Does a 1967 Dodge Dart GT convertible meet the criteria for “grand touring”, compact, even if it is a convertible? It’s like this:
Certainly “turbo” was the most overused automotive term of the 1980s, misapplied to everything from computers to washing machines. But at least when it came to automobiles, if it said “turbo” on the outside, there was most likely a turbocharger on the inside.
Unfortunately, there was no such restraint in the ‘60s. Everything was GT—if not, ahem, GTO—and automakers felt no compunction against putting the Grand Touring label on even their most humble offerings.
Consider the Dodge Dart.
Now there was nothing wrong with the Dart. It was at least as good as the Ford Falcon and the Chevrolet Corvair and/or Chevy II. The Dart was a solid piece of Transportation, adequately and appropriately styled for its era and capable of running for just about forever with its Slant Six motor.
Used as Dodge’s 1963 entry into the compact car wars (replacing the Lancer), the name had been used in 1962 on an intermediate with a wheelbase of 116 inches, and that down from an 118-inch wheelbase model in 1960 and 1961.
For the 1963 Dart (with a wheelbase of 111 inches), there were three trim levels, the 170, 270 and the Dart GT. Ordering a 270 meant your Dart got special upholstery and trim, and carpeting on the base 170 model had good ol’ rubber floormats over steel.
Springing the extra bucks for the Dart GT version gave your Dart bucket seats, wheel covers and a padded dash.
All Darts came with either a 170 cid or 225 cid Slant Six under the hood, the transmissions being a column-shift three-speed manual or push-button three-speed Torqueflite automatic. Suspension was double A-arms up front, and a live axle on leaf springs in the rear.
Such was Grand Touring in 1963.
In 1964, though, the new Mopar 273 cid V-8 could be installed across the Dodge Dart line, but surprisingly—despite a choice of 180-horse two barrel or 235-horse four-barrel versions—GT buyers opted for the six by a greater than three-to-one margin, and in 1965 by 22,700 to 18,000.
That year, by the way, saw the introduction of the optional hood stripe and four-on-the-floor transmission, available with a six or V-8, and the Dart with an automatic had a console-mounted shifter for the first time.
Face-lifted in 1966, the Dart GT saw the V-8 edge ahead of the six-cylinder for the first time—10,000 to 8,700—though sales were down for the GT as well as lesser Darts, and that meant it was time to…
A total restyle of the Dart came in 1967, thought the chassis stayed the same, and the buyers came back.
The Dodge Dart continued with the same trim option differences from the base model as in 1963, although eh 170 designation had been dropped in 1966 (the bottom model was simply the Dart) and a fancier two-spoke steering wheel with a full horn ring (wow!) was added at the Dart 270 trim level.
By this time, Dart GT buyers were solidly in the V-8 camp, 21,600 to 16,600.