Dodge Dart

​"It's not a car. It's like a person. Whoever owns one, has an extremely strong connection to it."

Admired more each day, the classic Dodge Dart celebrates 50 years of history in Brazil

November 26, 2019 - The success story of the Dodge Dart in Brazil is not only linked to the technological superiority of the model over its rivals of the time or because, 50 years ago, it became the national car with the largest cylinder power, a title that continues to this day. According to lovers of the classic, the "Dodjão" has become iconic for being a vehicle that has soul.

“It's not a car. It's like a person. Whoever owns one has an extremely strong connection to it”, says collector Lincoln Gomes, who, like the Dart, celebrated his 50th birthday in 2019. In the case of the automobile, the launch took place in October 1969, when the first units rolled out of the assembly line of the then Chrysler do Brasil S.A., in São Bernardo do Campo (SP).

Dodge Dart 1972 belonging to Lincoln Gomes’ fatherAt the age of two, Lincoln was already expressing his love for the Dart with a smile.

“Of my 50 years, no less than 48 are linked to the Dodge. My father bought a brand-new R/T Charger in 1972. I was two years old and since then I have been charmed by the vehicle. Proof of this is seen in a picture of me inside the car with a huge smile on my face. 'We grew up' together until I was ten, when my father unfortunately sold it”, recalls the sales manager.

Gomes's enormous affection for that white Charger R/T made him even more a fan of the model. “I remember going with my dad to the store to sell it, and at that time I told myself that when I grow up I would buy the same Dodge Dart. And that's exactly what I did in 1999. I found, shall I say, its twin brother with license plates that refer to Chrysler, the car version and the year of manufacture (CRT-1972)”, says the current president of the Chrysler Club of Brazil.

Fábio Pagotto with his Dodge Dart 1979Fábio Pagotto still has his first Dodge Dart he bought 33 years ago.

Another love for the Dart born during childhood is lived by Fábio Pagotto, who also grew up inside a Dodge. “I very fondly remember the 1975 Dart my father had, because I, then 11, would fall asleep in the car on our way home. It was an amazing vehicle, much stronger and much faster than the others we had in Brazil. On trips, the Dodge left the other cars behind. For a child, looking over his father's shoulder as the speedometer increased, it was very exciting. It made me fall in love with the car”, explains the engineer, who still preserves the blue 1979 Dart he bought in 1986.

“It brings me a lot of good memories, plus the pleasure of the V8 engine's peculiar sound and the great feeling I have behind the wheel. Driving the Dart is therapeutic, because it’s not just a car that takes you from point A to point B. The driver 'wears' the Dodjão, feeling the heart beating faster and ends up falling in love”, says the author of the book Dodge - Esportividade e Potência or Dodge - Sport and Power.

In its 12 years of being manufactured in Brazil, the Dodge Dart produced 93,008 units. Of these, no less than 106 are part of the extensive collection of businessman Alexandre Badolato, saying that he considers himself lucky to be born on the same “year / model” of the classic's creation. “I was born in 1970 and, like my friends Lincoln and Fabio, I live and breathe Dart forever. I believe it’s so beloved in the country because of the huge gap between the Dart and the cars that existed in Brazil at that time. It was absurdly different, much more powerful and technological. In addition, it was the first car in the Brazilian automobile industry to be modern and comparable to vehicles sold in more developed countries”, points out the collector and creator of the Dodge Museum, located in Campinas (SP).

Dodge Dart Le Baron 1981 from the Alexandre Badolato CollectionConsidered the most luxurious of the Darts, Le Baron 1981 was the first car in the Badolato collection.

In Badolato's collection, there are rarities like the last Dart made in Brazil and the 1979 model that belonged to his grandfather. “It was the Dart I spent my childhood in and my grandfather had purchased it brand-new. It had been sold, but fortunately I recovered it and now it’s stored in the museum. Which one is my favorite? The answer I always give is: "The next one I buy", he jokes.

And those who think that the cars in the collection don’t run are very wrong; they do, and a lot! “I go on long trips with my Dart because, besides the excitement I feel for all the good adventures the Dodge has given me in life, it's still a pretty comfortable model these days,” says Lincoln Gomes, currently the owner of 11 Dodjões. “The Dart has simple mechanics, it's spacious and it's nice to drive,” adds Badolato. “There is a lot of satisfaction in the contact I have with people on the streets. Everyone looks at the Dart and wants to chat. Several friendships arose because of the car”, says Pagotto.

As for the collectors, the love for the Dart will always be passed on to the next generations. “My daughter left maternity ward aboard a green 1972 Dodge Charger RT. At her 15th birthday party, she demanded to be taken with this same model”, reveals Gomes. “My eldest son loves the Dodjao. He grew up in one, just like me, and nowadays even he drives it. The love is contagious”, says Pagotto. May the next 50 years of many love stories for Dart come!

Words: Leandro Alvares

Pictures: Personal Collections

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