The Dodge Dart GT and GTS: sporty and compact
The Dodge Dart was Dodge’s answer to the compact car industry. It was first released in 1960 as a small full-size automobile. Later in 1963, it was re-released as a compact car. The Dart models saw many changes over the years as they evolved into GT and GTS models, and even the popular Dodge Demon and Dodge Swinger models later on.
The Dodge GT and GTS models were some of the most popular of the Dodge’s line-up. Let’s take a look at these and see how they progressed during the 1960s and 1970s.
1963: unveiling the Dodge Dart GT
For 1963, Dodge released the Dart as a Dart GT and built it on a 111-inch wheelbase. This new model would replace the Lancer GT as the new sporty car for Dodge. Its style was designed by Elwood Engle and featured top-performing trim level.
The only thing missing was a V-8 engine. Instead of a V-8, it carried a 170 inline-six engine with 101 horsepower at 4400 rpm. Also available was a 225 inline-six engine with 145 horsepower at 4000 rpm.
The Dodge Dart GT was available as a hardtop or convertible. Both designs featured headlight bezels protruding from the front fenders and grille. There was also an angled, thick rear pillar. The Dart GT look was similar to that of the Chrysler Turbine car. The style was simple and clean. Dart buyers also got a five-year, 50,000-mile warranty with their purchase. There were 34,227 of these produced for 1963.
1964 through 1967: performance enhanced
In 1964, the Dodge Dart GT was upgraded in performance when it received a Chrysler 273-cubic-inch V-8 engine that was rated at 180 horsepower. It also had some slight changes in style and a new convex grille. Production numbers this year totaled 37,660 models with the inline-six engine and 12,170 models with the V-8 engine.
For 1965, a new V-8 engine option was offered. It was a 273-cubic-inch V-8 rated at 235 horsepower at 5200 rpm. It had 280 pound-feet of torque at 4000 rpm. Production for this year totaled 35,000 inline-six models and 10,000 V-8 models.
In 1966, the Dodge Dart GT was changed in design and had lines that were squared-off and a new grille that was rectangular in shape. The headlight bezels were rectangular in shape as well. The engine offerings were the same as the previous year. Production numbers for 1966 totaled 20,000 inline-six models and 10,000 V-8 models.
The year 1967 for the Dodge Dart GT didn’t see any major changes. There were 21,600 V-8 models sold this year. The same engines were available as before.
1968: The Dodge Dart GTS comes on the scene
For 1968, a new exciting trim option was offered by Dodge called the Dodge Dart GTS. This was meant to compete against the Nova SS by Chevrolet. The GTS was a hot design that could be ordered with the standard 340-cubic-inch V-8 engine rated at 275 horsepower or the optional 383-cubic-inch V-8 engine rated at 300 horsepower. The GTS was lightweight at only 3,000 pounds and faired well on the track and on the street. The only disadvantage was that the heavyweight 383 engine would cause power to be limited when comparing the 383 and the 340 engines.
The GTS offered many great features such as chrome tips, exhaust system with low restrictions, Rallye suspension, and also E70-14 Red Streak tires with wheel rims sized at 14 x 5.5 inches. The standard transmission was a three-on-the-tree manual, but many GTS models were ordered with the four-speed Hurst floor shift manual transmission or with the Torque-Flite automatic transmission.
In design, the Dodge Dart GTS was truly unique. It featured power bulges on the hood with air vents, racing stripes down the sides of the body, mag wheel covers, and unique GTS emblems. At no extra cost buyers could opt for a bumble bee stripe on the rear end of the car. Vinyl bucket seats came standard with the hardtop, but were optional for the convertible. The price for hardtops was $2,611 and for convertibles - $3,383.
The options offered with the GTS models included a lighter, console, AM radio, simulated wood steering wheel, mag style wheel covers, vinyl top, bumper guards, day/night rear view mirror, and bumble bee stripes.
Better performance available
Another option was available for those who wanted more power in their GTS model. Darts with the 383 engine, but without the powertrain, were shipped to Hurst-Campbell, Inc. along with 440 engines that were factory-prepped. The cars were converted at Hurst-Campbell and then inspected by Dodge representatives. These rare Dart GTS models were then sent to Grand Spaulding Auto Sales in Chicago. These cars had their own VIN, but were not covered under the factory warranty. In reality, they were only good for drag racing because of the weight-over-front heaviness of the engines over the front wheels. Also, these cars didn’t come with power steering.
There were also 80 Dodge Darts with a 426 Hemi engine. These featured a hood and front fenders made of fiberglass, a front bumper, unique one-layer Corning Glass for the windows on the side, and no exterior side mirrors. These features as well as the deletion of many features were all meant to help keep the weight of the car to a minimum. The Hemi engine used Holley carburetors, iron heads, and a heavy-duty cooling package. These cars were priced at around $4,500 and were meant for racing only - not street driving.
Production for 1968 totaled 8,745 GTS models, 68 440 models, and 80 Hemi models.
1969: more power and exterior changes
For 1969, the GTS models had more changes on the exterior as well as more engine power. On the exterior design, there was a new black grille that had a bright horizontal center bar. Also, the rear body panel was blacked-out.
For performance, the 383 V-8 came with a full Road Runner/Super Bee treatment. Its horsepower rating was increased to 330 horsepower. With this engine option was a stronger suspension system and a heavy-duty four-speed transmission or a high-shift Torque-Flite transmission. Both transmissions had a gear ratio of 3.23:1 as standard. They were available with 3.55:1 or 3.91:1 gear ratios with the optional Sure Grip differential.
Another new feature was a bumble bee stripe on the rear that had a separate lower section. It had the name “GT Sport” written on it as well.
Pricing for the hardtop this year was $3,226 and for the convertible, $3,419. A Swinger 340 model was also offered this year, which was a lower-priced performance car at $2,836. Production numbers totaled 6,702 GTS models and 20,000 Swinger 340 models.
1970: more new styling features
The year 1970 brought about more new styling features for the Swinger 340 and the Dart GTS. All models had a new design at the front and rear. The Swinger 340 was priced at $2,808 with a standard three-speed manual transmission. Its hood featured two narrow, long hood scoops and front disc brakes. There were 13,785 Swinger models sold this year.
As of 2003, the collector value of 1968 Dart GTS models was around $20,000 for a hardtop in excellent condition. For 1969 models, it was around $26,000 for a hardtop in excellent condition. This proves that the Dart GTS is still well-loved by those who want a compact car that offers great performance.