Friday, May 31, 2013

Dodge Dart: What's in a Name?

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I like the Dodge Dart.  It is essentially a stretched version of the Giulietta and therefore the closest thing you can get to a new Alfa Romeo in the US.  The problem is its name. 

The dictionary defines dart as a small pointed missile that can be thrown or fired or as a verb meaning to move or run somewhere suddenly or rapidly.  I suppose a car that moves rapidly is good.  But the 5th grade boy in me knows that I can rhyme Dart with fart and shart.  Given the quality of Chrysler's small cars over the past decade, either rhyming word is appropriate. 

The problem is Chrysler doesn't have many historical names to draw on for small cars.  Valiant, Duster, and Volare were used for small Plymouths of the 1960s and 1970s.  Dodge had the Dart, Demon, and Aspen.  Incidentally the Demon was supposed to have been named the Beaver, which would have caused even more problems.  More recently Chrysler has used Omni, Aries, Reliant, Shadow, Sundance, and Neon for small cars.  Not much to work with there either. 

Chrysler bought AMC in the 1980's, which gave them the Eagle and Alliance.   Going to larger Dodge cars, there's the Monaco, Lancer, Coronet, Polara and Stratus.  On the Plymouth side there's the Belvedere, Satellite, and Fury to name a few.

My favorite Dodge name is the Intrepid, which was used on their large car made from 1992 to 2004.  Dodge must have decided to skip Intrepid and go with a classic name to invoke nostalgia.  Dart is better than naming a car the XR4Ti or some other seemingly random combination of letters and numbers.  But what does a Dodge Dart mean to people today?  How does the name rate against nameplates like Civic, Corolla, Focus, Cruze, and Elantra? 

Then again, those other nameplates don't do much for me either.  However, I've owned both a Civic and Corolla and think of them as loyal, dependable, small cars which could dart through traffic. 

Maybe Dart isn't so bad after all… just as long as they don't make a Swinger edition...

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