In 1974, Richard Nixon was forced to resign as President after the Watergate scandal and a series of tornadoes left more than 300 people dead and over 5,000 injured. Inflation spiraled out of control due to the global recession and a new 55-mph (89-kph) speed limit was introduced to help save fuel.The U.S. automotive market wasn’t doing great either. New fuel consumption and emission regulations sent high-power big-block V8 engines into the history books and put an end to high-performance cars. Once a beloved muscle car with more than 300 horsepower, the Ford Mustang morphed into a fancied-up Pinto that wasn’t available with a V8 in its first year on the market.
But it wasn’t all gloom and doom. While muscle cars were no longer a thing, compact automobiles were selling like hotcakes. Mopar-made A-Body cars, for instance, moved more than 550,000 units in 1974. With the Plymouth compacts far more popular, Dodge was looking for ways to increase Dart sales and introduced a series of limited-edition models and special packages in the mid-1970s.
The Dart SE arrived as a more premium take on the compact, while the Convertriple package, which included a fold-down rear seat/security panel, gave the Mopar a 77.2-inch-long (two-meter-long) trunk area. The latter also spawned the Dart “Hang 10,” a car aimed at surfers and one of Dodge’s ways to determine consumer preferences at the time. And as you might have already guessed, the Convertriple option provided room for a surfboard to be loaded through the trunk.
The “Hang 10” also came with a unique stripe package. A pair of red and blue stripes ran the entire length of the beltline, ending in wave-riding surfer graphics on the quarter panels. A similar design with “Hang 10” lettering adorned the rear fascia, while the front hood featured surfboard-shaped graphics in red, white, and blue. The surf theme continued inside the cabin with orange shag carpet on the floor, orange accents on the dashboard and center console, and striped swimsuit fabric on the seats and door panels.
A rather exotic offering at the time, the Dart “Hang 10” wasn’t exactly popular. Dodge sold only about 700 examples in 1974 and early 1975, which was less than 1% percent of total Dart production for the 1974 model year. Most of them were ordered with 225-cubic-inch (3.7-liter) inline-six and 318-cubic-inch (5.2-liter) V8 engines.
Come 2023 and the “Hang 10” is one of the rarest Mopars from the mid-1970s. Sure, they’re not super expensive when they pop up for sale, but you’d need a ton of luck to find one that’s still in one piece. The example you see here is not for sale but it’s one of those lucky units that got restored to original specifications. And yes, there’s shag carpet, swimsuit upholstery, and even a matching surfboard in the trunk.
The restoration took a whopping five years. That is way more than most enthusiasts are looking to spend working on a Malaise-era Dart, but this “Hang 10” turned out gorgeous. And it might just be one of a handful in this condition out there.