This 1961 Dodge Dart Pioneer is a true American classic that has been well-loved and cared for throughout its life. It popped up over on Bring A Trailer and we were smitten. This car is probably one of the wildest examples of Chrysler’s Forward Look design language.
Arguably, early 60s Mopars were the last straw in head designer Virgil Exner’s career. Exner was a styling guru who hit a home run in 1957 with fresh designs for the Pentastar brands, but as the years progressed, the styling went around the bend. Exner was replaced by Ford’s Elwood Engle, who brought us the suicide-door Lincoln Continental.
This car is powered by a 361 cubic-inch Dart D500 V8 that was rated at 305 horsepower when new. The engine is teamed with a Carter AFB carburetor, a Mopar electronic ignition, a replacement radiator and heater core, and a dual exhaust system with an H-pipe crossover. Power is sent to the rear wheels through an A745 heavy-duty three-speed manual transmission and an 8¾” rearend with a Power-Lok differential and a 3.31:1 final gear ratio.
The Dart has been repainted in black, and the paint is thinning in spots. The car also has simulated hood louvers, a fender-mounted driver-side mirror, a replacement windshield, bright body-side moldings, and a rubber rear bumper guard.
Chrome-plated Dart badges on the quarter panels are said to be machined steel prototypes that were acquired by the seller from a former Dodge employee. Rust repair has been performed to the lower rear window channel, and there are bubbles in the wheel wells and rocker-panel joints.
The interior of the Dart is in very nice condition. The replacement patterned black/gray cloth seat covers have silver and white vinyl inserts and were sourced by the seller. Replacement black rubber mats line the floorboards, and the padded dashboard anchors a rearview mirror and houses a heater/defroster. A Hurst Campbell DP61 floor shifter was installed under current ownership in place of a column-mounted manual shifter. All is not perfect here as some wear is noted on the interior side and door panels.
The Dart has a two-spoke steering wheel that frames a 120-mph horizontal-sweep speedometer consisting of a translucent panel with a “see-through” housing that allows natural lighting to illuminate the dial during the day. Green LED backlighting was added by the seller.
Additional instrumentation includes a row of barrel-type gauges for coolant temperature, fuel level, and amperage as well as an oil-pressure idiot lamp. An 8,500-rpm Dixco tachometer is attached to the steering column, and an aftermarket auxiliary oil pressure gauge is mounted on the bottom edge of the dash. The five-digit odometer shows 11,000 miles and is believed to have rolled over once. Approximately 5,000 miles were added under current ownership, and the true mileage is unknown.
This 1961 Dodge Dart is a great example of a late-era Virgil Exner classic. It is a well-maintained car that is sure to provide years of enjoyment for its new owner. UPDATE: Sold! Its new owner paid $21,000. Not bad for a cool Mopar that is guaranteed to be one-of-one at the local car show.
1961 Dodge Pioneer Features
- 361ci Dart D500 V8 engine
- Carter AFB carburetor
- Mopar electronic ignition
- Replacement radiator and heater core
- Dual exhaust system with an H-pipe crossover
- A745 heavy-duty three-speed manual transmission
- 8¾” rear end with a Power-Lok differential and a 3.31:1 final gear ratio
- Simulated hood louvers
- Fender-mounted driver-side mirror
- Replacement windshield
- Bright body-side moldings and tail-fin trim
- Chrome bumpers
- Rubber rear-bumper guard
- Machined steel prototype Chrome-plated Dart badges on the quarter panels
- Replacement patterned black/gray cloth seat covers with silver and white vinyl inserts
- Replacement black rubber floor mats
- Padded dashboard
- Hurst Campbell DP61 floor shifter
- Two-spoke steering wheel
- 120-mph horizontal-sweep speedometer
- Green LED backlighting
- Barrel-type gauges for coolant temperature, fuel level, and amperage
- Oil-pressure telltale lamp
- 8,500-rpm Dixco tachometer
- Aftermarket auxiliary oil-pressure gauge