'74-'76 Duster/Dart Sport
Why do A-Body lovers hold the '73-and-earlier Duster, Demon, and Dart Sport in higher regard than the later-model ones? Two words: back bumper. The '74-and-later ones had the bigger piece of crunch chrome in back to meet the Feds' 5-mph-impact-without-damage bumper standard. That, and power was down in the 340 compared with the early ones, and the 360 of 1975 and 1976 was overburdened with low compression, extra car weight, and about 4 miles of vacuum lines under the hood.

If you're a VIN-code treasure hunter, look for the letter "L" as the fifth character, signifying the E58 Carter ThermoQuad-equipped 360. They also came standard with orange air cleaners, 727s, 831/44 rearends, full dual exhausts with no catalytic converters, and-if they're still at all stock-they will sound like the Bluesmobile when you turn the key.

You're more likely to find Slant Six or 318-powered late-model Dusters and Dart Sports, so keep your eyes open for the one(s) in the best condition, with the least amount of collision damage or rust. Especially look for the ones with the Spacemaker Pak-the fold-down rear seat, as well as the manually cranked factory sunroof. Whether you keep it original or go the modified route, it depends on you, and if the mechanical parts you may need are still reasonably available.

'64-'70 Dodge A-Series pickups/vans
The Dodge Boys weren't going to get beat in a sales race that they weren't entered in, so in 1964, they jumped into the compact-truck market in a big way. The A-Series trucks were short on the outside, roomy on the inside, Slant Six-powered, and they made for ideal rolling tool chests/parts depots/billboards for crafts-and-trades folks. They also made for outrageous wheelstanders at the dragstrip, most notably Bill "Maverick" Golden's line of Little Red Wagons.

Still, with even a 170-inch Slant Six for power, an A-100 pickup is no slouch, and with a 225, or the later 273 V-8, it scoots right along. (Imagine one with a 340!) In van form, there were short- and long-wheelbase versions, with the Sportsman appearing in 1964 as Chrysler's first passenger van.

Like any used truck, the less beat on they are and the less rust/crash damage they have, the fewer headaches you'll have when you make one your next project.