Dodge is betting big on the launch of its 2013 Dart. They’re calling it the most technologically advanced compact car in its class, and are playing benefit to the company’s ties to Italy’s Fiat (which owns Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep and Alfa Romeo among others).
“Alfa Romeo DNA with Dodge Passion and Design” so says the automaker’s website. In fact, the compact car rides on a modified Alfa Romeo Giulietta platform, but has an outer shell uniquely designed as a “Dart.”
2013 Dodge Dart
The “Dart” badge started life in 1957 as a car designed by Carrozzeria Ghia, perhaps the most famous Italian automobile design and coach building firms. You may know them for designing the Volkswagen Karmann Ghia and the Fiat 500 Jolly. Ford in Europe has used “Ghia” trim levels on a variety of cars—from the Ford Fiesta to the Capri
Dodge started using the “Dart” name in full-scale production in 1960. The car was introduced as a low-price, short wheelbase full-size in 1960 and 1961, becoming a mid-size car in 1962, and designed as a compact from 1963 to 1976.
Dart models over the years included a 2-door and 4-door sedan, station wagon, hardtop coupe and convertible.
My father bought a 1964 Dodge Dart station wagon straight off the showroom floor in October 1963. It served as our family transport vehicle until it was broadsided on Pacific Coast Highway in Newport Beach on the night of my sister’s High School prom in 1979. It was a workhorse for over 15 years.
1964 Dodge Dart Convertible
The brand has not been used by Dodge since 1976. Which raises the question as to why Dodge chose to resurct the name now. If the car is designed to be a progressive leap forward in design and technology, why use a name only Baby Boomers can remember? And, why pick a badge not known for its design or technological advancement? Did something get lost in translation between Italy and America?
Regardless, the new Dodge Dart looks great, and may bring a wonderful new chapter in Dodge history.