The Dodge Dart was initially launched as a 4-door sedan and was manufactured by the Dodge division of the Chrysler Corporation. Production of this vehicle started in 1960 and went until 1976 in North America. Production did, however, continue past 1976 in certain markets outside of the U.S and Canada. The Dart nameplate was revitalized for an unrelated car which was launched in 2013. The Dart name first appeared in 1957 with a body design from Italian coachbuilder Carrozzeria Ghia. The production version of the Dart was introduced as a low-priced, shorter wheelbase full-size vehicle in 1960 and 1961 but eventually went on to become a mid-size car in 1962.
The first of the Dodge Darts were introduced for the 1960 model year and were developed as replacements of the Plymouth. Both the sedan and coupe versions of the Dart were based on the Plymouth platform and used a 118” wheelbase, which was significantly shorter than the standard-size Dodge line. The station wagons used the traditional 122” wheelbase and upmarket Polara hardtop wagon. There were three different trim levels available with the Dart, including the Seneca (base model), the mid-range Pioneer, and the higher end Phoenix. The new Dart used a new 3.7 liter Slant-6 engine, though there were 5.9 liter V8 engines still available with 2-barrel or 4-barrel carburetors.
The Dart instantly experienced a massive amount of success when it first hit the market. Sales of this vehicle easily beat out those of the full-size Dodge Matador as well as the Dodga Polara. Advertising for this vehicle that took place in 1960 and 1961 compared the Dart to that of the “C” car from Chevrolet, as well as the “F” car from Ford, and the “P” car from Plymouth. As the Dart’s sales began to climb, Plymouth’s sales experienced a slow decline.
The 1976 Dart was the final model to be made available in North America and featured a rear-view mirror that was mounted in the windshield rather than the roof. This vehicle also used front disc brakes which were a standard feature starting in January of 1976 to meet the strict U.S Federal brake performance requirements. There was also a new foot-operated parking brake added to this car to replace the under-dash T-handle which was used since the 1963 model. The Dart Sport 360 came onto the market in 1976 as well, though the four-barrel dual exhaust V8 came as an option.
The A38 Police Package used a production code of A38 and used the highest-specification components as well as systems of any model at the time, featuring a heavy-duty suspension that included a rear sway bar as well as stronger leaf springs and firmer shock absorbers. This car also had larger brakes, maximum engine cooling, and a high-capacity battery and alternator. There was a calibrated speedometer along with a high-intensity dome light and wiring harness for a rooftop light bar, as it was made to be a vehicle for police.
In 1973, there was a “Convertriple” option with the Dart Sport which included a fold-down rear seat/security panel that offered 6’ 5” of space and a manually operated metal sunroof. At the time of its release, this vehicle was marketed as “three cars in one”, including an economy compact, a convertible, and a spacious station wagon because of the fold down rear seat. The Caravan Tan came out in the middle of 1974 with a brand new “Caravan Tan” package which included a desert-hued vinyl bench seat as well as multi-colored stripped inserts and a gold-colored instrument panel. The Dart is definitely considered a classic car and an important vehicle for Dodge.