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.

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