By Patrick Rall
Since the day that the 2013 Dodge Dart was introduced at the
2012 Detroit Auto Show, some old school Mopar lovers have been grumbling that
this Dart was nothing like it used to be…and that Chrysler should have gone
with a vehicle more like the original Dart if they were going to use the
name. The crowd of naysayers is also complaining
that this Dart won’t become a collectable in the future. As the owner of a 1972 Dodge Demon 340 (which
is technically a Dart), I am here to say that I like the new compact sedan just
the way that it is and before hating on the new Dart – old school owners should
consider a few things.
First of all, the 2013 Dodge Dart is a front wheel drive,
4-door sedan with a range of compact and efficient 4 cylinder engines where the
vintage Dodge Dart was available as a 2-door or 4-door model with a spread of
slant 6 and V8 engines. While the old
Dart saw performance models like the unforgettable 1968 Hemi Super Stock Dart,
the Dart nameplate back in the 50s, 60s and 70s was a compact car. Back then, compact cars (like almost all
other cars on the road), were rear wheel drive and in many cases they were also
very similar in size to the higher end models like the Challenger or the
Charger. However, in the modern era of
the automobile the 2013 Dodge Dart fills the same class as the original Darts
but with the changes in the industry, today’s Dart is smaller and utilizes
front wheel drive with a small engine lineup than the “compact cars” of the 1960s.
The old school Darts were produced in high numbers with a
low purchase price and more often than not, those older models were purchased
for the low price and fuel economy numbers rather than to go fast or put away
for future value. When someone bought a
1967 Dodge Dart 4-door sedan with a slant 6, those folks surely didn’t expect
their new car to become a collectable but at any large Mopar event – you will
see a dressed up 1967 Dart 4-door – although in most cases the slant 6 will be
gone in place of something more reasonable like a 340. The 2013 Dodge Dart was not designed with
future collectability in mind much like the run of the mill 1967 Darts weren’t designed
with that in mind but in 40 years, there is a better chance than not that any
existing 2013 Darts will be as collectable then as 1967 Darts are today.
Finally, some are griping that the 2013 Dodge Dart should
have been rear wheel drive and either a coupe or sedan. Again, this isn’t the 1960s where a company
can have a lineup of rear wheel drive cars that are only slightly larger or
smaller than the next car in the lineup.
With the popular Dodge Charger and Dodge Challenger in the current
lineup, there is certainly no room for a vehicle as similar in size to either
of the modern muscle cars as the Dart was compared to the Charger and
Challenger in the good ol’ days.
Most importantly, the Chrysler Group needs a vehicle that
will compete in the incredibly quick growing compact sedan class. Not since the demise of the Dodge Neon has
Chrysler had a major player in the compact segment but with the introduction of
the 2013 Dart – the next big compact sedan could be here. As for collectability, there are rampant
rumors of a high performance SRT variant for the new Dart and if those rumors
are true – Mopar lovers will have a new performance model as well as a Dart
with future collectability.