Heres the first installment in our Redline Dodge Share Your Story series. This one stars Stan Keith and the great story of his first Dodge, a 1960 Dart Pioneer hardtop. Alas, Stan wasnt able to furnish a photo, so the Darts owners manual will have to serve as a stand-in. Heres Stan to tell us about the car he called the Black Beast:
I was a sophomore in college in the summer of 1968 and my parents said I could buy my first car if I paid for it and paid for insurance, gas, and upkeep. So I hit the newspapers looking for a used something. After looking at several cars, I found a 1960 Dart for sale at the huge price of $350. Understand, this was in 1968, but this was still a bargain! My father drove me to the address not far from where we lived in California.
And there it was – a 2-door hardtop, black with a black and red interior; 318 engine with a 3-speed Torqueflite. (With pushbuttons!) It had a radio and no other options. Manual steering and manual brakes! A beast! Matter of fact, that is what my mother and sister called it – The Black Beast.
For an 8 year old car it was in pretty good shape. The original owner had ordered the car special from the factory. It needed a new muffler, some upholstery work on the seats, and a good wax job and cleaning, but it was all there and it ran fantastic.
I spent the summer working on the car. I worked in an auto parts store so I was able to get the parts I needed at a discount. I replaced the spark plugs, wires, hoses, brakes, tires, and darn near everything that needed to be fixed. By the time I drove it to college in September, it was a black gem.
I drove that car for two years – to be replaced by a 1968 Dodge A108 van which I converted to a camper (but that is a story for some other time). The really great thing about that ’60 Dart was it was so huge inside that I could fit six college students (girls, especially!) with all their luggage in the trunk from my college to home. I would advertise on dorm bulletin boards and whenever I made a trip home I would have a full car of students.
Ive got to tell one story about driving the Dart. It had factory backup lights in the rear bumper. One day I was driving down the old US 99 Highway in the San Joaquin valley in California and doing a little over the speed limit, I was being tailgated by this guy who just would not get off my tail. I had enough – so I engaged the reverse pushbutton on the dash – not enough to put the transmission into reverse, but enough to engage the backup lights. It was dusk and those huge, white backup lights must have wakened the tailgater. He backed off so fast he must have thought he was going to be sprayed with a lunched transmission!
Boy, I had fun with that car. It had 60, 000 miles on it when I bought it and it had a little over 100, 000 when I sold it. Great car, great memories. That car started my Dodge history.