Those of you out there over the age of 40 (or otherwise afflicted with an unhealthy interest in Chrysler history) may remember the original Dodge Dart. For those who aren’t, here’s a brief rundown.
In the late 1950’s, Chrysler’s Dodge division began planning for a vehicle other than Plymouth to compete with the lower-priced Chevrolets and Fords. Since Plymouth was to be spun off in 1960 as a separate division (Dodge dealers had been selling them), Dodge needed its own model.
So in 1960, a model with a lower price and shorter wheelbase than the Dodge Polara was introduced in Dodge new car dealer showrooms – the Dodge Dart.
For the next 16 years, through four generations, the Dart became ever smaller (eventually shrinking from a 118-inch wheelbase to just 110 inches) as it became a platform for everything from a “convertriple” (a hardtop model with a novel-at-the-time folding rear seat and sunroof) all the way up to one equipped with a 375 hp, 440 cubic inch hemi V8 (in 1969).
1976 marked the Dart’s final appearance in the U.S. market.
New Dart for new times
If you stick around the automobile business long enough, however, you come to realize that very rarely is anything ever really new. This was no more evident than this morning when Chrysler announced that making its world debut on January 9th at the Detroit Auto Show will be the “all-new 2013 Dodge Dart.”
According to Chrysler, “With Alfa Romeo DNA and Dodge’s passion for performance at its core, the all-new 2013 Dodge Dart is a thoroughly modern vehicle that’s fuel-efficient, beautifully designed and crafted, agile and brings fun back to driving in the segment. Similar to the Dodge Dart of the late 1960s, the 2013 Dart offers a special blend of style, performance and innovation.”
Marking Dodge’s return to the compact sedan segment after a hiatus of nearly 7 years, the 2013 Dart will be the first Chrysler Group application of Fiat’s Compact U.S. Wide architecture, a version of the company’s Compact platform that underpins the Alfa Romeo Giulietta.
Teaser photos show the Dart will exhibit a stylized version of Dodge’s split-crosshair grille along with projector headlamps and fog lamps in front, while in back the division’s Charger-inspired full-width LED “racetrack” tail lamps and integrated dual exhaust tie it in with its bigger brother.
Along with three transmission alternatives, one of three engine choices will be available to buyers. The base engine is a new “Tigershark” 16-valve 2.0-liter engine, while optional powerplants will include a 16-valve 1.4-liter MultiAir Intercooled Turbo engine as well as a new “Tigershark” 16-valve 2.4-liter MultiAir four cylinder engine.
The 2013 Dodge Dart will be assembled at Chrysler’s Belvidere, Illinois assembly plant which is currently nearing the completion of a $600 million renovation including the installation of new machinery and tooling as well as the construction of a new 638,000 square-foot body shop.