For the Dodge brand, the Dart was a real success story. Launched in 1960, the brand’s most compact model remained one of the most successful compacts ever to appear on the American automobile market.
The compact (by American standards) Dodge Dart, based on the Chrysler A-body (platform-A), was produced from 1960 to 1976. With this model, the company first entered the fast-growing and promising compact car market and managed to sell 3,700,000 machines during the years of production. The model was valued for its reliability and endurance earning a reputation as an “indestructible” vehicle. It was popular with both racing enthusiasts (versions of the Sport and the powerful GTS) and respectable Americans. From 1960 to 1966, the car was even produced as a station wagon.
The 1960 model was the first “intermediate” Dodge model in the “Forward Look” style which was popular in those years. The brand’s post-war vehicles, like all Chrysler products, were distinguished by a solid but inexpressive design. The situation changed in the second half of the 1950s, when, under the guidance of designer Virgil Exner, the successful “Forward Look” style was developed. The brand’s lineup of those years consisted of the Coronet, Royal, and Custom Royal series. In 1960, in addition to the full-sized Polara and Matador models, more compact Dart models were produced, which immediately gained popularity.
Initially, this model was created for people who had high expectations, such as luxury, comfort, and performance but did not want to pay for more. The machine was supposed to be cheap when buying, and just as cheap during the exploitation. Oddly enough, the model met these requirements. It became a new line of economy vehicles, with a corresponding price in this segment, but the similarities with economy cars ended at the price. The model offered a low price without any compromise. It was designed and built to be an expensive vehicle available for less than $3,000. Everything looked like expensive models. The model had a solid appearance – an elegant and distinguished style that immediately set it apart from the segment of cheap vehicles. In the interior, the combination of fabrics of different colors was done with taste and elegance. And under all this beauty, a “steel fortress” was hiding. For more than half a century, vehicles were assembled by bolting the body to the frame, and many machines of that time were still built according to this principle. Dodge engineers decided to do otherwise, they developed a new one-piece body, which in every way surpasses the body-to-frame assembly method. Dart was looking rich and modern at the same time.
The first-generation model was produced from 1960 to 1961 in Canada. It was a full-size vehicle with a length of 5.3 meters, but at the same time, it was the most affordable machine in the brand’s lineup. The Dart had sedan (two or four-door), station wagon, and hardtop versions. Under the hood of the machine was an in-line “six” 3.7, as well as V8 engines with a volume of 5.2, 5.9, or 6.3 liters. Three-speed gearboxes – manual or automatic, with push-button control. Speaking about the popularity of this Dodge model, it should be said that in many respects it was achieved due to the variety of options offered to the buyer. The car was originally produced in 3 trim levels: base Seneca, medium Pioneer, and luxury Phoenix.
1960 Dodge Dart was a true movie star, featured in such movies and TV series as Gasu Ningen dai Ichigo, 1960, Elizabeth Taylor: Hollywood’s Child, 1975, That Thing You Do!, 1996, Supernatural, 2005-2020, The Flash, 2014-2022 and many more. The most remarkable appearances, however, were, in 1966 “Fireball 500” and in 1967 “Thunder Alley” movies, where cars pop up as part of NASCAR footage.
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