In the 1970s, the Dodge Dart was a beacon for buyers on a budget, and the Sport was for those who could afford a little more style.
Shame the current Dart didn’t make the case for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) to keep it around beyond the new few years.
Darts have been sources of many fond motoring memories, but the new one is a middling sedan that’s lost in a sea of better competitors.
In these images from oldcarbrochures.org, the 1974 Darts are pictured in an architectural milieu, but in my childhood suburb, Darts were driven by the nuns at the local rectory, or the lunch ladies at the elementary school. Like Civics and Corollas today, the Dart and those like it were default transportation choices.
Optional bucket seats, a sunroof, a fold-down rear seat – the Dart Sport did its best to offer lots of flair.
The one we came upon parked in San Francisco had few extras, and it looked to be a California original, judging by its blue plates and nearly rust-free condition.
The front end hosts a centered V-shape, which was very in vogue in this Dart’s day.
Sometimes, it could look like the Dart was narrowing its eyes, as if it were annoyed with you.
This was the first model year that protective rear bumpers were mandated by the government (the front’s were upgraded the year before), and from the minor pock we see here, this stronger beam appears to have done its job over time.
Looks like there’s finally some rust poking through around both sets of tail lights.
The trunk lid rises up on both sides for a flared look.
“Sport” nameplates were the identifiers, and their crooked alignments reflect 1970s quality standards.
Seems like the fender rub strip did its job in mitigating the damage from this minor scrape.
To become the Sport, the regular Dart’s roof was lowered, and the rear quarter panels were swelled out. Note the pop-out rear windows.
The interior appears intact, excepting the driver’s seat expected vinyl tears.
More typical ’70s: thin-rimmed plastic steering wheel, clock-radio dash wood, a rectangular speedometer. Off to the disco we go!
Dodge built 63,518 Dart Sports for 1974, which was almost exactly one-quarter of total Dart sales. Plymouth’s Dusters and Valiants just about doubled the Dart’s sales numbers.
In fact, 1974 was the last big year for these simple and reliable cars; they were gone after 1976, replaced by the troublesome Dodge Aspen and Plymouth Volare, the trials of which probably endeared Darts to their owners even more. Add the Sport’s extra flair, and at least one owner liked the combo enough to keep driving it in 2016.
Tell us in the comments – would YOU drive this Dart Sport?