Chrysler is definitely guilty of one thing during its past and that's building some very unique vehicles. From the '55-'56 Dodge La Femme to the Li'l Red Express, there are plenty of rare and noteworthy four-wheeled products. One of these rare people-movers is the Dodge Hang 10 Dart Sport. This appearance package from the mid-'70s was only produced in 1974 and 1975, and seeing one today will bring you back in time. Vince Dmuchowski is the owner of this '75, and he's ready to catch the wave.
Surfing culture really took off in the '60s, thanks in part to the almost endless stream of movies coming out of Hollywood, which glorified the spectacle for all to see. By the '70s, surfing had reached a stable level of respect and had proven to Americans that it wasn't just a phase-it was here to stay. Americans were attracted to the fast-paced yet laid-back culture that idealized the sport. This included its danger, attitude, women, and gear. One of the more synonymous pieces of gear is the "woodie." These wood-bodied station wagons (or steel-bodied ones clad in wood siding) were a big hit amongst surfing youngsters for their practical use and striking good looks. In the mid '70s, however, Dodge was looking to add a new face to the surf scene. Enter the Hang 10 Dart Sport.
The Hang 10 Dart Sport made its debut at the 1973 Chicago Auto Show, where it was displayed on a platform with surfboards and other beach paraphernalia. With the car in its proposed element, the Eggshell White A-Body was dressed in special decals and sewn with a one-of-a-kind interior that attracted show-goers. With the rear seat folded down, the little A-Body could fit a few short boards and still have room for a cooler and maybe a folding chair or two. Ironically, the term Hang Ten comes from longboarding, and this "space" in the Hang 10 couldn't fit a longboard.
The interior is nothing short of a spectacular display of '70s style from the orange shag
The package was a hit, and the following year it went into production for mid-1974, slated as a dealer-installed package. When car shoppers selected the "A63" Hang 10 option, they received orange shag carpeting, multi-colored woven seats, and door panels. The dash and standard console had some red paint, and the exterior received special Hang 10 decals, including a red and blue side stripe featuring a surfer on the rear quarter. All Hang 10s have the fold-down rear seat option and automatic transmissions. From there, buyers could pretty much do whatever they wanted with the options. The Slant-Six was the base engine, but the 318 and 360 with dual exhaust were available. A sunroof, "Tuff" steering wheel, vinyl top, Rallye wheels, and air conditioning could also be added, in addition to many other options. This almost ensures that there isn't a single Hang 10 like one another out there. Sadly, there is no documentation on how many were produced, adding to the allure of its rarity. However, it was discovered that just over 1,000 original decal package sets were ordered by dealers back in the day.
While Vince Dmuchowski may not be a surfer, that didn't hinder him from purchasing his 360-powered Hang 10. When he was only 16, his father made him a promise that whatever he saved for his first car, he would match it. So he took on a job and after only a year, Vince was ready to start shopping. His father was a Mopar nut and managed to pass that onto Vince. "I originally wanted a '74 360 Charger, but my father said I would kill myself," he jests. When the smoke cleared, Vince was the proud owner of a brand-new '74 Swinger with a Slant Six. "Over time I began to make upgrades to the car, adding a two-barrel carburetor, header, dual exhaust, and a rear end out of a V-8 Duster. "I put over 100,000 miles on that car and then decided it was about time I began looking for a V-8."
In 1981, Vince and his family left New Jersey and made their way to Florida. "I saw this car and I really liked the interior, sunroof-and the V-8 power, of course," he says. "It was like those juice commercials, 'I could have had a V-8!' I wanted to hit myself!" He traded his Slant Six in, drove home in the '75 Hang 10, and was eager to learn everything he could about the car. "I collected every piece of literature I could find on Mopars and took particular interest in anything that mentioned the Hang 10 cars." It wasn't until a few years after he bought the car that he realized how rare they were.
With 360 power and a few tweaks, Vince has gone 14.7 at 98 mph in the LA Dart. Vince pride
The curiosity surrounding the car was remarkable. Vince began taking home trophy after trophy at car shows and events he was attending, all while using it as a daily driver and keeping it in great shape. "I love the fact that people come up to me and tell me they have never even seen one of these," he says. "People even think I had the sunroof custom-installed!" One of the more comical moments came when Vince won the award for Best Custom Interior at a car show. "I thanked Chrysler for its design."
To date, Vince's Hang 10 has over 250,000 miles on it. What's more incredible is that it is only his second car, and he's cared for it with such regularity that it doesn't look it one bit. Sure, there are a few battle scars over the years, but that's what happens with a work in progress. Vince jokes around that the restoration has taken him 29 years and will keep going. His garage is filled with restoration parts and every item you could imagine to keep the Dart on the road in excellent mechanical order.
The future of this Hang 10 only involves preservation. Vince tells us that he has plans to restore the interior and possibly put the car on the rotisserie to have it repainted. That's going to be a tough thing to accomplish since they no longer make the Hang 10 decals, but he's found a few ways around that in the past. In the time being, Vince continues to drive the car nearly every day and attends as many shows as he can when he's not on call as an A/C service technician. One thing is clear about this ultra-rare A-Body: It's a unique piece of Mopar history and it's a cool example of a special package available back in the groovy '70s.
The nose decal is standard, but Vince added the twin-scoop hood.
1975 Dodge Dart Sport Hang 10
Owned by: Vince Dmuchowski, Sarasota, Florida
- Engine: With over 250,000 miles, the LA has certainly been rebuilt. Racing Head Service put together a dependable combination to get Vince back on the road and stay there for another quarter-million miles. Speed Pro pistons, Chrysler H-beam rods, and a balanced Chrysler crankshaft make up the rotating assembly. The rebuild increased displacement to 366 cubic inches. The rest of the internals are mostly new stock-style parts, including the cam and cast iron heads. Vince has dedicated many hours to ensuring that his Thermoquad carburetor is in tip-top shape at all times. It's through his close scrutiny of all the mechanical parts that his Dart has been on the road for so long.
- Transmission: USA Transmission in Bradenton, Florida, rebuilt the 727 automatic with a B&M 2,800-stall converter and shift kit, and Vince added a large Police cooler later on. It's shifted with a Pistol Grip handle.
- Rearend: An 8 1/4-inch rearend with 3.21 gears and Sure-Grip differential.
- Suspension: Over the years Vince has added thicker front and rear sway bars, new leaf springs, and gas shocks. He says that the biggest improvements came from the polyurethane bushings and Firm Feel power steering box. He has also found that by using extended length Chrysler Imperial shocks in the rear, wheel hop is eliminated.
- Brakes: Stock power 10.98-inch discs in front and cast iron drums in the rear.
- Wheels and Tires: Stock 15x7 Chrysler Rallye Wheels with 225/60R15 Bridgestone Potenza radials.
- Paint/Body: In 1986, the now defunct Burke's Body Shop in Sarasota, Florida, resprayed the Hang 10 in Eggshell White. Vince added Direct Connection front and rear spoilers and a twin-scoop fiberglass hood. He even modified a set of front and rear aluminum Dart Lite bumper supports to fit his standard Duster. This saved around 80 pounds.
- Interior: International Auto Upholstery in Sarasota recovered the seats, and Vince has maintained the dash and interior panels.
When's the last time you saw a Direct Connection Performance Timer?
Without the subwoofer in the way, the fold-down rear seat allows expanded rear cargo capac