My Classic Car: Frank’s 1964 Dodge Dart

My parents bought a new 1964 Dodge Dart 170 four-door the year before I was born. Later that year, my great aunt bought a nearly identical one.

My parents’ car served our family well but, by 1979, the body had seen better days due to its exposure to road salt. After a minor accident, my father decided its days were done.

My great aunt had passed away two years earlier and we acquired her car. I parted out my family’s Dart and we made a number of repairs to my great aunt’s car, which became my first car. It served me well until its life was cut short one stormy night two months before I graduated high school.

Fifteen years later, when I was 32, I acquired this Dart. It was a low-mileage car that had been owned by an older woman prior to her death. Over the years, I replaced the tired 170 with a healthy 225, rebuilt the transmission, installed stiffer torsion bars, and added a sway bar and disc brakes, and swapped to a more highway friendly 2.76 rear axle ratio.

Five years ago, I tackled the rust and refurbished the interior.

Now, 20 years into ownership, I am enjoying my time behind the wheel more than ever.

— Frank Adkins, Greenwood DE

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Chrysler club lights ‘em up at Mopar Under the Lights

Crowds filter in at dusk for Mopar Under the Lights | William Hall photos
Crowds filter in at dusk for Mopar Under the Lights | William Hall photos

Not so long ago, most classic car gatherings took place in the evening. Drive-ins and parking lots served as afterschool cruise spots, and no one wanted to go home to bed. Nowadays, it seems that classic car owners would rather meet for a morning coffee or stroll a manicured golf course concours than brave the dark.

Which is why the 10th annual Mopar Under the Lights show seemed both unique and edgy while being wholly familiar. More than two-hundred Dodge-Chrysler-Plymouth products crammed into the Dodge City dealership parking lot in Brookfield, Wisconsin, for a warm summer night of cars and camaraderie. Organized by the Wisconsin Mopar Muscle Club, the participants fully embraced the dusk setting which has become a novelty in the club’s event calendar.

Judges scrambled to determine class awards before the sun went down
Judges scrambled to determine class awards before the sun went down

For the viewer, the event was illuminating in many ways. Light and shadow brought out hidden details of sculpted bodylines, and interiors glowed from their warm incandescent lighting. It’s easy to forget that engineers spent countless hours designing unique headlights and taillights that few of us really get to see anymore. There is a satisfaction in seeing glove box, dome and license-plate lights functioning on a well-restored car. The sensation is vividly evocative of youthful nights spent around such vehicles.

Dave and Laura Cornelius braved more than darkness on their 75-mile shakedown cruise to the event. Dave had just rebuilt the dual-quad carbs the night before on their newly-acquired 1966 Hemi-powered Plymouth Satellite survivor car, and made the trip from Green Lake, Wisconsin, without a hiccup. The car was the sensation of the show, showing only 57,000 miles and wearing the rusty scars from many Wisconsin winters.

Remarkably, the Satellite’s corrosion occurred when the car was plowed-in one winter under salted snow, leaving the underbody and structure of the car clean and solid. Dave and Laura are the fourth owners, grateful the car had avoided restoration all these years– which affords a unique look at the aging process of these old B-bodies.

“I never thought I would own a Hemi car,” Dave said. “I always thought they were out of reach of the ‘normal’ car enthusiast.”

Mason Scarpace shows his scale-model Plymouth Superbird collection
Mason Scarpace shows his scale-model Plymouth Superbird collection

Fifth-grader Mason Scarpace brought out his 1:64 scale Plymouth Superbird collection to talk Mopar with his fellow Superbird owners. Mason’s mom, Teresa, is a club member who displayed her two Chrysler Shelby CSX’s, and enjoys sharing the old-car hobby with her son.

Leave it to a young man to show classic car owners how to enjoy every last hour of the summer car show season –and to not be afraid of the dark.

Dave Frydach attends the event regularly with his black 1970 Barracuda Gran Coupe. The fading light provides a great setting for Dave’s beautiful triple black E-body, and he and his wife thoroughly enjoy picnicking with friends and soaking up the warm summer night.

“If we are not the last car to leave, she’s not happy,” Frydach said.

Chris Bailey has owned his 1970 Hemi Charger R/T for more than 17 years, also resisting the urge to restore the car. It’s one of only a handful of factory sunroof-equipped Hemi Chargers and it remains a benchmark-original example. He owes that awareness for preservation to his father, a long-time member of the Antique Automotive Club of America.

Bailey, who is a manufacturing process engineer by trade, is fascinated by the production differences found on Mopars. Processes varied between assembly plants, and suppliers changed to meet production demands. Inconsistency was a byproduct of necessity.

“These were consumer products –they only got paid for what got out the door,” Bailey said.

Photos by William Hall

 

Winged Mopars lead $20 million Mecum auction in Harrisburg

A low-mileage 1970 Plymouth Hemi Superbird was the star of the show | Mecum Auctions
A low-mileage 1970 Plymouth Hemi Superbird was the star of the show | Mecum Auctions

Led by a pair of Mopar “winged warriors,” Mecum Auctions claimed $20 million in sales (not including auction fees) from its collector car sale this past weekend in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, which included a Gone Farmin’ auction of vintage tractors and equipment.

The collector car auction boasted a 74 percent sell-through rate with 636 vehicles going to new homes. American muscle cars from the 1960s and ’70s dominated the results, with seven of the top 10 sellers coming from the muscle era. Continue reading

Pick of the Day: 1994 Dodge Viper RT/10

The Dodge Viper is a low-mileage survivor said to be in excellent condition
The Dodge Viper is a low-mileage survivor said to be in excellent condition

Now that we know Dodge Viper production ends after this model year, the Pick of the Day goes back to the roots of the V10-powered roadster with one of the first-gen models in low-mileage survivor condition.

This 1994 Dodge Viper RT/10 has been driven only 13,090 miles in its 23 years by just two owners, according to the dealer in Hailey, Idaho, advertising the car on ClassicCars.com. Continue reading

Pick of the Day: 1931 Dodge Brothers house car

The roof of the Dodge house car lifts up about two feet
The roof of the Dodge house car lifts up about two feet

Back in the 1920s and ’30s, motorhomes and campers were generally known as “house cars,” a fairly accurate description of the house-on-wheels approach of the day. Some of them were more like gypsy caravans with motors, while others were relatively sophisticated camping vehicles.

The Pick of the Day is a 1931 Dodge Brothers house car with a then-unusual elevating roof, which presages today’s motorhomes and trailers with rising or extending sections. When driving, the roof lies flat for a lower and more-aerodynamic profile. When parked, the roof can be raised about two feet, a fabric structure providing the four walls. Continue reading

Inaugural auction at famed Fairplex in Pomona readied by Mecum

A 1968 Dodge Dart LO23 Super Stock drag racer is one of the auction headliners | Mecum Auctions photos
A 1968 Dodge Dart LO23 Super Stock drag racer is one of the auction headliners | Mecum Auctions photos

The Fairplex in Pomona, California, is a fabled location for legions of motorsports and hot rod fans, the site of the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum, drag-racing competitions, gigantic swap meets and scores of car-club shows.

This month, the Fairplex will host a new Mecum Auctions collector car sale, with around 600 American muscle cars, hot rods, classics and Corvettes crossing the block during the two-day event February 17-18. Continue reading

Pick of the Day: 1938 Dodge pickup truck

The Dodge pickup is a three-quarter-ton long bed restored to original
The Dodge pickup is a three-quarter-ton long bed restored to original

As demonstrated again last week during the auctions of Arizona Car Week, old pickup trucks are hot commodities these days, especially those that have been restored to original. It’s hard not to feel nostalgia at the sight of a shapely classic truck, which often were handsomely styled despite their utilitarian purposes.

While most vintage pickups you see preserved or restored are Fords or GM trucks, the Pick of the Day is an unusual 1938 Dodge pickup. Pre-war Dodge trucks are fairly rare, and this heavy-duty, three-quarter-ton long bed usually would have been subjected to rough hauling duties and unlikely to have survived, but this lucky one lives on. Continue reading

Mopar performance muscles in at RM Sotheby’s Arizona auction

This restored 1963 Dodge  330 Max Wedge Lightweight is one of just nine built by the factory | Bob Golfen photos
This restored 1963 Dodge 330 Max Wedge Lightweight is one of just nine built by the factory | Bob Golfen photos

‘You don’t usually see these kinds of muscle cars here.”

That was the comment from a passerby at RM Sotheby’s auction as she walked by a group of vintage Mopar performance machines at the Arizona Biltmore Resort in Phoenix, where the sale is being held.

Big pre-war classics and high-end sports cars are what come to mind at RM Sotheby’s, although the Arizona auction generally features a fairly wide range of collector cars. Still, a solid contingent of mighty 1960s muscle cars is somewhat unexpected in such polite society. Those more likely are found headlining the boisterous Barrett-Jackson or Russo and Steele auctions, both of which specialize in American ground pounders. Continue reading

Pick of the Day: 1949 Dodge Power Wagon

The Dodge Power Wagon is a civilian version of a WWII military truck
The Dodge Power Wagon is a civilian version of a WWII military truck

While Jeep gets most of the ink as a World War II-derived civilian vehicle, another legendary off-road warrior designed for the conflict also made the switch to civilian life, although with a much-larger footprint: the mighty Dodge Power Wagon.

The Pick of the Day is a terrific, low-mileage 1949 Dodge Power Wagon with enough restoration upgrades to qualify as a resto mod. A brutal-looking pickup truck, the Power Wagon seems ready to wage war on the toughest terrain anywhere. Continue reading

Pick of the Day: 1987 Dodge Charger/Shelby GLHS

The Dodge Charger / Shelby GLHS is bedecked with dams, spoilers and the Shelby logo
The Dodge Charger / Shelby GLHS is bedecked with dams, scoops, spoilers and the Shelby logo

The Pick of the Day is a genuine, low-mileage Carroll Shelby performance machine with an asking price of just under 7,000 bucks. But no, it’s not a V8-enhanced AC Ace sports car or a done-over Ford Mustang. And to my knowledge, it is part of the only Shelby series with a transverse 4-cylinder engine and front-wheel drive.

This is a 1987 Shelby GLHS, one of 1,000 Dodge Chargers that Shelby purchased from Chrysler Motors and transformed into hot little hatchbacks at his factory in Whittier, California. The effort to capitalize on the Shelby name, and have some fun doing so, came after the previous year’s similar transformation of 700 Dodge Omnis into Shelby GLH models. Continue reading