Very Rare 1961 Dodge Dart Seneca Wagon

As the proud owner of several Dodge Darts, including one that was perhaps the second car I ever owned, it’s a delight to see this rare survivor—a 1961 Dodge Dart Seneca wagon. You can find it here on eBay in Lambertville, Michigan, with a Buy It Now of $5,900 and bids far below that not meeting the reserve.

Despite the rust belt location, the body of this old station wagon looks to be in better than average condition. There’s surface rust a-plenty underneath, but not terribly much on the outer panels. The owner does report some rot at the bottom of the front fenders, hood hinge mounts, and lower rear quarters. The footwells have been patched. Despite some scrapes and nicks here and there, it’s likely the dull red paint would even respond to some sympathetic treatment.

This is a bare-bones wagon. The Seneca was the base model Dart, and I’m not seeing any options on this car beyond what they used to call “R&H,” radio, and heater. There are advantages to this because there’s not much chrome trim to be restored. Some of that trim is missing, but the owner says he has all of it. What little that is visible doesn’t look bad, and the bumpers are probably savable.

Here’s what we know about this car. It’s from West Virginia originally and was stored for many years, which helps explain the condition, and sports the base 225 Slant Six with three on the tree. It runs, albeit only with a gas can. The lights and wipers function, but the owner says he hasn’t gone beyond that. The car has new tires, battery, fuel filter, and right front brake hose.

The windshield is cracked, and despite that hose, more brake work is needed. The reason for the external gas can is a leak, either in the tank or a fuel line. The interior is a mixed bag, with rough bench seats and missing door panels (but they’re included). How about that intact dashboard, however? Sold “as is, where is.” And, truth in advertising, the Seneca “needs work.”

The Dart was introduced in 1960. The 1961 styling by Virgil Exner is wildly extravagant, including reverse fins, rear fender scalloping, and weird taillights that were derided at the time as “ingrown toenails.” It wasn’t popular with suburbanites or anyone else. The whole Dart line sold 142,708 that year, of which 66,100 were Senecas (down from 111,600 in 1960). The compact Darts (and Valiants) didn’t appear until 1963 and were much better liked (as well as prettier), but that’s another story.

What was kind of hideous back in the day is now looking remarkable. It’s guaranteed that you won’t see yourself coming and going in this ’61. The Slant Six, a legendarily reliable power plant, is likely to be workable, even with 110,520 miles on the odometer. The column shift isn’t exactly sporty but might be kind of fun to use.

If this one doesn’t sell it will be because of high expectations on the part of the owner. But old wagons are gaining in value. Hagerty lists a “good” ’61 Seneca at $23,000, and this one could be “good” with a fairly minor outlay. How about you—is the styling off-putting—or inviting?

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Comments

  1. RoughDiamond RoughDiamond Member

    Never seen one of these. Looks like it should be in one of those Disney animated “Cars” movies with that frontend.

    Like 10
  2. Slantasaurus

    That is a later Slant, not original. Overall not a bad car at a reasonable price.

    Like 14
  3. Raymond

    Hate the stamped grilles these used, look like a rambler or falcon level….cheap….

    Like 5
    • Rick

      Ramblers usually had die cast grilles which wouldn’t flex and bend. AMC’s brochures and sales staff manuals used to stress this selling point.

      Like 2
  4. healeydays

    Finding a windshield replacement should be interesting

    Like 9
    • Fred W

      Just for grins, I tried it. It’s available, $442.

      Like 20
    • stillrunners stillrunners Member

      Windshield is a non-issue – like virgins – they’re still around.

      Like 3
  5. firecubed

    what was the purpose of those reflector shields (?) next to the back window?

    • Sam61

      They help suck exhaust fumes into car when the tailgate window is down.

      Like 3
    • Mike

      They directed air across the tailgate window to keep dust from obscuring the view.

      Like 5
  6. DETROIT LAND YACHT

    The inverted “missile fin” rear quarter panels are a work of art.
    New suspension…wheels…4 wheel discs…20 inch low profile wheels. Oh yeah…and drop a 5.7 litre in this puppy.
    Perfect restomod candidate.

    Like 13
    • Chris M.

      Skip the 20s. Otherwise those are great suggestions.

      Like 13
  7. Chris

    That is a pretty cool looking wagon . Never seen one like that . But once again lotz of work to be done & not enough money

    Like 2
  8. Ben T. Spanner

    Why is it rare? Just look. Plymouth would be even rarer. The rear quarter panels were shared with the full size Monaco.
    My Father had a new 1960 Dodge Phoenix convertible with a 318. The styling was more main steam. Build quality was worse than his 1958 Plymouth.
    When his Dodge was new, someone mentioned that his sister’s new Dodge, with the slant six got overall gas mileage was 18, and they both were happy. Not my Fathers, it had a 318 4bbl, and my foot on the gas.

    Like 2
  9. Bob C.

    Absolutely, I noticed that as well. Definitely from the 70s, being blue. These were quite ubiquitous when I was growing up. Nice to see a survivor.

    Like 1
  10. Rbig18

    Finally. A car on barn finds that is in my town. A first. If only it was something I was interested in.

    Like 2
  11. Ray

    Never liked the styling on this year, but I’ve only seen sedans. Somehow the wagon’s proportions make the rear fenders look good. That is an awesome dashboard.

    Like 3
  12. Sam Braden

    I have a 61’ Pioneer hardtop. I was looking for the oddest car I could from that era as a challenge to myself and to actually have something different at cruise-ins. I opened up a book called Cars. of the 60’s and when I saw the red 61’ Phoenix trim level version ( similar to the Pioneer) i set out to find a resto candidate. I yarded out the 318 2speed in favor of a 413 3 speed. Great car and really gets curious eyes 👀 at shows

    Like 7
    • local_sheriff

      That’s some approach to the hobby! 👍 Is yours a longroof too? Never understood why people would call these ugly; quirky yes but definately unique in a good way

      Like 5
  13. Robert White

    I was a car nut back in the 60s even as a kid and I don’t ever recall seeing one of these Dart Wagons. Did they market these body styles in CANADA?

    I grew up in Toronto through the whole 60s. I knew I was a GM man back when I was about 3 or 4 years old because my father had a Dodge Fury 63 Slant Six, and it turned me into a GM man as soon as I sat in it.

    Bob

    Like 2
  14. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry Member

    I remember seeing a few of these back in the 60’s. There were no soccer mom’s back then but there were little league mom’s. If you went to those games you might see one or two of these in the parking lot. Seemed like they were all red though I might have seen a blue one. For me those were the greatest days of my life. Ofcourse I had to ride my Schwin 3 speed bike everywhere I went. Even when I had a drivers license at age 16 in 1963.
    God bless America

    Like 6
  15. sign guy

    Love those rear quarter panels. The front end…not so much.

    Like 2
  16. Glenn C. Schwass Member

    Slant 6’s were red then…Neat car. My dad had a 61 Valiant Slant 6 with 3 on the tree. It out lasted the body that rusted away around it in 7 years.

    Like 1
  17. Charles Sawka

    The word “Fugly” comes to mind

  18. Vance

    If you wanted 1 of 1, I would be all over this. I have never seen a ’61 wagon, and don’t imagine I will see another. I think they are cool looking, and its what D-day drove in Animal House, very unique car.

    Like 2
  19. Terry

    firecubed those were wind deflectors to keep dust from accumulating on the back glass.

    • Solosolo Solosolo Member

      They didn’t work on any of the wagons that we had in Zimbabwe back in the 50’s and 60’s where we had some of the worst gravel roads imaginable. I had a 1960 Chev Brookwood fitted with these deflectors but they made very little difference.

      Like 2
  20. Jcs

    Just as everyone said of me as a child, aw so ugly it’s cute.

    Like 6
  21. Gary L Albright

    My parents bought a new 1961 Seneca 4 door sedan, with push button trans. The car I learned to drive in. I always look when I see one at cars shows and it brings a smile to my face and a flashback to a better time.

    Like 1
  22. robert Member

    more a polaris with that rear
    then a dart
    inside is mor dart that polaris
    1961 darts had different rear tail lights

  23. John

    I bet that red paint would buff out. Throw an old 60’s green polyester weave couch up front and drive it like you stole it from a Walking Dead movie set!

  24. Robert L Haworth

    Ironically, this one isn’t weird ENOUGH to attract my dollar. The front end is especially plain. No slanted headlights, or rocket-pods out back? Pass. If you’re going to sink $$ into a wagon from the Googie era, go all the way, don’t settle for this one.

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