Veterans of the '60s remember the Dart for plenty of reasons, most of them related to its economy-car status. The 225-c.i. "slant six" motor, named for its pronounced lean to the port side of the car, was known as the motor that thrived on abuse-it never seemed to need any attention to keep it running. The slant-six Darts were practical cars owned by practical people and used as reliable, affordable transportation.
The Dart jumped into the muscle car race in 1968 by offering a choice of seven engines: 170- and 225-c.i. slant sixes, and 273, 340, 383 and 440 V8s. At the top of the food chain, Hurst-Campbell built 80 426 Hemi-powered Darts.
As part of Dodge's "Scat Pack," the 1968 GT Sport model came with a 340-c.i. engine and twin bumblebee stripes at the rear. A 383 motor was optional, as was a Hurst four-speed or a Torqueflite automatic transmission (three-on-the-tree manual was standard). The GTS hood had twin "power bulges" with air vents, fake mag wheel covers, GTS emblems and body side racing stripes.
1969 brought a new bumblebee stripe (with GT Sport written on the rear flank), a blacked-out front grille and rear body panel, and a larger torsion bar when the 383-now uprated to 330 horsepower from 325-was chosen.
A properly restored 340 Dart GT coupe will set you back $15,000 to $20,000. Add in a 383 and the cost can go up to $23,000. With a 440, a good and properly documented car will start north of $25,000. And you can more than double that with a factory-built Hemi.
Rust is the number one enemy of Darts of all ages. Then there is originality. Hi-po Darts are easily faked, as a 440 or 426 slides into any V8 Dart chassis. Before buying at the top of the Dart gene pool, have the car checked out by a specialist, or at the very least get copies of the original build sheets. Parts, be they exterior trim to interior fittings, are relatively inexpensive, thanks to the huge build numbers for these cars.
Scat Pack Darts will never have the following of the full-size Chevrolets and Mopars of the era, due to their bland styling and humble origins. Consider that a base Road Runner or Charger was still a performance car, while a base Dart was a librarian's special. Nonetheless, they have a following, and nicely restored ones (there really aren't any nice original ones to be found) are creeping up in value every year. And they stand as a reminder when even the practical cars in a manufacturer's lineup could be bought with big motors and flashy stripes.