In our fourth installment this week of May 2016’s Ride of the Month we feature the 1971 Dodge Dart presented by nominee Roger Brown. Here is some general information about the vehicle.
Note: This is not information about the actual vehicle nominated for May’s Ride of the Month, just general information on the vehicle itself. Please check the link at the bottom of today’s article to view all the actual vehicles nominated for this month’s Ride of the Month.
With an intriguing blend of economy, affordability and performance options, the Dodge Dart was one of the most intriguing cars to come out of the muscle car era. The Dart was so versatile, in fact, that its various iterations found use as both a high-efficiency taxi and a high-performance race car.
A Classic Compact
Unlike most car models during the 1960s and early 1970s, which tended to balloon in size as the years wore on, the Dodge Dart actually downsized from a nondescript full-size car into a svelte, distinctively styled compact. The 1971 model year saw only minor changes to the overall styling, the most prominent being redesigned quad tail lamps in lieu of the traditional dual-lamp design. The 1971 Dart also became one of the earliest production models to feature a cassette player instead of the then-common eight-track. More significant changes came in the form of a reshuffled lineup, with the popular Dart Swinger becoming the Swinger Special and the Custom two-door hardtop coupe taking its place.
The Dart Demon
The 1971 model year also saw another, far more noteworthy change in the form of the Dodge Dart Demon. Dodge’s answer to the success of the Plymouth Duster and its Valiant base, the Dart Demon was essentially a Duster with recessed tail lamps, a louvered grille and an assortment of available options. The Demon 340, powered by a 275-horsepower 340 V8 and sporting a heavy-duty Rallye suspension package, dual exhaust and optional hood scoops, replaced the former Dart Swinger 340 package.
Muscle on a Budget
The 1971 Dodge Dart may have been an economy car, but it earned its performance stripes as well. The most popular engine option was the venerable Slant Six, which featured legendary durability and a respectable 145 horsepower. A 318 CID V8 represented the next step up at 230 horsepower, while the beefy 340 V8 found in the Demon 340 offered serious power in a light, compact package. The Dart’s relatively lightweight and short wheelbase produced sharp and responsive handling, especially when paired with the Demon’s upgraded suspension. Though its economy-oriented trappings and compact form didn’t quite measure up to some of the era’s big-block beasts, the 1971 Dodge Dart more than earned its designation as a true muscle car.
The 1971 Dart typified the model’s diverse appeal, offering options for both budget-oriented family shoppers and gearheads with a taste for something a little more adventurous.
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