Hero photograph
Photo by Hope and Sons Funeral Directors

1961 Dodge Pioneer Beautifully Restored

Hope and Sons Funeral Directors —

318 V8 with push-button-shifted TorqueFlite automatic transmission fully restored by Hope and Sons and Rob Douglas Auto Restorations, Dunedin, New Zealand in 2015/16.

The Dodge Dart is an automobile originally built by Dodge from 1960 to 1976 in North America, with production extended to later years in various other markets.

The Dart name originally appeared on a 1957 show car featuring a body designed by the Italian coachbuilder Carrozzeria Ghia. The production Dart was introduced as a lower-priced, shorter wheelbase, full-size Dodge in 1960 and 1961, became a mid-size car for 1962, and finally was a compact from 1963 to 1976.

1961 Dodge Pioneer and Seneca

For the 1961 model year, the Dart continued as the smallest full-size Dodge. It retained the 118 in (2,997 mm) wheelbase, and was restyled to emulate the larger Polara.

The same three trim levels were available: the premium Phoenix, mid-range Pioneer, and base Seneca. Once again, wagons shared the Polara's 122 in/310 cm wheelbase; they also shared the Polara's unique side-mounted taillights.

Engine choices included the 225 cu in (3.7 L) slant-six, and the 318 cu in (5.2 L) and 361 cu in (5.9 L) V8s were also available in various configurations. Phoenix convertibles were equipped with V8 engines. Beginning mid-year, some Darts ordered with the 225 engine were equipped with the die-cast aluminum block.

Darts in all series were equipped as standard with three-speed, column-shifted manual transmissions. Chrysler's pushbutton-shifted TorqueFlite automatic was available at extra cost. The alternator, introduced as standard equipment in 1960 on the Valiant, replaced the previous DC generator on all 1961 Chrysler products.

Canadian-built 1961 Darts were identical to U.S. models on the outside, but the interior trim, controls, and displays were those used on the U.S. Plymouth

Virgil Exner's 1961 styling with its reverse fins, rear fender scalloping (the headlights were widely referred to as "ingrown toenails") and concave grille was highly unpopular with consumers.The low position and small size of the Dart's tail lights just above the corners of the bumper, was also criticized and drivers of following cars complained that they could not see them. The wraparound taillights projected light sideward, not rearward.By mid-year, Dodge made auxiliary taillights available at extra cost through its dealer network.

Hope and Sons are contemporary yet respectful of tradition, being a five generation funeral family caring for the Dunedin, Mosgiel, and Otago communities.


Send Michael Hope a message at michael@hopeandsons.co.nz