The year 1966 was a great year for automotive sales in the U.S. Many car manufacturers were doing very well for the economy and in 1966 the average cost for a new Dodge vehicle sold for $ 2,280 and the price of gasoline for 32 cents a gallon.
The Chrysler Corporation was also doing very well within the automotive markets with its popular Dodge Dart models. The 1966 Dodge Dart models made their debut in Dodge dealerships on September 30, 1965.
The Dart was a traditional family car design that many Americans enjoyed and loved driving with its popular slant six engine. The Dart models including the convertible (see photos in story) offered bold new styling on the outside and new elegance on the inside.
The stylish new line for had received an updated look for 1966. The Dart models had much success since its introduction as a compact leader since 1963. The Dart models had a great reputation among car buyers as a fine value and dependable automobile that gave great service.
Engineering improvements in the automatic transmission provided smoother, quieter operations. Changes in the three-speed manual transmission allowed easier shifting. The new models provided a choice of 17 exterior colors and nine two-tone combinations for its customers. Styling features included a new grille and headlamp frames along with a new hood and new front fenders and tail lights.
The Dodge Dart convertible offered new moldings and ornamentation that many customers liked; they were available in a Dart GT and 270 series models. The Dart interior included a new instrument panel and cluster that was very exciting for many customers. Dodge offered the compact Dart in three series and with a choice of either a Slant Six or V-8 engine.
The Dodge Dart convertible came with a price tag of $2,828. Standard safety equipment in the Dart models included front and rear seat belts, padded instrument panel, windshield washer, multi-speed windshield wipers, back-up lights and left outside rear view mirror. Also the power steering had been improved at the time to give the driver greater assistance when parking.
In comparison, the 1966 Dart models had a strong resemblance to the previous model year of 1965, however Dodge models were still very popular among the driving public with Dodge ranking as the 7th bestselling vehicle in the United States.
In conjunction with the new models, the Dodge advertising team tried a different approach to market the Dart: “Join the Dodge Rebellion” was a very popular theme for its customers in 1966.
The Dodge Dart convertible advertising campaign for 1966 featured a young lady with a muzzle loading rifle and a Dodge Dart convertible automobile. The copy for the advertising stated “Careful, it's loaded. Check these Dart 66 options and accessories. Complete? You bet. The Dart theory: no reason you shouldn't enjoy all the comfort and conveniences you want in a car just because it sells at a compact price. Another statement from the advertising copy was, “Fire up that snarl under the hood.”
These kinds of automotive advertising themes would not possibly work in today's automotive marketing and society.
And for those of you who can remember the popular song by Nancy Sinatra in 1966, “These Boots are made for Walkin,’” this vintage Dodge advertising almost takes me back to that time period in our culture when Go-go boots became the fashion trend for most American women.
In conclusion, each automaker needed the best way to spread its message to the right crowd and for Dodge the theme was all about the “new leader of the Dodge Rebellion” and that will always be a part of our American culture and history.
A special thanks to Robert Tate, Automotive Historian and Researcher, for contributing this story to the MotorCities Story of the Week Program. (Bibliography: McPherson A. Thomas, “The Dodge Story” Crestline Publishing 1975; Frumkin MJ, “Classic Muscle Car Advertising The Art of selling horsepower,” 2002)
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