FOR MORE THAN FOUR DECADES, THIS 1969 DODGE DART GTS HAS BEEN A PART OF THE TALLEY FAMILY
For more than four decades, this 1969 Dodge Dart GTS has been a part of the Talley family.
Sometimes Mopar Muscle feature cars are hiding in plain sight. That was the case with this rare A-body, owned by John and Charlotte Talley, who split time living in Missouri where they grew up and Southern California where they’re active members of the Drifters Car Club of Southern California. And by hiding in plain sight, I mean I’m a member of the same club and have admired their 1969 Dodge Dart GTS (GT Sport) 383 fourspeed convertible, a car John bought brand new from the Jimmy Mitchell Motors in Aurora, Missouri, in 1972 after it had served time for three years as one of the dealership’s demo cars.
John comes from a Mopar-owning family, and his first car was a 1965 Plymouth Satellite with a 383 automatic that would barely run, bought for $250, that required a self-tune-up performed at the selling dealer. John gave the car to his twin brother and purchased another Belvedere, a 1964 convertible.
While working at a filling station in Kansas City, he saw a 1969 Dodge Dart GTS convertible, a bright yellow one, while on his lunch hour and stopped in to take a look. “Believe it or not,” says John, “the salesman wouldn’t let me take it for a spin without my dad since I was only 16. In retrospect, I understand why. So I called my dad and started talking about the car getting ready to ask him if he’d come to take a look at it with me when he started to laugh. He had already seen and driven the car and said, ‘I don’t think I’d let your brother have it, but I
think you’re responsible enough not to kill yourself in it.’ I have to admit, I may have run the car a few times a little too hard, but I always had sense enough to know where and when to do it.” That was 45 years ago.
Back in the early 1970s, the Talley family was all-in for Mopars. John’s dad, Big Jim, had a four-speed 1967 Chrysler 300 with a 440. His mom, Wyanda, drove a 1969 Plymouth station wagon with a 383. After moving past the 1965 Belvedere, John’s twin brother Jim acquired a 1970 Challenger RT convertible with a 440. John’s younger brother, Jack, owned a 1969 Dodge Super Bee with a 383. John’s sister Debra, not to be left out, drove a 1967 Charger with a 383 while his other sister Jeannie, drove a 1964 Dodge Dart convertible with a Slant-six engine. Driving by the Talley house one would have thought it was a Chrysler-dodge dealership.
When John went to license the car in 1972, he found that it had never been titled. It was a special order for an Aurora, Missouri, car dealership, which he later found out was Jimmy Mitchell Motors. John visited the dealership several years ago, but they had been sold and relocated to a new location and had no records that far back.
From 1972 to 1976 John put over 100,000 miles on the car, and in 1976, he married his high school sweetheart
Charlotte (that’s John and Charlotte in the archive photo in their matching striped shirts). The family became their priority, and the car was relegated to the garage. Moving to new homes, the car moved with them. Charlotte threatened to sell it several times until they could afford to get homes with multiple garages, so the car didn’t sit outside. “My daughter even ratted me out once,” says John. “I took her for a ride and another car came up beside me. I got on it a little bit with her in the car. As soon as we got home she told her mom, ‘Daddy’s car went vroom, vroom.’ That ended those leisurely rides with the daughter. My son is still waiting on me, as he wants me to kick the bucket, so he can inherit the car and smoke the tires off it.”
Eventually, the car went to John’s parents’ home, where my dad had a large garage in a little town called Missouri City, Missouri, along the Missouri River where they lived for many years. Their home had never flooded, even though the river had risen over the years, but never got as high as the house, at least not till 1993. “The water not only flooded the house and garage, but for four days it was under water,” recalls John. It was the worst flood in generations. So, when we pulled it out, it was time to get it restored.”
John’s first stop was to Kearney, Missouri, to a guy by the name of Chris Wilkerson. He was a Chevy specialist and has quite a fine collection himself. But he had never done a Mopar and took it as a challenge to do it. Because of the B9 stamped on the radiator support bracket, Chris thought it was originally painted Dark Blue Poly, which was at variance with the trim tag, clearly showing the Y2 code for Yellow. When the car was restored there was no evidence that the car was ever anything other than Y2 Yellow. (On the day of our photo shoot, fellow Drifters’ member Mark Fletcher explained to John the B9 on the radiator support had nothing to do with the paint code.) For the longest time John figured that the car might’ve been some sort of special order, but such was not the case. Since Chris worked for Ford Motor Company in Claycomo, Missouri, he worked on John’s Dart in his spare time
along with his other projects. The car was finished a year later, in 1994.
The car is part of Galen Govier’s A-body Registry. Govier verified that it is 1 of 34 1969 Dodge Dart GTS 383 convertibles with a four-speed transmission. John’s 383 was rebuilt at the time of the restoration, bored 0.060 over and is now equipped with an Edelbrock intake and Holley carburetor. The dual-point
distributor was changed out for an electronic ignition. John notes that the 906 heads have been reworked with hardened valves. Headers are TTI and the exhaust is 26-inch with turbo-flex mufflers. Transmission is stock 833 fourspeed with a Hurst shifter. The Dart’s rear end is a stock 8.75-inch Sure-grip with a 3.23:1 final drive ratio. Stopping power comes from the optional front disc brakes with drums on the rear end. The car now wears 14-inch Rallye Wheels that came from a 1970 A-body. The interior is stock and was restored at the same time as the exterior, post-flood.
The car holds many great memories for the Talleys over the past 46 years, with the car now approaching its 50th birthday. “I taught my wife how to drive it as she didn’t have a car of her own, and she continued to drive it to school a couple years after I graduated.”
Since being restored, John and Charlotte have put roughly 18,000 miles on the car. They’ve attended many cruises and shows since we belong to a few car clubs, my first in Springfield, Missouri, called Route 66 Mopar Club. I’ve been with the club many years and still belong. “But I decided to complete a much desired item on my bucket list,” says John. “That was to drive my car from the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri, where our home was located until this year, to Murrieta, California, to our daughter’s home, which is also our home now. So, two years ago, I set out to drive the 1,648 miles from Missouri to California. It was great driving down some of old Route 66 that remains. The car’s only hiccup was some bad gas in Winslow, Arizona. After a couple of bottles of STP gas treatment and a fill up in Flagstaff, Arizona, the Dart ran great.”
The car now has its home in Murrieta, California, in his daughter’s garage. He has now joined two additional car clubs in Southern California, the Drifters Car Club in Murrieta and the San Diego Mopar Club. The Talleys have found out that Southern California is the place to be with car shows all-year long. “We won’t forget our ties to our Route 66 Club in Missouri as they are our car family and some truly great people. But, we have met some great car people here too and consider them our family also. Car club families are some of the most caring people and the best of the best. We are excited about this new chapter in our lives to begin making more shows and cruises.”
John notes that their Dart has more sentimental value than anything, and we can never replace it. At about the time this story comes out, the couple will have
been married for 42 years. And this Dart has been a part of their life the entire time together, the little Dart has been an integral part of the journey. They dated when John bought the car, it was with them as they got married, raised three children, and is part of their new life in Southern California. For more than four decades, this car has truly been a member of their family. Not many Mopar enthusiasts can make that claim and is what makes this car so special.