The 1962, 1963, 1964 Dodge Standard struggled for sales numbers. Plymouth, though, fell to eighth in 1962 model-year production, its lowest rank ever. Dodge managed to remain ninth despite building 39,000 fewer cars than it had in 1961, but would have fared worse had it not revived a true full-size model at midyear. Despite a short selling season, this 122-inch-wheelbase hybrid called Custom 880 accounted for over 17,000 sales.
Most 1962 Dodge standards were called Darts, after the division's successful full-size 1960-1961 junior line. These included base two- and four-door sedans and a four-door wagon, the same plus a hardtop coupe in midrange 330 trim, and a 440 four-door sedan, wagon, hardtop coupe and sedan, and convertible.
Topping the list were bucket-seat Polara 500 convertible, hardtop coupe and (later in the year) hardtop sedan. Darts could be ordered with a 225-cubic-inch Slant Six, or 318 and 361 V-8s; Polaras came with the 361. All models offered big 413 wedgehead V-8s with up to 420 mighty horsepower, courtesy of Ram Induction manifolding.
Funny they may have looked, but the lightest high-power Darts were soon taken very seriously on drag strips, where they trounced bigger, heavier rivals.
The 1963s put on some 45 pounds while growing three inches in wheelbase to 119 inches, thus matching full-size Chevrolets and Fords. Exner, in one of his last jobs at Chrysler (he left in 1962), applied square, Thunderbird-style rooflines to hardtops and a slightly less bizarre "face" to all models.
Dart transferred to Dodge's 1963 compact line (replacing Lancer), so standards became 330, 440, Polara, and Polara 500 models without a sub-marque name.
The 361 and 413 engines departed. Polara's standard V-8 was a 318; 500s came with a 305-horse 383. But the big news -- literally -- was a squadron of 426 wedgeheads for the quarter-mile crowd, with up to 425 bhp in twin-four-barrel, ultra-high-compression (13.5:1) "Ram Charger" tune.
Dodge leapt to seventh in industry production as model-year volume soared some 194,000, though most of this came from the handsome new compact Dart.
With ex-Lincoln designer Elwood Engel firmly in charge of 1964 styling, Dodge standards were fully reskinned, becoming cleaner and more conventional. Styling cues included a slightly lower cowl, the first of Dodge's distinctive "dumbbell" grilles, and a rakish new hardtop roofline with vee'd C-pillars and "bubbled" backlight.
Models and engines stood basically pat. Chrysler as a whole now climbed out of its early-1960s financial hole, and Dodge claimed sixth in production with over half a million cars -- almost twice its volume of just two model years earlier.
In all, these Dodges emerge as a classic case of sows' ears being made into profitable silk purses. And with yet another restyle, they would sell even better for 1965 under the revived Coronet badge, which testifies to their inherent design qualities. Too bad they still get such a bad rap, but that's what poor timing and oddball looks will do.
Keep reading to learn about the specifications of the 1962-1964 Dodge "Standard".