Sunday, August 17, 2014

Show Car Sunday returns with BIG UNS

On one of the brightest and most beautiful days of the year I elected to ride around the warehouses of Greenpoint as opposed to heading to the beach and this was my reward:
A 1975 Dodge Dart Swinger looking like a delicious strawberry shortcake with whipped cream on top! This ride was truly show-car mint, all the more remarkable because she's sporting a set of Maine license plates.
The yearly changes on the exterior of the Dart were few in the years surrounding this one, but there are subtle cues we can use to identify the vintage. The grill changed from an egg-crate pattern used in '74 to the horizontal bars of the one on our feature car. In addition, we can tell it's not a '76 because the turn signal lenses were amber in that year as opposed to amber bulbs behind clear lenses. It's in the details people! 
*If you really want to geek out you might notice that the rearview mirror is mounted to the windshield like it would have been in '76 as opposed to being attached to the ceiling by a little stalk in '75. However I'm inclined to think that rearview mirrors are some of the most often replaced items on an older car, and if you get a generic version it will always be the sort you glue to the glass directly.
I'd like to give a shout-out to the fence for doing its best to match the beautiful color of this Dart. I'm thinking the paint is the factory choice Bright Red which looks damn fine with that white vinyl roof & eggshell interior. Those hubcaps are the ones that came with the car when it was new which is not surprising on a car whose bumpers don't seem to be even slightly scratched.
The name Swinger was given to all 2-door Darts with the traditional formal roofline. The fastback version was called the Dart Sport, and was identical to the Plymouth Duster. Between 1971-1973 the Dart Sport was called the Demon until Christian groups lobbied Chrysler for the name change. Before it was the Demon it was going to be the Beaver until somebody tapped the silver-haired executives on the shoulder and enlightened them to what the name was slang for. Between Swinger and Beaver it's a wonder these cars didn't all come with deep shag carpeting (though some did) and mood lighting.
I love the deep concave rear window. In fact I love the design of this entire car! To me the Dart/Duster/Valiant line represents some of the best overall cars made in the history of the automobile. These cars are almost impossibly reliable, very economical, roomy, handle well, and came in a wide range of crazy colors and options. I once owned a 1972 Plymouth Gold Duster that was indeed gold, with a green faux-snakeskin vinyl roof! I mean, what car company would do that? You could also order a paisley roof pattern, or the rare Mod Top, which was a cartoonish flower pattern.
Incidentally I bought that Duster for $60 (not a typo), tuned it up, and drove it furiously delivering pizzas in Providence and making trips as far as Baltimore and New Hampshire, with weekly drives to New York as well. It was easily and by far the best money I've ever spent on an automobile. 

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