Lest we forget what the US was doing in the same period as some of the other cars featured here this past week, let’s look back at a couple of American products. With the benefit of hindsight, American car (not truck/crossover) offerings seem to have been much broader in the immediate post-war period, and the Chrysler corporation is a good example of this. Chrysler offered everything from basic captive imports (Simca and then the Plymouth Cricket) up through the ultra-luxurious Imperial Crown (if that name doesn’t convey a certain level of ambition, what name does?). Taking the role of number three in the big 4, their products were often also the most interesting – they had to come up with compelling ways to differentiate their products from the two dominant players. To start, let’s look at this 1966 Dodge Dart wagon for sale for $2500 in San Jose, CA.
The Dart was not quite the bottom end for Chrysler, but it was an affordable family sedan powered by death-defying slant-six engines at the lower end of the range. Unfortunately, this later Dart does not have the overwrought but distinctive nose of the earlier cars, and the late 1960s nose and bumper look like they were designed by a completely different team than the early 1960s tail and bumper. Nonetheless, the tall greenhouse is very 1960s, and it’s surprising how some well-chosen rally wheels and a bit of lowering can change this Dart from gawky to rather sporty.
Since the front is equipped with torsion bars, and the rear with leaves, adjustment should be fairly straightforward. Pale blue is a great period color, and the only thing that needs changing here is the discount store antenna – there has to be a more elegant solution than this, which belongs on something like a pickup truck. The interior, though original and clean, is splitting at every seam and will need attention, or at least seat covers.
Things look wonderfully accessible in here, and this won’t be the first plug you’ll see for upgrading the intake and exhaust on this slant six instead of going the easy route and dropping in a V8. The car is said to be mechanically stock, but the alternator visible in this engine shot is a useful upgrade. But if you’ve got designs on something more luxurious, look back a couple of years at this 1964 Imperial Crown for sale for $1500 in Santa Cruz, CA.
At this price, you’ve got to expect a little rust, and it’s there, but these well-built cars wear handsome Elwood Engle lines and smart metallic Nassau blue paint. Cadillacs must have looked completely overdone next to this and Engle’s Lincolns. The car’s engine is a 413 V8, and the full luxury package includes power windows, power seats, and power windows, all functional.
This is a great detail shot of the grill, which looks to be in good trim. The car’s needs include brake boosters, master cylinder, 3 disconnected window motors, and rough shifting into second and third gears. The interior is also blue leather, and while no shots are provided, it’s safe to assume some work will be needed, given the car shows 143,000 miles. Which blue Mopar would you pick?