Future CC: 2013 Dodge Dart Limited: Reviving the Brougham?

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Remember the Dart? Sure, you do. Everyone remembers the A-body, Slant Six compact that soldiered on for years, providing reliable transportation to frugal buyers, librarians and accountants everywhere. What’s more, many a young man bought himself some mini muscle with a 340 Swinger or 1967-69 Dart GTS, so Dodge played with fire a bit by reviving the name for the new Neon subcompact–that is, of course, if the new car tanks. The jury’s still out on that point, but the last thing I’d have expected Dodge to offer is a revived 1975-76 Dart Special Edition!

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Yes, the Dart Special Edition (or SE, for you shorthand types) was the Broughamy version, sporting color-keyed wheel covers, velour upholstery, a stand-up hood ornament and extra fake wood inside. However, the SE package kind of strayed from the Dart’s core audience, which valued thrift and engineering over frills, and it (along with the Dart name) disappeared after 1976.

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The SE trim level was demoted into near oblivion over the next thirty-five years, right down to being the current Dart base model. As for the Dart name, it returned on the new small Dodge in 2013, thanks to parent Fiat. The Dart, while U.S.-built, is based on a modified Fiat compact platform with a longer wheelbase and slightly wider track.

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The Dart got off to a rocky start. After being hyped for months, the cars were nearly ready to go out when a problem was found causing dealership orders to be deferred. As a result, no Darts were seen for months–then, suddenly, it seemed like every dealer had 15 or 20. Today, the supply snafu seems to have been resolved, and now Darts are being seen on the roads with greater frequency.

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I knew the Limited model was available, as my brother and I saw it at the 2012 Chicago Auto Show. I thought it were pretty plush, with its chrome wheels and leather seats. The one at the show was gunmetal gray with a black interior–quite a common color scheme among 2013 cars, but still a bit bland.

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That said, you can imagine my double-take when I spotted this very bright Limited, at a tiny GM/Mopar dealership in Mt. Carroll, IL. Interesting!

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The color is Laguna Blue–and if that’s not unique enough for you, it also has the optional white leather seating. Yes, white. Yes, in 2013. Cool!

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And for those of you picturing Herb Tarlek stepping out of a Cordoba, this interior is not too white, and its black trim sets off the white seats and door inserts nicely.

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This color combination made me think of those Dart Special Editions and Valiant Broughams of yore.

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Why, if it had a white vinyl roof, it would look just like your Aunt Nancy’s ’75 Valiant! Unless, of course, Aunt Nancy had a ’70s brown car like the one above. Light blue is not my favorite color, but I think a Dart Limited, in bright red or black with that white leather inside, would look quite nice. Just hold the vinyl roof, please.

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