart slant 6 3 on the tree is worth. Body in decent shape, doesn’t run, but been in storage unit for over 20 years now. How much would you estimate it’s worth.

    • Jesse Staff

      Send in some photos Paul and we can post it here on the site and let our readers chime in with their opinions. Thanks!

    • Leiv S.

      I found one good runner for $4500 in February 2016.. No rust – ready to drive. Old restoration still nice. Not show car but nice driver. Slant six and push button automatic. All works. 4 Doors but as I said – really nice ride..

  24. gunningbar

    Beautiful!

  25. MoparMajik

    I’ve got a Dart Seneca (1960) which had been sitting in the same spot beside a barn for many years in a very small town in Alabama. I was able to locate the second owner and purchase the car for $700. After installing a hot battery, fresh gas, airing up the tires, and bleeding the brakes, I was actually able to drive the car home (about 35 miles). Since then, the old Dodge has been totally rebuilt. It looks and drives like a new one and has won many trophies and awards. It’s a 2-door sedan with a slant 6 and a 3-speed manual transmission.It has wide whites, Phoenix 3-bar spinner hubcaps, skirts and is painted “Blaze-Yellow” with an “Ivory” roof. It’s a great driver and gets lots of looks.

    Like 1
  26. Chuck

    I bought a new 1960 Dodge Dart Pioneer. It was red and white hard top convertible. Loved it. Paid $3168. Was the best car I ever owned. I did not have any mechanical problems. Now, I wish I had it back. Please email me if you have one. Thanks.

  27. Charlie G

    I received my 1960 Dodge Dart Seneca 4dr Hdtp from my grandfather over 30 years ago, but wound up selling it to pay for my divorce fees. I hated to let it go. It had the newer 225 Slant 6 with the pushbutton Torqueflite. Back in 1974, I helped my grandfather replace the rusted out front fenders with a pair I found in a North Dakota boneyard located a few miles from my airbase. Then hauled them all the way back to Illinois. Anyway, for all of you that have the 318, does it overheat time after time no matter what you do? It’s a design and casting flaw within the block discovered by Chrysler back in 1969 (yep, it took them almost 10 years and numerous engine replacements to figure it out). I also owned my mothers 1960 Dodge Dart ‘Matador’ with the 318. The local dealership had the TSB. As to the brake issue, I upgraded to discs in the front and swapped out the rear axle assy (i hated those tapered axle assy’s). I also rebuilt the rear springs and added an extra main leaf after cutting the mounts off the ends. This not only raised the weight capacity, but increased the ride pleasure (my dad and I had done the same thing to his 1961 Chrysler Newport in 1972). If you want good used parts, look to North Dakota; Wyoming; Montana or Arizona. Unless they have changed their laws, North Dakota doesn’t allow the use of salt on their roads.

  28. Evan

    I own this same dart, same color and type. I’m restoring it at the moment. Changing the color to ruby red and white and using the original transmission, and slant v6. I just finished sanding, undercoating, and rubber coating the pan.

  29. GOPAR

    Good luck! I hope it turns out great. These are cool old cars. I’ve got one of my own (see remarks under my old name of “MoparMajik”)

  30. Chuck Racey

    I bought a new 1960 Dodge Dart Pioneer hardtop. It was red and white. I loved that car. It would do 60 mph in 8 seconds. My buddy bought a new 1960 Dodge Dart Phoenix hardtop. He could hit 60 mph in 7 seconds. I got married and we had 4 children and didn’t have room for all of them so I had to trade it in for more room. Big mistake. I wished I could get it back. I didn’t have any mechanical problems, only speeding tickets. I am still looking for one like it.

  31. Alexandr

    Guys, I am in final stage of restoration of Dodge Dart 1960 4 door sedan. I live outside US and therefore it is hell if a job.At the moment I desperately need left front door mounding. Perhaps some of you can help me?

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