Chrysler made the perfect car in the late 1960s: Dodge Dart.
The Dodge Dart was all things to all people because it fit so well into so many lifestyles that ranged from practical to living on the edge.
A practical Dodge Dart had four doors and came equipped with the famous and reliable Slant Six engine. These cars were small enough to fit into supermarket parking lots and powerful enough to use on the highway as a commuter vehicle. But they were not exactly flashy.
However, a Dodge Dart could be purchased in beast mode if their owners chose the 340 cubic inch small block V-8 engine. The 340 was the perfect engine for a Dart if their owners wanted to seek out a more ideal power to weight ratio in their cars.
A Dodge Dart with a 340 under its hood could run with the big dogs all-day-and- every-day on the street. The 340 Dart ambushed its competition because few car guys in the late 1960s expected this compact car to build a legacy of tire-smoking performance.
Doug Trudel was already aware of the sporty side of the Dodge Dart because he previously owned a 1967 Dodge Dart two-door hardtop, a ’67 Dodge Dart GT model, along with a 1969 Dart Swinger. The experiences with his earlier Darts made Doug a lifelong fan of the famous Mopar compacts-and he wanted to own another one.
He eventually became the owner of a beautiful 1969 Dodge Dart GTS convertible that was built by Chrysler to be “somewhat of a show car”; according to Doug. The GTS designation means Doug’s Dart has more whistles and buzzers than a GT model.
Doug’s GTS has power steering, power brakes (with front discs), door edge guards, and undercoating to help separate it from the GT models. Doug concluded the GTS “had everything the racers didn’t want”, in terms of bling and luxury.
However, Doug’s GTS convertible has the famous 340 under its hood and the small block still gives him a racer’s edge on the road, although Doug has “nothing to prove” in his words. Instead he is comfortable with his Dart’s mileage performance which can hit about 22 MPG when he keeps his foot off the gas.
The car was previously owned by a car guy who rarely drove the convertible and limited its time on the road to about 700 miles in 10 years. Doug described the moment he discovered the car as a fluke that occurred through word of mouth via “neighbors who knew neighbors”, in his words.
Doug was the right guy to get the Dart GTS because he is a big believer in originality and did not want to alter the car in a major way. He even chose bias ply redline tires for his GTS to add to its original build. Doug is no stranger to bias ply tires because he previously drove cars like his ’69 Swinger on bias ply tires and is comfortable with them.
The GTS even has its original imitation mag hubcaps which are pretty heavy, according to Doug.
MSCC would like to thank Doug because he wants to preserve his 1969 Dodge Dart GTS in all of its original glory-plus he wants to drive his classic convertible-and it does not get any better than that car guy philosophy.
BY: Jim Sutherland
Jim Sutherland is a veteran automotive writer whose work has been published by many major print and online publications. The list includes Calgary Herald, The Truth About Cars, Red Deer Advocate, RPM Magazine, Edmonton Journal, Montreal Gazette, Windsor Star, Vancouver Province, and Post Media Wheels Section.