Tuesday, June 06, 2023

Automotif CCCLXXIX...

Dodge has gotten a lot of mileage out of the "Dart" moniker, and not just figuratively. They introduced the Dart name in 1960 for a newer, slightly-smaller Dodge model based on a Plymouth that would fill out the catalog with something cheaper to buy and thriftier to drive than the full-sized Matador and Polara models.

After a quirky-looking second generation that only lasted for one model year, 1962, a new downsized third generation of Dart debuted as something called a "senior compact", a name meant to reflect a car that was slightly larger and roomier than the '61-'62 Valiant/Lancer Mopar compacts.

Unlike the Valiant/Lancers, the new-for-'63 Dart models rode on a 111" wheelbase, which was a four-and-half inch stretch over the earlier car. While 111" was indeed compact by the standards of early Sixties Detroit, where full-size behemoths like the Dodge 880 rolled on wheelbases nearly a full foot longer, by the time the Dart was discontinued after the '76 model year, it was feeling distinctly mid-sized.

Originally introduced with your choice of Slant-Six motors in 170cid  displacement with 101 SAE gross horsepower or the classic 225 cubic inch version rated at 145 gross bhp, an all new engine was added for 1964.

If the fender badges on this super-straight Dodge Dart 270 sedan aren't fibbing, it has the brand-new-for-'64 273 cubic inch V-8. With a 2-barrel Carter carb, 8.8:1 compression, solid lifters, and a single exhaust, the 273 was rated at 180 SAE gross horsepower and gave a noticeable performance bump in these relatively smaller, lighter cars over the regular six cylinder mill.

The 273 was the first in a long line of what were dubbed Chrysler's "LA" series of small blocks. It was produced in 318, 340, and 360 versions and eventually morphed into the fuel-injected 5.2L and 5.9L Magnum V-8's of the Nineties, powering a host of Mopar trucks. It also served as the basis for the 8.0L V-10, which was basically a 360 with a couple extra cylinders.

While the '64 Dart was the first year of the new LA V-8, it was also the last model year of a quirky old Mopar artifact, the pushbutton gear selector. If this car has a three-speed Torqueflite automatic transmission, then rather than having a conventional lever on the floor or column, it has a set of pushbuttons to the left of the wheel.