Sam Brown D/Dart
In January of 2006, I was working as a detective for the Sheriff’s Office when I was called to a dispute in a rural area of our county. Dispatch advised that one of the subjects involved in the dispute was driving a white 1966 Dodge Dart race car. Being a Mopar guy, I of course took notice.
I patrolled the area and found the Dart parked in an entrance to a field, but no one was around. I later found the driver and he came back to the office with me.
The driver turned out to be a great guy. We talked about the Dart on the way to the office and he informed me that it used to be the “Sam Brown Dodge” race car. Well, I knew very well of the Sam Brown Dodge Dart D-Stocker, as it was a bit of a local legend and had disappeared in the late Sixties and had never resurfaced. Some of the people involved in racing the car had been looking for it for 40 years, with no luck.
Because of this car, I had taken an interest in the almost-mythical “D-Darts”, as there were only about 50 of them built and so few of them (at the time around five) had since been found. In fact, I had an 8x10 black and white photo of the Sam Brown Dodge D-Dart hanging on the wall in my office.
When we got to my office, I pointed to the photo on the wall and said, “You mean to tell me your car is THIS car?” He couldn’t believe that I had a picture of the Sam Brown D-Dart on my wall. “Yes, that’s my car!” he said. He bought the car sometime around 1980 from a guy who lived near the Ohio-PA border. The car had been painted all white by that time, but the previous owner told him it used to be the Sam Brown race car.
I always meant to go check his car for the “LO23” VIN, but the weeks turned into years. Finally, in 2009, I stopped at the owner’s house to check his alleged “D-Dart”. The owner took me out to the car and appeared as excited as I was to verify the car. The Dart was sitting in the front yard, was still all white, and appeared to have originally been white. The car was a GT with red bucket seat interior. It also had the 4 speed hump and 4 speed pedals. So far so good. I opened the driver’s door and there it was, the “LO23” in the VIN. As there were only fifty of these made and this car was sitting less than ten miles from the dealership where it had originated, the chances just became very good that this was the Sam Brown D-Dart! I checked along the bottom of the Dart and found several areas below the rocker mouldings where the white painted had flaked off, exposing red paint. This was consistant with the Sam Brown Dodge D-Dart’s as-raced paint scheme.
I took photographs of the car and left. My next step was to contact a gentleman who was working at Patterson Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge in Salem. This gentleman had possession of the original sales ledger book from the long-defunct Sam Brown Dodge. He went home that evening and check the ledger book. Sure enough, that Dart’s VIN was listed in the old Sam Brown Dodge sales ledger book next to the words “Dart Drag Pack”. It was the only car listed that did now show “Sold”, nor did it list a buyer’s name. I obtained a copy of the ledger book page for further documentation.
I then contacted the original driver for the race car, Francis “Krutch” Crider, and told him that I had found the Sam Brown Dodge D-Dart. His reply was, “Prove it!” He said that many people over the years had claimed to have found his old race car, but every lead had proven false
I showed him my proof that I had indeed found his old race car and showed him photos of his old car.
Finally, in the Spring of 2011, I was able to reunite Krutch Crider with his old race car. There were certain modifications that Krutch was looking for to verify this as his old car, but almost 50 years of changes have erased and modified some of Krutch’s original work. In the end, it’s hard to argue with the VIN number. I can’t wait for the day when the current owner starts sanding on the paint and finds remnants of the orginal “SAM BROWN Dodge” on the doors! Hopefully, I’ll be there with a camera when it happens.