Project Car That Could Have Been: Discarded 1961 Dodge Lancer Sedan

If you’re looking to get an old Detroit car for a not-heinously-expensive project, something that can accept a bolt-in affordable V8 and lots of off-the-rack reproduction parts, it’s hard to beat the simple, lightweight Chrysler A-Body. From the 1960 model year through 1981 (if you count production in Argentina and Australia), A-Bodies rolled off the showroom floors. Most of us in the United States think of the 1960-1976 Plymouth Valiant and 1963-1976 Dodge Dart when we think of the A-Body, but Chrysler called the 1961-1962 Dodge-badged version the Lancer. Here’s a project-worthy ’61 that somehow ended up here in a Denver-area self-service wrecking yard.

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Under the hood, the legendary Leaning Tower of Power. An LA-series small-block Chrysler (or even its Magnum descendant) could go here with minimal hassle.

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Yes, that’s a floor-shifted three-speed manual transmission; the column-shifted three-on-the-tree setup was much more common for low-priced cars during this era, which makes this car even more cool. Too bad it’s going to be crushed.

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It’s not perfect, but by Rust Belt standards this body is in easily restorable shape. Sure, sedans aren’t as popular as coupes, but we say the Lancer sedan has style.

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If ever a car looked perfect with dog-dish hubcaps, this is it.

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