Stunning 1961 Dodge Dart Pioneer Flexes Rare Long Ram Induction Setup

Discontinued in 1976, the old Dodge Dart is mainly known as the company's bread-and-butter compact during the muscle car era. However, the Dart was downsized twice before it joined the said segment. The nameplate was initially introduced for the 1960 model year as a low-priced full-size.
1961 Dodge Dart Pioneer 10 photos
Photo: Rocket Restorations/YouTube
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Slotted between the Plymouth full-size car and the more upmarket Polara in the Chrysler range, the original Dart was reassigned to midsize duty in 1962. That change didn't last long either, as Dodge decided to use the Dart to replace its first-ever compact, the Lancer, for the 1963 model year. The compact version became quite famous and overshadowed the early full-size Dart.

Why am I talking about a land yacht very few people remember? Well, for starters, I'm a big fan of the early 1960s Chrysler design language. Yes, I know 1961-1962 Mopars look a bit strange and controversial, but that's precisely why I love them. And the 1961 Dart is the finest example of the era thanks to its unusual fin design and V-shaped taillights modeled around the corners of the rear bumper.

It's a car we rarely see on public roads nowadays. And that's because they don't get the love they deserve, and most are rotting away in junkyards. This metallic blue example is perhaps one of fewer than 50 units that still run and drive today and one of only a dozen that have been restored to Concours-ready condition.

But that's not the only thing that makes this 2023 MCACN display piece special. This Dart Pioneer also rocks a rare engine setup under the hood. I'm talking about a V8 fitted with a long ram induction system.

Developed by a group of young Chrysler engineers who formed a club named the Ramchargers, the ram induction was short-lived. Originally tested in a drag car, it found its way into production vehicles in 1960 in long-ram and short-ram manifold versions. It was discontinued only four years later.

And unlike the somewhat related Max Wedge setup, the ram induction never caught on in racing applications due to their specific tuning for peak torque rather than horsepower.

Chrysler used ram induction on three engines of the B- and RB-block variety. The Dodges and the Plymouths got the 361- and 383-cubic-inch (5.9- and 6.3-liter versions). They were marketed as the D-500 Ram Induction and Sonoramic Commando, respectively. Chrysler, on the other hand, adopted the system for the bigger 413-cubic-inch (6.8-liter) Golden Lion engines offered in the range-topping 300 "letter series."

This finely restored Dart appears to feature a 383-cubic-inch V8 with a long ram setup. The mill was factory-rated at 345 horsepower, which was quite impressive for an era when only a handful of production cars delivered close to 400 horses. On the flip side, there is no info on whether this engine is original.

But even if it's not, this Dart Pioneer is still a rare gem in this condition. And the color combination makes it a tremendous display piece next to more famous classic cars from the era.

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About the author: Ciprian Florea
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Ask Ciprian about cars and he'll reveal an obsession with classics and an annoyance with modern design cues. Read his articles and you'll understand why his ideal SUV is the 1969 Chevrolet K5 Blazer.
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