Project Dart: Shipping a Beached Whale

Welcome fellow DodgeGarage visitors to the first of many stories covering the rebirth of a 1962 Dodge Dart with the unusual Police Pursuit package (identified by the number “9” in the second spot of the VIN plate). Regular readers may remember this car from the Great Texas Mopar® Auction Event, a historic all-online sale of the 280-vehicle estate of the late John Haynie, a Texas-based Mopar fanatic who collected classic mostly Mopar vehicles.

When Mr. Haynie passed away, the cars were sold off during a day-long online-only auction. The entire collection of cars and parts found new homes with buyers all over the country – and world – several cars went to Australia and Canada. One of the cars, the 1962 Dart Police Pursuit, featured in the Great Texas Mopar Auction series, was purchased by yours truly and will be our subject over the coming months.

A significant factor concerning every vehicle sold from the John Haynie estate is that none of them ran. They’re all what vehicle shippers refer to as “push mobiles” or “beached whales”. As such, the cost of shipping them to their new owners was potentially far higher. After all, plenty of added manual labor is needed to load, unload and shuffle inoperable vehicles.

In typical situations when fully operable classic cars need transportation, there are several nationally recognized carriers ready to serve. I called two of them. When I mentioned the Dart’s non-running condition, neither wanted my business – at any reasonable price. The next move was to post my “shipping request” with an online “match making” service intended to connect truckers with potential cargos.

While I expected to pay as much as $2,500 to ship the Dart from Big Spring, Texas, to my rural Massachusetts shop, I was pleasantly surprised when one shipper, AeroAuto Transport of Valley Cottage, New York, quoted just $1,500. I called their dispatcher and made sure they understood the car didn’t run. I also confirmed the fact they carried proper bonding and insurance and a commercial hauling license. No alarms went off, so we made a verbal agreement by phone to move the car cross-country.

There was no down payment, and the car was soon picked up by the driver. One note of caution: Many shippers use large, industrial fork lift trucks to load and unload non-running vehicles onto trailers. If this is the case, always confirm the forks on the forklift are long enough to support the car from rocker panel to rocker panel. In other words, the forks must be at least a foot longer than the total width of the car body.

If a typical warehouse-style forklift is used to move a car (and not the cargo pallets it was designed to lift) the leading tips of the two forks will make contact with the exhaust system, driveshaft and floor pan, warping, denting and piercing everything along the way. It’s a shame to damage an old car during shipping over such an avoidable detail.

If the forks aren’t long enough, don’t lift the car. Instead, make sure the shipper enlists the help of several strong people to manually push and pull your “beached whale” into position on the trailer/hauler. And that’s generally a tall order due to the risk of pulled muscles, twisted ankles and other show-stoppers as the vehicle is muscled around. Did I mention that car haulers really, really don’t like non-running vehicles?

But it all worked out well in our situation – with a last-minute snag – we’ll share as the pictures unfold…

1962 Dodge Dart Police Pursuit

Lots of dust, but virtually no rust, the Dart’s Big Spring, Texas, resting spot was dry enough to prevent serious corrosion despite sitting for at least 20 years. The large 15×6 steel wheels and remnants of black roof paint hint of its Police Pursuit status. The “9” in the second spot of the VIN confirms it. With its flat tires – and missing carburetor – like all of the Haynie estate vehicles, it’s not a driver. So how to get it home to its new Massachusetts home?

1962 Dodge Dart Police Pursuit

It took one week for the transport rig to weave its way from Texas to Massachusetts. Along the way, cars were delivered and picked up in various states. The hauler’s innovative front-loading trailer made it easier to juggle our “beached whale” Dart among the late model vehicles that could be driven on and off. Since the truck arrived after midnight, the driver spent the night in the Freightliner’s comfortable sleeper cab.

1962 Dodge Dart Police Pursuit

Note how the red Freightliner has disconnected from the trailer for easier access to the Dart. A last minute snag arose when the shipper (rightfully) refused to allow me or my five burly helpers to set foot on his ramps. We planned to simply push the Dart off them and roll it a block down the street to my driveway. But the shipper feared one of us might twist an ankle or fall … then sue. This required hiring a local roll-back truck to winch the Dart off the transport trailer. This added another $125 to the process. I also gave the cross-country driver a $100 tip for being a generally good sport. The total transportation cost – from Texas to my Massachusetts driveway – was $1,750.

1962 Dodge Dart Police Pursuit

Touchdown! The Dart made the trip without any problems – except one – the fender tag was lost somewhere along the way. For safe keeping, the tag was placed in a plastic bag and set under the front seat. Who knew there was a large, open rust hole in the same spot? The bag – and tag – fell out and are probably sitting somewhere on Interstate 40. Luckily, a picture was taken of the fender tag before the auction.

1962 Dodge Dart Police Pursuit

Here’s the single picture of the fender tag taken by the auction team’s vehicle inventory team. The snag is how pre-1966 Dodge fender tags are not fully understood by the general de-coding community. Outfits like MMC Detroit can make accurate reproductions. More on this item in future stories.

1962 Dodge Dart Police Pursuit

This 1962 Dart 440 four-door Max Wedge sedan was featured at the 2013 Chryslers at Carlisle show and has the optional Ramcharger 413 engine. Yes, you could get the mighty cross-rammed Ramcharger in a four-door model, though just a handful were built. Most of the 210 Dodge Ramcharger 413s (and 300 Plymouth Super Stock 413s) were installed in two-door sedans for drag strip duty in 1962. Our Dart Police Pursuit – originally built with the base 318 2-barrel V8 – will pack a 513-cubic-inch version of the mighty Ramcharger 413 thanks to the bounty of reproduction Max Wedge parts available today.

1962 Dodge Dart Police Pursuit

Oh, what might have been… Before offering the Haynie estate $5,000 to take the 1962 Dart Police Pursuit out of the auction, I almost chose this car instead. A two-door 1962 Plymouth Slant Six, 3-on-the-tree Savoy in just about the same condition as the Police Dart four-door, I had visions of building a nasty Max Wedge street racer with fender wall headers and the same 513-inch cross-ram wedge planned for the Dart. The major snag was the fact it’s a Plymouth. This is the DodgeGarage. On auction day, it killed me when this ultra-solid unit sold for a mere $316.25. I should have bid on it. Even with the worst-case-scenario $2,500 shipping fee to Massachusetts, it would have been a bargain. I hope the new owner in Asbury, Missouri, builds it into the Max Wedge Super Stock it was born to be.

We’ll be back soon with more progress on our 1962 Dart Police Pursuit project car.

1 Comment


Looking forward to the updates. That dart looks very classy and I like the old school fender designes.