The Dodge Dart is an automobile built by the Dodge division of the Chrysler Corporation (currently Fiat Chrysler Automobiles or FCA). In the United States, it was manufactured from 1960 to 1976 and from 2013 to 2016. Outside of the North America, after Dodge discontinued the Dart in 1976, Chrysler did continue to use the Dart nameplate up until 1982 in Mexico and up until 1989 in Brazil on E, F and M bodies.
Chrysler had originally applied the "Dart" name to Chrysler's 1956 concept show car. The Dart concept car was designed by famed Chrysler visionary and designer Virgil Exner in collaboration with Carrozzeria Ghia and was built by Ghia. It was very aerodynamic and finely tuned in one of Europe's largest wind tunnels. At the time of its construction, it was the most aerodynamic car in existence. It had less than one-third the air drag of any other passenger car on the road.
The first Dodge Dart was introduced for the 1960 model year. It was a reduced sized full size car developed to replace Plymouth as the low-price automobile in the Chrysler brand line-up. The Dart had a shorter wheelbase than the standard-size Dodge line, and was based on the Plymouth platform. The Dart line was divided into three trim levels: the basic Seneca, the mid-range Pioneer, and the premium Phoenix.
Three engines were available: the brand new 225 cubic inch slant six, making its debut, was standard on Seneca and Pioneer, while the 318 cubic inch Red Ram V8 (with twin-barrel carburetor) was available as an option. The 318 cubic inch Red Ram V8 (with twin-barrel carburetor) was standard on the Phoenix with the option to upgrade to a four-barrel carburetor or the 383 c.i. D-500 V8 with Ram Manifold Special Performance Equipment Package. The downgrade to the 225 Slant 6 was also an option for the Phoenix trim Dart in 1960.
The 1961 Dart was restyled inside and out to resemble the styling of the Dodge Polara. The interior of the car featured new nylon and rayon fabrics, a distinctive instrument panel, a new door trim design, color-keyed steering wheels, and new, contemporary color combinations. The front end featured a wide concave aluminum grille which encircled the dual headlights. Projections at the ends of the wrap-around front bumper provided housings for the parking lights. A newly designed hood had simulated louvers near the base of the windshield. Horizontally styled tail lights with flush lenses were positioned directly above the massive rear bumper.
Styling aside, the new Dart was on an all-new lightweight unibody platform, featuring Chrysler's well-received torsion-bar front suspension and asymmetric leaf springs. The rigidity gained through the nearly pure unibody platform combined with the suspension's low unsprung weight and near-ideal geometry provided sound handling, braking, and acceleration; the latter especially with the mid-year 415 hp (309 kW) "Ramcharger" 413 cu in (6.8 L) V8 which was aimed primarily at sanctioned drag racing, where it quickly broke performance records.
In 1962, the large size Dodge Dart body was once again redesigned and downsized. The 1962 models would be Virgil Exner's last model year as designer for Chrysler. The new Dart was on an all-new lightweight unibody platform, featuring Chrysler's well-received torsion-bar front suspension and asymmetric leaf springs. The rigidity gained through the nearly pure unibody platform combined with the suspension's low unsprung weight and near-ideal geometry provided sound handling, braking, and acceleration
The 1962 Dart was available as a 2- or 4-door sedan, a 2-door hardtop coupe, a station wagon, and a convertible. Three trim levels were offered: the low-spec 170, the high-spec 270, and the premium GT, which was available only as a 2-door hardtop coupe or convertible.
The 170ci Slant 6 was the standard equipment motor. The optional 225 cu in Slant-6 was available for fifty dollars. Dodge also offered the 413 cubic inch Max Wedge V8 for the Dart at an upgrade price of only $347.40.
In 1963, the large size Dodge Dart body was discontinued and the Dodge Dart replaced the smaller body Plymouth Valiant's Dodge twin, the Lancer. The Dart and the Valiant would share the same basic body styles until Chrysler discontinued both model names (in North America under the Dodge and Plymouth brand names) in 1976.
The 1963 Dart was designed by Elwood Engle. It was a much cleaner and simpler design than the cars designed by Exner.
The Dart was available as a 2- or 4-door sedan, a 2-door hardtop coupe, a station wagon, and a convertible. Three trim levels were offered: the low-spec 170, the high-spec 270, and the premium GT, which was available only as a 2-door hardtop coupe or convertible.
For 1964, there were only minor changes to the body style. The '64 Dart sported a convex grille and larger rear window. 1964 was the 50th anniversary for Dodge and all Dodge models were marked as anniversary models.
The 1964 Dodge Dart GT picked up some extra performance with the addition of Chrysler's 273 cid V8 offering 180 bhp. There were not any V8 options available for the 1963 Dodge Darts.
The 1965 Dodge Dart was given a minor facelift with a new front clip and oval taillights.
The special edition Dart Charger, which is a very rare model, was offered in 1965 as a precursor to the 1966 Dodge Charger. Based on the Dart GT, it came with a 273 4bbl V8, glass-pack mufflers, heavy duty suspension, 13X6 Cragar mag wheels and complete with special Charger badging. All of them were soft yellow with a black top and black interior. Only 180 were built at the factory with an additional 300 that were dealer kit installed.
Other trims available in 1965 were the GT 2-Door Hardtop, GT Cabriolet, 2-Door Hardtop, Cabriolet, 2-Door Sedan, 4-Door Sedan and the 4-Door Station Wagon.
The Dart received another facelift in 1966 that included a new more agressive square front clip, similar to the new Dodge Charger. The headlight bezels and grille were now rectangular.
The interior featured a new gauge cluster that was rectangular rather than circular. The GT models got new bucket seats, with a vinyl cover metal back, and a full length console.
Underneath, the ball and trunion front joint was replaced with a more common U-joint and the 904 transmissions were now shifted with linkages instead of cables. Manual transmissions used an Inland shifter. The only change to the suspension was an optional, small front sway-bar.
The Dart and its sister model, the Plymouth Valiant, were substantially redesigned for the 1967 model year. This incarnation of the a-body would be the body style that all Dodge Darts and Plymouth Valiants would evolve from until Chrysler discontinued the a-body in 1976 (1981 in South America).
In addition to new styling, the cars received revised steering systems, wider front track and frame rail spacing, and redesigned K-members capable of accepting larger engines.
Chrysler discontinued the Dart Stationwagon and replaced it with the larger b-body Dodge Coronet Stationwagon in 1967.
Dodge introduced a new GTS trim for its Dodge Dart line to compete against Chevy's Nova SS. The hot GTS was available with either a standard 340 cid V8 with 275 bhp or an optional 383 V8 with 300 bhp. Coupled with its light 3,000 pound curb weight, the Dodge Dart GTS did very well on the street and the track
The park/turn lights in the grille were moved slightly inboard and made round. Side marker lights lights were added to the front fenders and rear quarter panels, to comply with newly introduced Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 108.
Fifty specially-equipped "Hemi Dart" models were built under subcontract by Hurst for NHRA SS/B and SS/BA drag racing classes.
In 1969, the two-door sedan was replaced with the Swinger model, a two-door hardtop. Also introduced was the Dart Swinger 340. The Swinger 340 was equipped with a a 340 cubic inch V8. The other two-door models were the 270 Custom, GT, GTS and GTS Convertible. The limited edition Dart GTS came from the factory with the 440 V8.
Four-door models were the Dart Base 4-Door Sedan and Dart 270-Custom Sedan.
The entire 1969 Dart range received trim updates including another minor revision of the grille, and a return to rectangular park/turn lights. The 1968 round side marker lights were replaced with rectangular reflectors. Head restraints were optional equipment until January 1, 1969, when their installation became mandatory under federal law.
The Dart was refreshed for 1970 with front and rear changes designed to bring the car closer to the design themes found in Dodge's full-size vehicles through grille and contour changes. The revised rear styling cut trunk space almost in half compared to the 1969 model.
The Swinger name was applied to all the Dart two-door hardtops except in the high-line Custom series. The GT, GTS and convertible were discontinued.
The only performance model for 1970 was the Swinger 340. It was powered by the 340 4-barrel V8, and outfitted with non-functional hood scoops and 340 decals
1971 saw the introduction of the Dart Demon, the Dodge version of the Plymouth Valiant's fastback body, the Duster. The Swinger 340 was replaced with the Demon 340.
The Demon 340's options included a dual-scoop matte-black hood complete with hood pins, rear spoiler, "Tuff" steering wheel, four-speed manual transmission, TorqueFlite automatic, or upgraded interior.
Mid-year the Demon Sizzler became available, it came with the standard options of the Demon (198 Slant 6, manual 3-speed) but included the but added the trim pieces of the Demon 340.
The Custom 2-door hardtop coupe became the Swinger, and the standard Swinger became the Swinger Special.
In 1971, the Dodge Dart's were the first automobile to offer the player/recorder for the new audio format, the cassette tape, as an option, replacing the 8-track tape player in cars. This unit offered an available microphone in which one could record their own dictation.
Changes for 1972 included a revised grille without the central divider. The sidemarker lights were now surface-mounted rather than previous flush-mounted units. The dash sported a a new instrument cluster featuring a large rectangular speedometer and several small round gauges . The AM/FM radio option returned and the option for an inside hood release was introduced.
The Demon had new fender-mounted metal "Demon" badges without the small devil character on the 1971 decals. The "Demon" decal on the rear of the car was replaced by DODGE and DART emblems on the lower right edge of the deck lid.
Because of governmental emissions equipment regulations, the 340 V8 was now rated at 240 bhp SAE Net as opposed to the previous year's 275 bhp SAE Gross.
1973 Darts got new front styling with revised fenders, grille, header panel, and hood. Massive heavier duty front bumpers were installed to comply with new federal government regulations, as well as side-impact guard beams in the doors and new government required emission control devices. Electronic ignition was now standard on all engines, and starter motors were revised for faster engine cranking. An electric heated defroster was available for the rear window.
The Dart Demon name was changed to Dart Sport. The Dart Sport received the same new front end as the other Darts, and its taillights were changed to two lights per side, each with a chrome trim ring. These would remain unchanged through the 1976 model year.
Due to even more U.S. federal government regulations, the 1974 Darts receieved even heavier bigger rear bumpers. Taillights were larger than in 1973 and were above the bumper rather than part of it. Shoulder and lap belts were finally combined in all Chrysler products into a retractable, inertia-sensitive, single-buckle design Chrysler called "Unibelt", replacing the difficult-to-use separate lap and shoulder belts that had been installed through 1973.
Dodge introduced the Dart SE (Special Edition) in mid-1974 as a four-door sedan and two-door hardtop. The SE included velour high back bucket seats with folding armrest, carpeted door panels, woodgrain instrument panel and deluxe wheel covers along with a TorqueFlite automatic transmission as standard equipment.
For 1974, the "Convertriple" option on the Dart Sport included a fold-down rear seat/security panel offering 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m) of lengthwise space, and a manually operated metal sunroof. It was advertised as "Three Cars In One": an economy compact, a convertible alternative with a sunroof, and a roomy station wagon alternative thanks to the fold down rear seat
Aside from a new grille, the 1975 models were virtually identical to the 1974s, except that California and certain high-altitude models were equipped with catalytic converters and so required unleaded gasoline.
Dodge introduced the Dart SE (Special Edition) in mid-1974 as a four-door sedan and two-door hardtop. The SE included velour high back bucket seats with folding armrest, carpeted door panels, wood grain instrument panel and deluxe wheel covers along with a TorqueFlite automatic transmission as standard equipment.
Base engine on all models was the 225 slant six or 318 V8. The Dart Sport 340 was replace by the Dart Sport 360 which was fitted with the more emission friendly 360 cid V8.
Standard features included: economy rear axle, resonator, two-speed electric wipers. Factory cruise control was now available as an option.
1976 would be the last car in North America named the Dart for more than 35 years.
The rear-view mirror was mounted on the windshield rather than from the roof. Front disc brakes became standard equipment on 1 January 1976 in accord with more stringent U.S. Government Federal brake performance requirements, and a new foot-operated parking brake replaced the under-dash T-handle used since the Dart's 1963 introduction as a compact car. The grille's parking lamps were cast in amber, whereas the previous years had clear lenses with amber-colored bulbs.
The Dart Sport 360 was dropped.
In 2009, Chrysler and Fiat formed an alliance with Fiat holding a majority stake of 58% of Chrysler.
The 2013 Dodge Dart, a four door compact sedan, was debuted at the 2012 North American International Auto Show on January 9, 2012. It is a based on the Alfa Romeo Giulietta platform, a four door hatchback, but with completely reworked sheet metal. It is 1.5 inches wider and 3.7 inches longer.
According to Reid Bigland, CEO of Dodge, "The 2013 Dodge Dart will fulfil the basic mission of the original: to be a relatively upmarket compact car, selling at a small premium but delivering a better driver experience than its competitors. It would fulfil that mission even without the numerous 'not normal on compact cars' features."
Six trim levels are offered for the 2013 Dodge Dart:
Also available in a limited production run of only 500 cars was the Mopar Edition. It was a Limited black with a blue racing stripe that ran over the hood, roof and trunk. It also has special factory custom leather interior.
For the 2014 Dodge Dart line up, the 2.4 liter Tigershark MultiAir® II engine is the standard motor for the SXT, Rallye, Limited and the GT. The standard motor for the SE is the 2.0L 160-hp Tigershark, and the 1.4L MultiAir® Turbo is the standard engine in the Aero. There is no option to upgrade to the 2.4l for the SE or Aero.
The Dart SE was upgraded with more standard features, and a Convenience Group to bring it roughly to old-SXT status.
The Dart SXT includes the racetrack tail lamps, underbody aero kit, voice control, filtered air conditioning, and other conveniences.
The Dart Rallye is an SXT package, with a touring suspension, black 17-inch wheels and grille, dual exhaust, fog lamps, striped cloth seats, audio controls on the steering wheel.
In 2015, changes are very minor. The colors "Laser Blue", "Vitamin C" and "Passion Red" are introduced. SE buyers can get air conditioning and power equipment. The SXT adds a new 16 inch aluminium wheel.
The 2016 Dart GT receives a hood with a scoop that is similar to the 2013 Dart GTS Concept car.
The SE is only available with a 2.0-Liter I4 DOHC motor. The Aero is only available with the 1.4-Liter I4 16-Valve MultiAir® Turbo engine.
Due to government mandates, the 2.4 liter Tigershark MultiAir® II engine (available in the GT, SXT and Limited) is no longer available for sale in California, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. Instead it is replaced by the 2.4L PZEV MultiAir® I4 with an automatic transmission. A manual transmission is not even an option at all with the 2.4L PZEV MultiAir® I4.
The Blacktop trim package is available for the GT and SXT. The Blacktop package includes 18-Inch x 7.5-Inch Gloss Black 10-Spoke Alum Wheels, 225/40R18XL All Season Tires, Black Fog Lamp Spear and Bezel, Gloss Black Exterior Mirrors
Unfortunately, the Dodge Dart has disappeared again.
In 2016 FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) decided to expand the Fiat and Alfa Romeo brands in North America and bring in Alfa Romeo's and Fiat's mid-size compacts (Fiat Tipo, Alfa Romeo Giulia and Alfa Romeo Giulietta ) to the American market by the end of 2017 (as of 2020, Fiat has yet to bring the Fiat Tipo to North America), they discontinued production of the Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200 so that they would not be competing with themselves.
As of the 2020 model year, FCA has yet to bring the Fiat Tipo and Alfa Romeo Giulietta to North America. Dodge continues to remain without a small/mid-size entry level automobile similar to the Dodge Dart. However, there are rumblings that FCA may bring the Mexican Dodge Neon to the U.S. and Canadian markets for the 2021 model year.
In North America, between 1977 and 2012, the Dart name did not exist in the Dodge model range. Even though there were not any cars named the Dart, nor any a-body models, there were still models that can be considered direct descendants of the a-body Doge Darts since they share the same character heritage linage as the Darts.
These models are the automotive evolutionary chain between the 1976 Dodge Dart and the 2013 Dodge Dart:
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