Hagerty readers and Hagerty Drivers Club members share their cherished collector and enthusiast vehicles with us via our contact email, firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re showcasing some of our favorite stories among these submissions. To have your car featured, send complete photography and your story of ownership to the above email address.
Today’s featured ride is a 1964 Dodge Dart station wagon. In its day, this station wagon played a role in a dramatic rise in Dodge’s production numbers: in 1964, the manufacturer delivered 505,094 cars and accounted for 6.2 percent of the U.S. market. The Dart comprised a grand 181,300 of that number across its three trim levels—170, 270, and GT—and five body styles: two- and four-door sedans, two-door hardtop, two-door convertible, and, of course, a station wagon. While the Dodge Dart was no tire-smoking rock star, the station wagon was a champ in another sphere—people-hauling daily transportation. Its options list included sensible, low-drama conveniences like an automatic transmission, power steering, a luggage rack, and, for wagons, a power tailgate window.
However, Dodge may never have intended its Dart station wagon to cause its owner quite as much drama—or fun—as Chris Smigell has experienced with his. After spending 17 years in and out of the shop, Smigell wanted to test the Dart’s road-trip mojo. A Kentucky trip from Lexington to Louisville went smoothly. So did a 200-mile round trip to Lake Cumberland. Then came the big one: a 700-mile round trip to a family wedding.
Smigell’s wife encouraged him. “We went for it,” he writes. “No problems on the way up.” The return trip, however, included more adventure than the couple expected. The last 150 miles included nothing but one electrical problem after another, and jump starts from helpful strangers in gas stations and Best Western parking lots. Finally, Smigell found a shop that thought it could tackle the 56-year-old machine. About 2.5 hours and one alternator later, the couple was on the road home and made it safely.
“The dreaded breakdown,” Smigell reminisces. “It was nerve-wracking and costly. My ego was hurt.”
Will he ever take the Dart to Detroit again? “My wife says no,” he admits. “Hmmm … it was fun … ”
Hats off to you, Chris. Here’s to more adventures!