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Chrysler to bring back the Dodge Dart -- Italian-style

December 6, 2011 |  8:16 am

Chrysler Group is reintroducing the Dodge Dart as a 2013 modelChrysler Group is reintroducing the Dodge Dart, a venerable name in the automaker's history that was phased out 35 years ago.

The new Dart is to be introduced as a 2013 model and pitched as a sporty compact sedan with Italian "DNA."

The new model will be the first Chrysler Group vehicle based on a Fiat architecture -- in this case, the Alfa Romeo Giulietta. Italian automaker Fiat holds a controlling interest in Chrysler, and the companies are starting to share auto development and design operations.

The Dart is Dodge's reentry into the compact sedan segment and will be an important vehicle for Chrysler as it works to improve the efficiency of its offerings to meet more stringent fuel-economy rules.

This latest version of the Dart is to offer buyers a choice of four engines, all four cylinders and ranging from 1.4 to 2.4 liters.

It's to be produced at Chrysler's Belvidere Assembly Plant in Belvidere, Ill. The company is pouring $600 million into the site to reconfigure the factory to produce a range of autos. Chrysler said it is building a 638,000-square-foot body shop at the factory and installing new machinery, tooling and material-handling equipment.

Chrysler introduced the Dart in 1960 as a small, low-price car, and it quickly became a top seller.  Interestingly, it had a touch of Italian heritage. Several years earlier, the automaker showed a concept car called the Dart, which featured styling by Ghia, the Italian auto-design house.

Although Chrysler ended U.S. sales of the Dart in 1976, it continued for some years in overseas markets before it was completely phased out.

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-- Jerry Hirsch
Twitter.com/LATimesJerry

Photo: 2013 Dodge Dart. Credit: Chrysler Group

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