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Monday, June 13, 2011

1969 Dodge Dart

The 1969 Dodge Dart GTS two-door hardtop listed for $3,796 f.o.b. Windsor, Ontario. The convertible GTS sold for $4,031.

Dodge Dart first appeared on the domestic automotive scene as a 1967 model. It replaced the highly popular Canada-only Valiant brand, sold by both Dodge and Plymouth dealers since the 1960 selling season. Valiant had replaced DeSoto, serving as a brand for Chrysler Canada, not a model of Plymouth as it was in the US.

In 1965 Canada and the United States had entered into an international arrangement whereby automakers could ship completed cars and trucks across the border without duty or taxes. AutoPact meant that carmakers’ Canadian factories could now become regional branches of the American system, plugged into a giant continental grid. With tariffs gone, it was no longer necessary for all—or most all—cars to be built in Canada. The Valiant brand faded into history but not before racking up 21,192 sales in its final year on the market, giving it an honourable ninth place in domestic sales.

The 1967 Dodge Dart replaced the homegrown Valiant at Chryco dealerships.

For the 1967 selling season, Darts were built in Hamtramck, Michigan and in Los Angeles, California. Records show that 14,247 of the freshly restyled compacts were imported into Canada during the 1967 calendar year. That figure earned the smallest Dodge 15th place in the sales race. The Plymouth Valiant was also new to consumers throughout the country that year and it garnered 27th place with 9,240 sales—right behind the Rambler Rebel

1968 Plymouth Valiant was the kissin' cousin of the Dodge Dart.

The sales story continued to be on target for Dart in 1968 as folks took home 16,669 of them. Another 10,151 deals were signed for the Plymouth Valiant kin. The two ChryCo compacts came in at 14th and 22nd place in the domestic sales pie.

1969 Dodge Dart lineup.

 Dart returned for the 1969 selling season largely unchanged from the previous year. In fact, it was now on the third year of the body shell cycle. It wore a slightly different grille this time around and stylists made minor side trim changes, too. The compact was photographed in upscale surroundings like country clubs and yacht clubs. The Swinger was billed as the car that “didn’t shy away from social affairs.”

Bragging that Dart was Canada’s biggest compact value, advertising pointed out that the car’s winning ways were obviously its stylish shape, “a look that doesn’t say, ‘compact,’’ and all the room and comfort inside. It suggested that the nimble handling was an important factor and the low, low price, as well.

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There were certainly enough choices an owner could aim for on Dodge’s Dart board. The high priced models included a pair of Swinger 340s. These were followed by another pair of smart Darts in the posh GTS series: a ragtop and a hardtop. A lesser trimmed convertible and a Dart two-door hardtop were also found in the GT series. Further from the bull’s eye were the Dart Custom two-door hardtop and the Dart Custom four-door sedan. Finally there was a base Dart four-door sedan.

All Darts left the factory with unit construction, seven-stage rust protection, hub caps, a Torsion Bar front suspension, a heater and defroster unit, three-spoke steering wheel carrying a padded hub, an aluminized muffler and tailpipe as well as a host of new safety features dictated by the federal Ministry of Transport.
The Dodge Dart Swinger 340 listed for $3,270. It carried special equipment and markings along with a mean V-8 engine.

The Swinger 340 had that large V-8 under the hood as standard equipment along with a four-barrel carb and dual exhausts. It boasted a four-speed manual Hurst shifter, Rallye suspension and wide-tread tires, Firm Ride shock absorbers, Bumblebee stripes wrapped around the rear and a hood with “Power Bulges” made up the package.

The GTS didn’t get the Hurst four-speed shifter. It disappeared in favour of Chrysler’s three-speed automatic transmission. The hardtop came with bucket seats. Red Line tires were all the rage and they were part of the deal.

1969 Dodge Dart GT hardtop.

Shorn of a letter, the lesser GT could still be had with the 2.8-litre (170-cubic inch) or the 3.7-litre (225-cubic inch) Slant Six or the 4.5-litre (273 cubic inch) V-8 at no cost.  The mill of choice was mated to a three-speed manual transmission. Bucket seats were installed in hardtops.

The Custom offered the same engine choices, the three-speed manual and carpeting but the bucket seats were eliminated in the hardtop model. The modestly priced Dart would make do with a bench seat up front.

The least expensive Dodge Dart offered in 1969 was a low-bucks four-door sedan listing for $2,802. The base Dart was most modest. It offered two engine choices and the three-speed manual shifter. Frills were eliminated altogether; flooring was rubber. 

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Options for the Dodge Dart could fill the Bay of Fundy at high tide. They included the Airtemp air conditioner and tinted glass, a rear window defogger, the Music Master AM Radio or the Solid-State AM-FM radio, power steering, power brakes, centre console for cars equipped with bucket seats, a remote control outside mirror for the driver, a right-hand mirror, undercoating, extra hood insulation, a colour-keyed head restraint (!), rear seat belts, a deep-dish three-spoke steering wheel with a full horn ring, a simulated Sports-type simulated, wood-grained wheel with padded hub; electric variable-speed wipers and washer; extra foam for front seats and all-vinyl interiors.

Dart offered almost as many light groups as there are constellations in a starry night sky. Vinyl roof coverings were offered in Black, White Afflair, Green Antique or Tan. Two-tone paint jobs, deluxe wheel covers, cast-centre 14-inch road wheels, faux road wheels, bumper guards, fender-top turn signal indicators, tachometer, Trailer-Towing Package, four-speed manual transmission were all on the list of extra-cost goodies.
Colour chart for the 1969 Dodge Dart.

While the fall sales brochure lists 17 oven-baked Acrylustre enamel colours, the year ended with 22 hues: Silver Metallic, Light Blue Metallic, Bright Blue Metallic, Medium Blue Metallic, Dark Blue Metallic, Cordovan Metallic, Light Green Metallic, Medium Green Metallic, Dark Green Metallic, beige, Light Turquoise Metallic, Bright Turquoise Metallic, Bright Red, Red, Light Bronze Metallic Copper Metallic, Dark Bronze Metallic, White, Black, Yellow, Cream and Gold Metallic could be had as single colours or in striking two-tone combinations.

1969 turned out to be a great year for the Dodge Dart. Calendar year sales added up to 19,104 units, giving the ChryCo compact 12th place in the domestic sales race.

1970 Ford Maverick racked up a most impressive 19,573 sales across Canada during the 1969 calendar year.

Ahead of it in 11th place was the hot new Ford Maverick. Introduced as a 1970 model, it racked up 19,573 units sold in calendar year 1969. The other small car that was even more popular was the VW Beetle finishing in fourth place with 29,419 sales to its credit. For the record, Plymouth’s Valiant placed 25th with 11,908 sales.

Visit my old car website at: The Oilspot Eh!

Copyright James C. Mays 2006 All rights reserved.

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