Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Car Of The Day: February 2011

Today's car of the day is Automodelli's 1976 Dodge Charger.

In 1969, the 1966 Dodge Dart (long-wheelbase Valiant) four-door sedan was introduced as a new car. It had V8 power and a standard three-speed transmission, and was named car of the year by Auto Esporte in 1970. A two door coupe came out the next year.

The Dart competed with the Ford Galaxy for the high end of car buyers, with many becoming chaffeur driven, while the coupe appealed to younger buyers. There were Charger and Charger R/T versions, mainly Dart hardtops with the roofline extended to the trunk and speed-related items such as dual exhausts, four-on-the-floor shifter, mag wheels, and bucket seats. It was at the high end of Brazilian production performance, consistent with the Dart's relatively high price overall.

In 1972, more luxurious cars were featured at the auto show, and Dart styling moved away from its American counterparts, though the basic engineering remained the same. Production continued with few changes until the 1979 lineup, when the Dart name gave way to LeBaron for luxury and Magnum for sport (replacing Charger). Magnum was a status car according to Status magazine, partly because of covers attached to the rear side windows that hid the rear seat from view. Few Magnums were made and today they are rare.

The Dart peaked in 1972 and 1973, before the oil crisis, which changed tastes to more economical vehicles. In 1980, only 403 Darts were made, and they were halted the next year. It had been popular with a spacious interior without excessive width (the Galaxy's problem), and maintenance and durability helped. The lack of a six cylinder no doubt hurt its survival after the fuel crisis.

For more information and pictures of the real car please visit: Dodge Charger

This is definitely the first Automodelli featured for Car Of The Day to date, and I think it may also be the first resin model as well.

The Dodge Dart of Brazil came in several models. Produced from May 1969 to 1982, the early Darts were a copy of our US Dart and looked like a 1969 car. The Dart-based Charger R/T had swept back B pillars like the US 1968 Charger. In 1975, they were available with a 2-barrel 318 providing 198 hp (except Charger R/T, which had 215 hp from the same engine, and a four speed manual transmission rather than the three speed trans on the others). Features included power brakes and, on the two-door cars, reclining bucket seats and consoles. Options included TorqueFlite automatic (floor or column shift), front sway bar, dual exhaust, air conditioning, and power steering.

Chrysler sold its interest to Volkswagen, which produced the Dart until 1982. The name was changed to LeBaron (four-door) and Magnum (two-door).

This casting was created using the Johnny Lightning '69 Dodge Dart as a starting point.  From there the car was modified from Dart to Charger with the addition of the flying buttress roofline and correct front fascia.  A nice model, but the downsides are the price and the fact that the wheels do not roll.  Both of the Automodellis in my collection are sadly stationary.

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