The Dodge Dart was an automobile built by Dodge from 1960 to 1976. And after a 37 year absence, it returned in 2013 in North America markets. Much like the 2013 Dart, the first production Dart was introduced as an entry level lower-priced Dodge in 1960. Over the course of it’s life, it would become a mid-size car and than a compact car. From 1963 to 1976, the Dart became known for its durability and practicality. However, the Dart did experience some growing pains.
First Generation 1960-1962 Dodge Dart
Introduces in 1960, the first Dart were reduced-size large cars that were to replace the Plymouth as the low-priced car in the Dodge showrooms. Dodge dealers had been selling Plymouths since 1930, but corporate restructuring took Plymouth away from the Dodge dealers. The Dart sedans and coupes were based on the Plymouth platform and had a 118 inch wheelbase, shorter than the standard Dodge. While the Dart station wagons had the same 122 inch wheelbase as the upmarket Dodge Polara. The initial Dart line was offered in three trim levels: the basic Seneca, mid-range Pioneer, and premium Phoenix.
Second Generation 1962 Dodge Dart
To combat Dodge’s sinking sales and also based on a belief that standard models cars were being downsized, Dodge downsized the Dart for 1962. The Dart’s was transferred to Dodge’s all new unibody “B” platform, with Chrysler’s “Torsion-Aire” front suspension. While 1962 would be the only year for the B-platform Dart, the Chrysler Corporation would use the B-platform through the 1981 R-body cars, with very slight modifications. The downsized 1962 Darts did away with the Seneca, Pioneer, and Phoenix trim levels and instead were offered as the Dart, Dart 330, and Dart 440. However, the Dodge dealers were not happy with the downsized Dodges.
Third Generation 1963-1966
To reverse course from the 1962 mishap, the Dart was again all new in 1963. The 1963 was a newly designated “senior compact”, with a wheelbase that grew from 106.5 inches to 111 inches. The new longer wheelbase Dart used the same A-body suspension of the Valiant, which would underpin all Darts from 1963 to 1976 except the 1963–1966 station wagons. The 1963-1966 Darts were available as a 2- or 4-door sedan, a 2-door hardtop coupe, a station wagon, and a convertible. Dodge finally got the Dart right. This generation of the Dart was an instant market success. 1963 sales were up sharply compared to those of the 1962. The Dart would remained extremely popular through the end of its production in 1976. See our separate post for a model overview of the 1963-1966 Dodge Dart.
Fourth Generation 1967-1976 Dodge Dart
The Dart along with its sister model, the Plymouth Valiant, were substantially redesigned for the 1967. The cars received new styling, revised steering systems, wider front track and frame rail spacing, and redesigned K-members capable of accepting larger engines. The Dart would would continue in this form until the end of its production run in North America in 1976, receiving only periodic facelifts. The restyled Dart featured a rear window with compound inverse curves. The Dart also featured curved side glass, which was a first for a Dodge or a Chrysler Corporation compact. In 1977, the sturdy, dependable Dart was replaced with the problem prone 1977 Dodge Aspen, which itself would be replaced by the Dodge Aries in 1981. Killing the Dart was something that Chrysler Corporation would later regret. See our post on the 1970-1976 Plymouth Duster for information on a Dart sister model of this era.
Fifth Generation 2013 Dodge Dart
The Dart reappeared as a modern compact based on a Fiat Platform for 2013. Although, fairly new at the time of this writing, the new Dart appears to set new standards in the compact class.
For more information about the specific generations of the Dodge Dart, see our post on the Third Generation Dart.
For other Dodge vehicles see our post on the 1968-1970 Dodge Charger.