Surfing in America really became a cultural force to be reckoned with in the Sixties. Of course, there was a decades-long history of great cross-pollination with greats like Hawaiian Duke Kahanamoku surf riding with visiting Americans in the Twenties, Greg Noll and his buds from Southern California shaping boards and a young surf industry in the Fifties…the list goes on. But the Sixties was the decade when surfing was discovered by Hollywood and the rest is pop culture history.
But the Seventies is our favorite decade of surfing. That was a time when Gidget finally went off to school to get her MRS. degree and left surfing to go back underground. Or, at least, drag its carcass back out of the limelight and get back to living the binger-hazed bohemian lifestyle it always was. Gerry Lopez and his Lightning Bolt boards, Jeff Ho and Zephyr Surf Shop, the skateboard scene seeding from it all, Art Brewer and the surf tribes that were linking up with others on the West Coast, the Pacific and Australia…it was a time of innovation, but it was also a time of strengthening the core underground.
And, if we’re talking about the core underground here, we can’t help but talk about the really cool cousin of the Big Three family who decided to blow off college and live in a sweat yurt for a couple years; Chrysler.
Chrysler has always been known for going its own way and coming up with some fairly rad stuff that its cousins would never dare: the Hang Ten edition Dodge Dart, for instance. While surfing was shedding its goof-ball image from its involuntary Von Zipper days, its halcyon-yet-hardcore era was in full swing and only Dodge would dare align itself in some small, weird way with what we claim as the real glory days of the culture.
For ’74 and ’75, Dodge made about 500 sets of Hang Ten decals and interior kits for its Dodge Dart and quietly sold them to just about zero fanfair. A white A-Body with a standard 318, an exercise in extreme restraint (for Chrysler standards) was applied to the Hang Ten Dart graphics and the whole thing was so quietly weird that we just love the edition that much more.
Which begs the question: who, at Chrysler, brought back a pillow case full of Acapulco Gold from their trip ’round the Hippy Circuit in ’73 and got the Hang Ten edition through the pipes and out to the showrooms? We’d really like to meet that guy – there’s GOT to be some great backstory that manifested itself into this rare trim package-among-rare trim packages. In the meantime, enjoy – and if you find one of these at a junkyard, let us know, will you?