Dodge resurrects Dart name for Fiat-based compact
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DETROIT -- Dodge will resurrect the Dart name with its new compact, the first Chrysler Group product for North America to be built on a Fiat platform.
The 2013 Dart, which will be assembled in the first half of 2012 at Chrysler's Belvidere, Ill., plant, will have a variety of four-cylinder engine options, including a new, improved version of the 2.0-liter and 2.4-liter World Gas Engine known as Tigershark.
The Dart will debut with a Fiat-derived 6-speed dual-clutch front-wheel-drive transmission but will be available later with a new 9-speed transmission coming from ZF Group. The latter will be built in South Carolina.
Back to the '60s
The Dart debuted in 1960 as a smaller car for the brand, and sold more than 622,000 units in its first three years of production, according to the Chrysler-centric site Allpar.com. Available with a variety of engines, including Chrysler's popular "slant six," the car sold well throughout its 16-year run, and was one of Chrysler's first unibody vehicles.
Dodge last used the name in the 1976 model year in the United States, though sales of international versions of the Dart continued until 1981.
The historic Dart came in a wide variety of configurations, from an economy version to high-performance versions called "Swinger" and "Demon" in the early 1970s that featured a 340-cubic-inch V8.
The 2013 Dart is the first of at least eight upcoming Chrysler Group vehicles that will be built on Fiat's CUSW platform, including the replacement for the Jeep Liberty. The Dart will make its official debut at the 2012 Detroit auto show in January.
Photo credit: KGP PHOTOGRAPHY
The 2013 Dart will compete against such fuel-efficient vehicles as the Chevrolet Cruze and Ford Focus, and will ultimately come in an "eco" model that achieves at least 40 mpg. Once that version becomes available, Fiat will receive the final 5 percent of Chrysler Group stock under the agreement that allowed the company to emerge from bankruptcy in 2009.