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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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