As the reborn 2013 Dodge Dart will soon hit the streets, it's impossible to forget where its namesake came from.
Now that Dodge has revived yet another name from their past, we thought it'd be cool to check out an early Dart just as the all-new 2013 model is making its official debut at this year's Detroit Auto Show. Launched back in 1960, the Dart was at first a value-oriented model meant to replace the Plymouth, which was being sold at Dodge dealers. It was an immediate success and people were actually opting for it instead of the larger Matador. By 1962, however, the Dart was downsized in order to compete better with the likes of the Ford Falcon.
In order for it to appeal to the widest buyer audience possible, the Dart was available as a sedan, wagon, coupe, and convertible. Engines ranged from a 3.7-liter I6 to a 6.8-liter V8. Throughout the 1960s, the Dart continued to evolve into a more performance-oriented model. In 1966, Dodge offered the Dart GT (also known as the D-Dart) and it was powered by a 4.5-liter V8 with 275hp. It also went on to compete in various SCCA (Sports Car Club of America) events such as the Trans-Am Series and Sedan Class racing series.
After a significant redesign in 1967, the Dart continued to be refreshed throughout the early '70s and was finally discontinued in '76. But in 1973, the Dart Sport was launched. Essentially a fastback version of the coupe, it was powered by a 5.6-liter 340 cu in V8. The owner of this '73 Dart Sport first bought the car when it was painted a dark blue, complete with some ugly seat covers. Those clearly had to go, but not until after a full restoration was done. When the car was completely stripped down, it was discovered that the floor boards were rusted out and that the transmission needed to be rebuilt.
They also put the body on the rotisserie so that every part could be properly inspected along the way and that nothing would be overlooked. After priming it a couple of times, the owner went with a bright red exterior paint, which we think is a nice improvement over the previous deep blue color. It was finished off with a black pin stripe and some beautiful chrome work. Various mods included a Mopar performance distributor cap, shaved heads, forged pistons, a bigger cam, Borla exhaust, a Mopar clutch fan, and an aluminum radiator.
With the Dodge Dart now being resurrected (and with Alfa Romeo underpinnings), we're anxious to see whether it will live up to its much loved ancestor. Judging by this restored 1973 Dart Sport, it'll have its work cut out for it. Photos courtesy of warren_454