Get to know the story of Alexandre Badolato, a collector with so many Dodge vehicles in his garage that he created a museum to house them
June 18, 2019 - Alexandre Badolato's love story (a Brazilian) with Dodge started early, at a time when Chrysler was making its cars on Brazilian soil. "I got interested in cars in the 1970s", says the businessman, now 49 years old and some 160 Dodges. You read it right: Badolato has more than three Dodges for each year of his life, a proportion that continues to grow. Since 2010, he's had in the vicinity of the city of Campinas (São Paulo) the Dodge Museum, which he built with his wife, an engineer, to house the collection.
In the early 1970s Chrysler had a peak in its production in Brazil. But it stumbled into the oil crisis. "The factory closed and the big Dodge lost their value in such a way that many were abandoned or destroyed", says Badolato, who not only collects the cars but also their souls: the stories. "About 6% of the production was left", he estimates. Much of it has been salvaged and it's now part of the Badolato collection, which restores the huge cars to their the original majesty, including, of course, the characteristic and hypnotic roaring of the V8 engines, which he makes a point of keeping them running.
"Glo-glo-glo-glo-glo", Badolato is perfect with the onomatopoeic sound in his head. Although more frenetic, the sound resembles that of a good gulp, which, let's face it, fits perfectly with these handsome muscle cars, right? But they only drink gas, of course. If you still did not understand it, that's why few survived the oil crisis ... "They had become unfeasible for the normal user. People began swapping the cars for a radios or a refrigerator. They were abandoned and scrapped", says Alexandre.
The young car-lover fell head over heels when he first saw and drove his grandfather's Dodge, a 1979 Dart sedan. There was something in that structure, in that design, in that roaring engine that finally won the heart of Alexander. "I wanted so much to have a car like that. Will there be any left once I get my driver's license?" he asked himself, worried about the effects of the crisis. At that moment, he decided he would have a Dodge as soon as he would turn 18 and got his license. It took him another year, but at age 19 he got it: "On January 6, 1990 I bought my first Dodge. The idea was to preserve it. But two years later there was a model I liked even more, much rarer. I bought the second one and was reluctant to sell the first one, so I ended up buying one after the other. Then I became a collector", he says. The first was a 1981 Le Baron, bought with his father's help. "I really wanted a Charger R/T, but it was good that I bought the Le Baron first because it wasn´t in good shape, so it taught me a lot about mechanics", he teases.
The second was, of course, the 1979 Charger R/T, with alloy wheels. It took another seven years to purchase another Charger R/T, a 1972, which he finally restored in 2002. Promoting the rebirth of that icon awakened in Badolato the desire to continue the noble enterprise. "I really liked the national V8 Dodges, like the Dart and the Charger", he says. "The 1971 Dart and the 1971 Charger look totally different, when in the end, they are the same car", he says. "And they really were very different from what was done in the Brazilian auto industry. Unlike competitors, Chrysler brought to Brazil exactly the same product it sold in the United States, including the mechanics. In October of 1969, Chrysler launched here the same car that had been launched in the USA only a year before", he recalls. It was the Dodge Dart, with its monstrous 318-cubic-inch V8 engine (about 5.2 L) and 198 or 215 horsepower, depending on the configuration. In cylinder capacity, it was the largest automobile engine ever manufactured in Brazil, producing 41.5 kgfm of torque. "It's a lot even by today's standards. And well above the average performance of current cars", says Badolato.