Blue Hawaii Cast-Away: 1961 Dodge Phoenix Convertible

Feb 2020 | Classifinds, Topless Thursday

Update: This one got away, but if you have your heart set on something similar, email us the details of what you’re looking for or call Rudy directly at (908)295-7330

The 1961 Dodge Dart Phoenix convertible is a rare one-year-only car with only 1,500 built.  The eclectic owner of this example listed on Craigslist in Manchester, New Hampshire is the caretaker for two of these rare Darts. Claiming to own the powder blue example Elvis Presley used in the 1961 film Blue Hawaii, the caretaker decided he does not need two and is now offering this 80% restored read and white example for $21,500.  According to the Hagerty Insurance Online Valuation Tool , that asking price is $2,400 less than the #2 “Excellent” estimate.  Strong money for an unassembled stalled project that the seller believes you cannot replicate for the same cost today.  

For the 1961 model year, the Dart continued as the smallest full-size Dodge. It retained the 118-inch wheelbase, yet restyled to emulate the larger Polara. The Dart came in three trim levels: the premium Phoenix, mid-range Pioneer, and base Seneca.  Engine choices included the standard 225 cubic inch slant-six, while two V8’s with either 318 cubic inch or 361 cubic inch displacements were also available. Phoenix convertibles were equipped only with V8 engines.  Darts in all series were equipped as standard with three-speed, column-shifted manual transmissions. Chrysler’s pushbutton-shifted TorqueFlite automatic was available at extra cost. The alternator, introduced as standard equipment in 1960 on the Valiant, replaced the previous DC generator on all 1961 Chrysler products.

Virgil Exner’s 1961 styling with its reverse fins, rear fender scalloping (the taillights were widely referred to as “ingrown toenails”), and concave grille proved to be highly unpopular with consumers. The low position and small size of the Dart’s tail lights, just above the corners of the bumper, were also criticized and drivers of following cars complained that they could not see them. The wraparound taillights projected light sideward, not rearward.  By mid-year, Dodge made auxiliary taillights available at extra cost through its dealer network. However, these large round lights were mounted near the inboard side of the reverse fins and aggravated the already awkward styling.[13]

​If you’re a great negotiator and knowledgeable enough to reassemble a car then you have a reasonable chance to finish this long-stalled restoration.  Good luck with the purchase!

Here’s the seller’s description:

“In 1961 Dodge Phoenix was the first and only reverse finned car and it has been a one year only since then until 2020 when both Lexus and the Nissan SUV’s came out with the reverse fin. Of course it is abbreviated because of the size difference.
With only 1500 Phoenix’s built that year, they are very rare and extremely hard to find. You will never find one at any car show you go to, even Hershey has not had but one in the past 15 years.If you look, the price comparison is not even available because there are none to compare it with. SOOOO, knowing this, I went out 15 years ago and found one from Tenn. that was a one owner and 99% rust free which is a miracle. I bought the car and proceeded to effect a restoration. That meant completely dechromed, Dismantled body parts[ doors, hood and trunk, and interior. What little body work needed was done and base coat/ clear coat was done. While the interior was out, the floors were undercoated. About 10 years I found new old stock chrome still in original boxes. I bought it all and eventually got most of it installed. The top was done in black Hartz canvas along with a new top motor and lines and cylinders. The interior is new and done correctly in red and white with all new door panels. It has a 318 cu ” engine and auto push button trans that all work fine. I was doing this car for me so I did not cut corners. THEN, several years ago I heard of the Baby Blue Phoenix convertible that was used in the movie “Blue Hawaii” with Elvis in 1962 and I chased it until I got it.I am probably the only guy in the world that has two 1961 Phoenix Convertibles. The white one has got to go as I must keep the Blue one. I will sell it for what I own it for which is old money. You could never get done what I paid 5 to 15 years ago, especially the NOS chrome.The $20,500 is a bargain with just a little to finish like tires and a few pieces of chrome to install. The dual mirrors, emblems, stainless trim is all installed. I left the interior out and have to reinstall but must get help as I recently got out of the hospital spending six months there. Have some extra parts in nice shape. Have other cars in my collection for sale and I will put some pictures on, They are listed as well so you can look them up. Other cars will be sold. Call if interested or for more information.

Do you have a Plymouth Phoenix story you’d like to share?  Comment below and let us know!

2 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    I bought the white one and had it shipped to Ca. It wasn’t close to the description of having been restored. It’s currently having the under carriage blasted. Must have been stored in a moist garage. It’s gonna be a very cool car and definitely one of a kind. New 6.4 hemi, all new suspension, AC and 4 wheel disc. I’ll be crusin by next summer

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      I almost bought it. In Ca also.

      Reply

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