Aren’t You Glad It Wasn’t Called “Zipp”?
In 1960, the first Dodge Dart was released to the public. It was not the speedy little compact car that we see today. In fact, the first Dodge Dart almost was not called Dart; the bigwigs at Dodge undertook consumer survey and the name “Zipp” was well received. Somehow, the Dart project managers won the battle and Dart became a top seller for several years.
In 1961, the Dodge Dart had three models with unusual options that scream 1960s. The models were given attractive names. Phoenix was the top option, Pioneer was mid-level, and Seneca was the base model. Buyers who wanted the best chose the Phoenix and for good reasons. They could choose from a Slant Six, 318 V8, or a 361 V8 with horsepower listed at 265. These were the most common features that could be found on several other Dodge models.
Probably the most unusual option available on the Dodge Dart was the addition of an RCA record player. Yes, you heard it correctly, a real record player. For easy access and protection of the records, the player was install in a case designed to be shock-proof. For those who know about the lightweight record player arms and their tendency to skip, Dodge made sure the arm was weighted down so it would track with such force that it would not skip – even going over the bumpiest of roads. Sadly, the powerful tracking arm made records (it only played 45s) wear out before they were due.
Along with the unusual record player, the early Darts had rearview mirrors mounted on the dashboard. This seemed to make sense, because drivers could actually see what was happening behind them rather well. The only problem occurred when the back seat was occupied and the rear view was blocked. The design feature was also short lived, lasting only until 1964.