‘A counterpart to the Barracuda’ is Car And Driver’s assessment of the Dodge Dart. Not an outlandish conclusion, since both models shared plenty of components. However, in this case, Car And Driver’s components of interest were in the Barracuda’s Commando 273in. V-8 package. Thus equipped, in GT guise the Dart was transformed from a ‘boulevardier into a rugged middleweight.’
In general, the GT was a nice compromise ‘for the family man who wants a little extra excitement for his automotive dollar.’ Both the 235HP 273in. engine and ToqueFlite get credit for turning the Dart into an ‘interesting’ performer, and its ‘visually under-stated’ styling gets some praise.
The Pentastar’s late ’50s quality woes are addressed, and ‘in a complete departure from those grim days when all Chrysler cars seemed to be moulded… out of white metal, the Dart GT has a basic feeling of strength. The body panels fit properly and there were very few rattles… even though it had been trashed around for over a month.’ On this end, a bit of history is mentioned on Chrysler’s then-recent 50,000-mile warranty and its effect on recouping sales (It would not be the last time the company resorted to such a scheme to regain the public’s favor).
On the GT, the 235HP V-8 got its boost thanks to a hotter cam and a four-barrel carburetor. The engine was ‘robust and eager,’ and used the same exhaust found on the Formula S Barracuda, a favorite of the testers. There were further performance options, like a heavy-duty suspension package, without which the car had a ‘wobbly’ feel. Another area of critique was ‘of all the available power steering setups, Chrysler’s is the least appealing…’ being ‘so vague one wonders if the shaft has broken…’ Still, the Dart is summed up as a ‘bright, contemporary vehicle.’
Dodge was doing rather well in ’64, but the Dart GT was just a middle step in their ambitions. In ’66, their own sporty/personal car would be launched; the Charger.