The original Dodge Dart was introduced in 1960 as a slightly smaller version of the full-size Dodge. Built on a 118 -inch wheelbase (vs. the senior Dodge's 120-inches) the Dart was designed to compete directly with the full-size Ford, Chevrolet, and Plymouth. The formula was successful, but it marked the beginning of the end for a long-standing hierarchy that had placed Dodge clearly above Plymouth.
The 1961 Dart was available in three trim levels: basic Seneca, midline Pioneer, and top-of-the-line Phoenix. Most sheet metal was shared with the senior Dodge, but prices were much lower.
Styling was dramatically revised from 1960 with a wide concave aluminum grille encircling the dual headlights. Projections at the ends of the wraparound front bumper housed parking lights. The newly designed hood featured was decorated with simulated louvers while the horizontal tail lights were positioned directly above the massive rear bumper. The Slant Six was standard on all Darts except the Phoenix convertible.
Our featured Dart Phoenix convertible is only of only a handful of D500-equipped models, featuring a high-performance 330 horsepower, 383 cubic-inch V8 with dual carburetors and cross-ram induction.
Sold for $38,500 at 2014 Barrett-Jackson's 43RD Annual Scottsdale Auction.
This 1961 Dodge Dart Phoenix Convertible was the top-of-the-line Dart available for 1961; fewer than 4,000 examples were produced. Power is from a 318 CID V8 mated to an automatic transmission. It came equipped with drum brakes, though later it line it was upgraded to power discs at all four corners. The car is painted white with a blue and white interior. There is a blue convertible top which is in very good condition.By Daniel Vaughan | Mar 2014
Dodge introduced a slightly smaller line of cars for the 1960 model year. Their Dart model rested on a short 118-inwheelbase and was four inches shorter than the larger Dodge. Standard Dodge models came equipped with the 361 CID V8 as standard, however the new Dart was powered by the 225 CID 'Slant Six.' For 1961, the Dart was given a styling update which included reverse-slanting fins in the rear. In the front, the concave grille extended the entire width of the vehicle, with quad headlights set at either end. In the center, just above the grille, was the Dodge name in block letters.
Dodge offered three versions of the Dart for 1961, consisting of the Dart Seneca, the Dart Pioneer, and the Dart Phoenix. The Seneca was the base level Dart and came equipped with chrome rear window moldings and windshield, and a single chrome stripe that traveled along the top of the fin. The Seneca name could be found directly below the fins. Inside, the Seneca was given front armrests, sun visors, turn signals and electric windshield wipers. Bodystyles included a 2- and 4-door sedan along with a station wagon. Dodge produced 66,100 examples of the Seneca passenger car during the 1961 model year.
The intermediate Dodge Dart model was the Pioneer which was given all the features found on the Seneca plus rear armrests, front foam cushion and cigarette lighter. Body styles included a 2- and 4-door sedan, a hardtop coupe, and a 6- and 9-passenger Station Wagon. The 'Pioneer' name could be found in script at the rear of the rear fender fins.
The top trim level on the Dart was the Phoenix. It had all of the features found on the other two Dart models plus exterior moldings, custom interior upholstery, additional trim, and back-up lights.
Dodge produced 37,300 Phoenixes and 38,600 examples of the Pioneer for 1961.By Daniel Vaughan | Mar 2014