Service Excellence

'62 DART RAN MID-12S THEN, LOOKS JUST AS QUICK NOW

TEXT: SCOTT ROSS PHOTOS: RANDY BOLIG

rom one of the biggest perceived screw-ups in Ma Mopar's history emerged a lineup of "full-sized" cars that were considered hideously ugly by some, but were really a neat feat of engineering and became a vital part of both the Dodge and Plymouth line-ups for many years.

That screw-up? Downsizing the all-new-for-'62 "S-Body" platform that Dodge and Plymouth would share, one year before the start of production—but one year after the designs were finalized.

In the summer of 1960, newly-appointed Chrysler President William Newberg was at a

Detroit-area social event when he overheard some Chevrolet execs talking about the new "small Chevy" that was in the works for '62. With this info, and knowledge that Ford was bringing out cars sized between their compacts and full-size models, Newberg ordered that the S-Body Plymouth and Dodge be shrunk—drastically.

Dodge tried to put the best spin on it, calling it "The Lean New Breed of Dodge!" On the day the '62 Mopars were shown to the dealers, a dozen Dodge dealers quit on the spot. They'd had trouble selling the '61s, with their weird-looking "reversed" fins, and they saw this...this...thing as something they'd never sell. The remaining dealers told Ma Mopar in no uncertain terms to

The original 413 block was replaced early in the '62's lifetime, but the rest of the .

engine components are either original or era-correct.

FAR LEFT ► Custom-bent steel tube headers make the most of the early B-Body's limited room via their fenderwell exit.

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