Category Archives: Masarati

Centennial celebration for ‘The Dodge Boys’ and us!

The Dodge Rebellion shapes up

The Dodge Rebellion: 100 years and counting

One hundred years ago this month, Horace and John Dodge stopped making parts for Henry Ford as they had done earlier for Ransom E. Olds.  They started building entire cars bearing their name and continued to do so, quite successfully, until they both died in 1920.  Their widows sold the company to Wall Street’s Dillon, Read & Co. which, in turn, sold Dodge to Walter P. Chrysler in 1927.  Dodge has continued as a mainstay of Chrysler’s stable of brands even as Plymouth, DeSoto and Imperial have all come and gone.  Our celebration of Dodge’s centennial coincides with a FeralCars.com milestone.  This is our 100th post since we got up and running ten months ago which equates to 20 minutes in Dodge years.

Coronet doesn't blow

Coronet doesn’t blow

Dodge has been considered Chrysler’s performance division since the mid-1950s and this ’69 Coronet with cast aluminum racing wheels and hood pins underscores that muscle car image.

Colony collapse? What colony collapse?

Colony collapse? What colony collapse?

Dodge’s analog to Plymouth’s cartoon-inspired Road Runner was the Super Bee.  We admit that the tail band and feisty bumble bee graphic on this ’69 Super Bee are goofy but muscle car  aficionados take this kind of stuff very seriously, especially when the Bee is backed by the sting of a 426 cubic inch Hemi V8.

R Crumb, your car is ready!

R Crumb, your car is ready!

Dodge’s post war offerings, essentially carryovers from pre-Pearl Harbor days, were on the dowdy and bulbous side as evidenced by this ’48 sedan, still plying the streets of old Havana.

Dartscape

Dartscape

Dodge’s compact size Dart was introduced in 1963 as a step up from Plymouth’s Valiant, much as Mercury’s Comet was to Ford’s Falcon.  Dodge fielded Lancer, a re-badged Valiant in 1961 and 1962 which didn’t have much of an impact but the stylish-for-its-size Dart that followed was a huge hit.

Lancer on the loose

Lancer on the loose

Over its 14 year run, the Dart became synonymous with durability and reliability, thanks in large part to Chrysler’s unbreakable “Slant 6” motor.  Old Darts were symbolic of the anti-materialist “slacker” sensibility back in the pre-gentrification days that preceded today’s pretentious hipster movement. So resonant is the name that Fiat Chrysler recently revived it for Dodge’s contemporary compact which, truth be told, is based on an Alfa Romeo design.

Highway star

Highway star

We’re thinking that this very presentable 1970 Dart hardtop, photographed at speed on a busy freeway, may very well be piloted by its original owner, irony be damned. We offer a gallery of Darts, shot in the wild, as evidence of the car’s lasting presence. We’re especially taken with the tail-banded Swinger. Yes, that was an actual model designation for most Dart 2-door hardtops and, please, no key party jokes. Thanks to Feral Cars Field Scout “TV” Tom Vickers for the shot of the nice dusty ’63 convertible.

Dented Dart

Dented Dart

Red rocker

Red rocker

Humdinger Swinger

Humdinger Swinger

Drop top Dart

Drop top Dart

Dodge’s Aries was one of the famous Lee Iacocca- championed ‘K Cars,’ introduced in 1981.  With front wheel drive, seating for six and a thrifty 4 cylinder motor, these were a far cry from Dodge’s muscle car days but were extremely popular and profitable. They sold so well that Chrysler was able to pay back its government guaranteed loans in advance of the actual due date. Though on the drawing boards well prior to Iacocca’s tenure, Chairman Lee took much of the credit for their success, as one would expect.

OKcar

Just OK-car

Nice day for a white wagon

Nice day for a white wagon

Almost from the beginning, Dodge offered a line of trucks such as this ’67 step side finished in Creamsicle®-inspired vanilla and orange.  Since 2011, for some unfathomable reason, Chrysler-built trucks are branded RAM, rather than Dodge.  Horace and John would not be pleased.

Ram? Shram!

Ram? Schram!

Dodge was a huge player in the van movement (insert rockin’/knockin’ limerick here) of the ’60s and ’70s. This Family Wagon camper conversion by Travco from ’66 or ’67 features a non-OEM wooden bumper but is otherwise stock, observation deck-style roof and all.

Vantastic!

Vantastic!

Dodge supplanted the Dart with the Aspen (twin of Plymouth’s Volare) which was not a stellar effort.  A later iteration, yclept Diplomat, offered luxury pretentions, including a padded vinyl roof, fender-mounted turn signal indicators and a stand-up hood ornament.  Classy!  This ’78 Diplomat, so impressively preserved, is literally driven by a little old lady.  We’ve included a profile portrait of the Aspen on which it’s based.  Lipstick on a pig, anyone?

Très diplôme

Très diplôme

Aspen zone

Aspen zone

Lastly, we return to Dodge’s performance roots with a Challenger, dating from 1970.  It was Dodge’s (very) late entry into the “pony car” field that was pioneered by Mustang and, soon thereafter, Camaro.  We like everything about this un-restored example — the roof rack, the dent in the door and the dulled paint.  Truly, it’s a fitting final entry in this, Feral Cars’ centennial post.  Happy birthday to us and to Dodge.  As its Fiat overlords might say, cent‘anni!

Mid century muscle

MoPar muscle: never dull

Catch the Dodge Rebellion-themed commercials from ’67 with Dodge’s “it” girl Pamela Austin starring right here. 

While you’re at it, check out this ’67 Dart GT convertible that’s for sale in nearby Riverhead, NY.  It’s never too late to Join the Dodge Rebellion!

If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting please send it to us:   info (at) feralcars (dot)com.  Include your name, location of the car and some thoughts about the vehicle and we’ll look into getting it posted

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MoParmigiana: Chrysler’s “Italian job”

Rattle + Squeaks: musings, ramblings and rants from FeralCars founder Bob Merlis

You got a problem with this?

You got a problem with this?

Big news this week that there’s an agreement for FIAT to buy the remaining 41.5% of Chrysler from the UAW Trust for $4.35 billion.  When Daimler-Benz bought Chrysler (billed as a “merger of equals” but, in reality, a Stuttgart-led putsch that went bad) in 1998, the price was $37 billion. Cerebrus Capital took that smoldering wreck off Daimler’s hands for $7.4 billion in 2007 and left it for dead.  In 2009, the federal government interceded, as it had in 1979, this time putting FIAT into the picture.

Spicy meatball alert!

Spicy meatball alert!

We’ve heard all the Fix It Again Tony jokes for years but the fact is that FIAT’s infusion of technology and management expertise in the person of CEO Sergio Marchionne has made Chrysler profitable and competitive in recent years.

NASCAR will never be the same

NASCAR will never be the same

Chrysler, under Italian leadership, isn’t going away and that should be a source of comfort to MoPar loyalists and especially to thousands of its workers and dealers.  Let’s hope it’s also a good deal per i nostri fratelli Italiani.

Lee pimped Frank's Imp

Lee pimped Frank’s Imp

Which reminds us of Lee Iacocca’s quest for an Italian connection when he was Chrysler’s chairman. Lido’s parents had immigrated from San Marco dei Cavoti and he was so proud of his red, white and green roots that he  joined forces with Frank Sinatra to offer a special Imperial model with The (other) Chairman’s initials on it.  On his watch, Chrysler did a nutty co-venture with Alejandro de Tomaso  that resulted in the awkwardly worded “Chrysler’s TC by Maserati TC.” Yes, that’s an apostrophe.  He  got thisclose to selling Alfa Romeos through Chrysler dealers in a deal with — get this — FIAT in 1988 and, oh yeah, he bought Lamborghini!  Not a Lamborghini but the Lamborghini.  In 1987 Chrysler Corporation,  bought, outright,  Nuova Automobili F. Lamborghini, straight outta Sant’Agata Bolognese.

Could there a minivan in Maserati's future? A pick up?

Could there a minivan in Maserati’s future? A pick up?

Fiat's crown jewel?

Crown of Turin?

Sunday! MoPar/Fiat top fuel eliminator shuts down the competition

Sunday! MoPar/Fiat top fuel eliminator shuts down the competition

 

Next gen Sebring is looking great!

Next gen Sebring is looking great!

Iacocca’s predecessor? A finance guy name John Riccardo whose parents had immigrated from (see above).  The forthcoming FIAT+Chrysler unified entity may be be called Fiat S.p.A. but these two have been playing footsie with each other for eons.  Anybody remember the Chrysler, Desoto, Dodge and Plymouth Ghia-built (in Turin) dream cars of the early 1950s?

Solid deal

Solido!

And what about Italo-American Chrysler-powered Dual-Ghia? That same Sinatra guy had one as did Dean Martin and the other Rat Packers.  Check out Dino’s ‘bella maccina,’ here, co-starring in Billy Wilder’s “Kiss Me Stupid”

If the past is any indication, Fiat and Chrysler’s ever evolving relationship is going to be interesting so we’re keeping an open mind and roof about the matter.

Author with pets

Author with pets

Ciao!

Bob Merlis / feralcars.com

If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting consideration please send it to   info (at) feralcars (dot)com OR through our Facebook page.