This automobile is one of a very limited run of 1965 Darts with the Charger 273 trim package added to select cars at the end of the L.A. factory line in 1965. This car is one of only a few in pristine condition with the Dart Charger 273 package, and it is the earliest off the line of only a few known to exist. The new Dodge 273 four-barrel V8 is very historical as it was the first version of the modern Chrysler small block, the 318, 340, 360 etc. all following later. While the specifics of the trim package are difficult to pin down, one fact is clear: the car’s trim package (with badges and Cragar SS mags with the special 273 hubs) is extremely unique.
The Charger 273 was Dodge’s offering to keep their A-Body competitive with the SS Malibu, the GTO and the Mustang. On the streets today, there are many of the others but this car turns heads and grabs attention because of its rarity and good looks.
All factory-built examples were painted cream yellow with a black interior and black vinyl or black convertible top. According to a story that surfaced in Slant Six News #37, only 180 of these cars came out of the L.A. plant while parts for an additional 300 possible cars were shipped to Dodge dealers in 11 western states.
In addition to the Charger 273 trim, the car has Doug Thorley’s trick headers. The engine was rated at 275 HP with the headers and the Mallory dual-point distributor. These “D Darts” ran competitively in D stock all those years ago, and this small block is very fast and fun to drive.
Bob and his wife Jeanette live in San Luis Obispo on the Central Coast of California. A long-time car enthusiast, Bob has had his share of classics, including several 50’s chevys (a black ’57 Chevy hard top for high school), a 67 GTO, and several others. including a stored 67 Ford Mustang that awaits his son’s reworking. Bob first found out about this pre-Charger when he saw it in his friend’s private collection. The original 273 engine was intact but worn, and the car itself was strait and rust-free but in need of paint.
The suspension was upgraded, with KYB shock absorbers, new drum brakes, and BF Goodrich 235/60 R14 tires on new vintage replacement Cragar wheels (the original 13 inch Cragars were not safely re-storable according to several managers at several wheel-restoration companies. Bob keeps one of the originals in the trunk for display, but the car looks and handles better with the 14 inch wheels.added to the package.Everything replaced during the partial restoration (only what needed restoration was done) was stock or old stock or what could be found in the Mopar parts magazines. One of the reasons that this is so rare in restored form is the difficulty in finding parts for early A body cars. For example, the rear window molding was not available anywhere until Bob sent the old moulding to Steel Rubber. The company copied the molding and the part is now in their catalog.As for survival figures on the Dart Charger 273 package, they are not known, but Bob is aware of only a few others in existence at this point. A gentleman name named Ulf Andersen of Sweden now has a registry of the cars, and Ulf said that this car is the earliest one on the registry.