Like many dieters, the Dodge Dart's size has gone up and down over its sixteen-year lifespan from 1960 through 1976. When the Dart was first introduced in midyear 1959, it was based on a large full-size sedan platform meant to contend with sister-company Plymouth's Fury. Offering three different levels of available trim and powerplants, the Dart would swing far ahead of the Plymouth in sales for the '60 model year, even outselling other Dodge marques by a considerable margin. Aimed at the Chevrolet Impalas and Ford Galaxies, the Dart would enjoy success until the following year. A drastic redesign would leave the '61 Dart awkward and ungainly with reversed tailfins, nearly invisible rear taillights, and a concave front grille. Overall sales plummeted by 53 percent.
The Dart would be redesigned from the ground up twice more until 1967, when the then-current manifestation would prove to be one of the most iconic shapes of the little A-Body. By then, the triad of trim levels had lost their individual names, replaced with Dart, GT, and GTS.
In 1968, the Dart came into its own. With avant-garde styling featuring a concave rear window and larger buttress-style C-pillars similar to the larger B-Bodies, and several engine configurations, the Dart could now compete on the track with even the big-block cars. The shorter platform contributed to the Dart's superior handling, and its weight helped with notable acceleration gains over its heavier siblings.
The higher-performance-optioned GTS was available with the 340 or the larger 383 in 1968 and the 440 in 1969. What made the Dart such a player in the musclecar battle was its ability to keep pace with the larger, intermediate-size machines, as well as battle it out with the best ponycars that Ford and the General had to offer. The Dart proved it wasn't massive cubic inches, wild color and stripe combinations, aggressive monikers and name attachments that made a musclecar what it is, it's the combination, and the Dart's combination of an aggressive small-block attached to a stout four-speed and tall gears-all packed into a lightweight body-would always dominate.
Fred Cook's '68 GTS exemplifies this. The Memphis, Tennessee, native has owned this A-Body since 1989 and has tooled on it since the day he took possession. The brunt of the restoration was crammed in during a three-year period, but like any good Mopar project, it is never really finished. Fred owned another green GTS before this one, spending time gathering up the necessary parts for a good "homespun" restoration. But a chance opportunity would land this four-speed A-Body in his hands. The other Dart was sold off, allowing Fred to dive head first into this triple GG1 Dark Green GTS. Fred's aim was to build a GTS Dart the way he would have been able to order it from the factory.