The Truth About Cars » Dart http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 04 Dec 2014 19:13:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Dart http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Junkyard Find: 1975 Dodge Dart Sedan http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/junkyard-find-1975-dodge-dart-sedan/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/junkyard-find-1975-dodge-dart-sedan/#comments Mon, 11 Aug 2014 13:00:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=887809 So many Chrysler A-bodies in junkyards these days, even though the last ones rolled off the assembly line in 1981 (in South America and Australia; the final Detroit-built A-body was a 1976 model). These cars were cheap and simple, and they’re still useful transportation in the 21st century, so many of them manage to stay […]

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07 - 1975 Dodge Dart- Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSo many Chrysler A-bodies in junkyards these days, even though the last ones rolled off the assembly line in 1981 (in South America and Australia; the final Detroit-built A-body was a 1976 model). These cars were cheap and simple, and they’re still useful transportation in the 21st century, so many of them manage to stay on the street well into their 30s and 40s. Sadly, even the most fanatical Dart/Valiant restorer has all the affordable two-doors and/or factory V8 cars he or she can handle, and so when a made-by-the-zillions Slant-6 Malaise Era sedan craps out, it’s going to The Crusher. So far in this series, we’ve seen this ’60 Valiant wagon, this ’61 Valiant, this ’63 Dart, this ’64 Valiant wagon, this ’67 Valiant, this ’66 Dart, this ’68 Valiant Signet, this ’73 Valiant, this ’75 Duster, and this ’75 Dart, and now we’re adding yet another ’75 to the list.
01 - 1975 Dodge Dart- Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis is a California car, so there’s absolutely zero rust and the upholstery is pretty well roasted by the sun.
06 - 1975 Dodge Dart- Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinDid it finally die?
05 - 1975 Dodge Dart- Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWhen I shot this car, it had only been on the yard for a few days. You can tell because the front brake parts, which are highly sought-after because they’ll bolt right on to B-body cars such as Chargers and Belvederes, were still there. By now, of course, the car has been shredded, dumped into a shipping container at the Port of Oakland, shipped to China, and melted down; I photographed it last October, in a yard that keeps inventory for a mere two months before scrapping it.
09 - 1975 Dodge Dart- Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAccording to my favorite junkyard-inventory site, there are two Darts, six Valiants, a Duster, and two Swingers in the inventory of the 90 yards Row52 tracks, which means there are many hundreds of fresh A-bodies in the junkyards they don’t cover. If you’ve ever wanted one, now is the time!

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Junkyard Find: 1963 Dodge Dart http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/junkyard-find-1963-dodge-dart/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/junkyard-find-1963-dodge-dart/#comments Mon, 14 Apr 2014 13:00:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=796762 For the entire time I’ve been on this planet, Chrysler A-bodies have been a constant presence in American wrecking yards, and they’re still quite easy to find today, 33 years after the last Valiant Charger rolled off the assembly line in Australia. I don’t photograph every Dart and Valiant that I see in junkyards, but […]

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04 - 1963 Dodge Dart Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinFor the entire time I’ve been on this planet, Chrysler A-bodies have been a constant presence in American wrecking yards, and they’re still quite easy to find today, 33 years after the last Valiant Charger rolled off the assembly line in Australia. I don’t photograph every Dart and Valiant that I see in junkyards, but this series has included this ’61 Valiant, this ’64 Valiant wagon, this ’67 Valiant, this ’66 Dart, this ’68 Valiant Signet, this ’73 Valiant, this ’75 Duster, and this ’75 Dart, and today we’ll admire a non-rusty California Dart two-door that I saw back in December.
07 - 1963 Dodge Dart Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe last official year of CONELRAD was 1963, and here we can see the official CONELRAD frequencies of 640 and 1240 kHz marked on this Dart’s fancy factory radio. How much was the optional AM radio in your new ’63 Dart? $169, which comes to $1,296 in inflation-adjusted dollars. Not only that, but you’d be hearing pretty much nothing but terrible hit singles and ugly news stories on that shockingly expensive staticblaster, back in ’63. Think about that the next time you’re enjoying your $300 Bluetooth-enabled aftermarket car stereo.
02 - 1963 Dodge Dart Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis car has the look of one that sat exposed to the elements for a decade or two. The biohazardous trunk contents include some icky-looking time-capsule stuff.
19 - 1963 Dodge Dart Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe car was running as recently as 1987, when a student commuted in it to the stoniest junior college in California.
14 - 1963 Dodge Dart Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIf the car had a hood (or at least an air cleaner) during its long-term abandonment, the engine innards might have stayed dry enough to remain unseized. Not that anyone is going to bother with rescuing a tired 170.
05 - 1963 Dodge Dart Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinBeing a two-door gave this car a slight chance of being saved by an auction buyer and restored, but the late-60s Darts tend to be more highly prized. Some of its parts should live on in other A-bodies, though.

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Junkyard Find: 1975 Dodge Dart http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/junkyard-find-1975-dodge-dart/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/junkyard-find-1975-dodge-dart/#comments Thu, 15 Aug 2013 13:00:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=499474 Will there ever be a time in which no Chrysler A-bodies show up in North America’s cheap self-serve wrecking yards? Sure, Darts and Valiants were as common 20 years ago as are dead Tauruses now, so the former torrent of old Chrysler compacts has become a trickle, but I still find at least a couple […]

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10 - 1975 Dodge Dart Sedan Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWill there ever be a time in which no Chrysler A-bodies show up in North America’s cheap self-serve wrecking yards? Sure, Darts and Valiants were as common 20 years ago as are dead Tauruses now, so the former torrent of old Chrysler compacts has become a trickle, but I still find at least a couple of them every time I visit The Crusher’s waiting room. In the last couple of years, this series has included this ’75 Duster, this ’64 Valiant wagon, this ’68 Valiant Signet, this ’66 Dart, this ’73 Valiant, and this ’61 Valiant, and today we’ll be admiring the car that was to 1983 what the ’94 Corolla is to 2013: a cheap, dependable sedan that nobody noticed.
07 - 1975 Dodge Dart Sedan Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis one does have an unusual option that you almost never see on Slant Six Chrysler A-bodies: air conditioning!
13 - 1975 Dodge Dart Sedan Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinMost Dodge shoppers who could afford air conditioning in 1975 went ahead and got a Coronet, or at least sprang for the 318 V8 in a Dart. Perhaps this was an ex-rental car, or a New Mexico purchase.
11 - 1975 Dodge Dart Sedan Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinEven in the dry Southwest, however, Detroit cars of this era managed to rust around the rear window and beneath the vinyl top.
02 - 1975 Dodge Dart Sedan Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThese were just good simple cars, full of corner-cutting build-quality glitches and crappy components but easy to keep running. If I found myself transported back to 1975 and I needed to buy a cheap new car for daily-driving use, I’d probably get a Dart (though mine would be a coupe, and it would have a V8, manual transmission, and no fancy vinyl-top option). A close second choice would be the Civic.
05 - 1975 Dodge Dart Sedan Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinEven with a missing hood and headlight, plus 5 MPH crash bumpers, this car has a good face.

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Junkyard Find: 1961 Plymouth Valiant http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/junkyard-find-1961-plymouth-valiant/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/junkyard-find-1961-plymouth-valiant/#comments Fri, 19 Apr 2013 13:00:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=485296 A few months ago, we saw this Lebowski-grade ’75 Gran Torino in a Denver wrecking yard, and an early Chrysler A body could be seen in the background. Here’s that car! This car is a bit rusty and it’s a not-so-desirable four-door, so it’s a good thing that some Valiant (or Dart) owner has rescued […]

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A few months ago, we saw this Lebowski-grade ’75 Gran Torino in a Denver wrecking yard, and an early Chrysler A body could be seen in the background. Here’s that car!
This car is a bit rusty and it’s a not-so-desirable four-door, so it’s a good thing that some Valiant (or Dart) owner has rescued most of the interior. It would be a shame to have useful 52-year-old parts go to The Crusher.
It’s possible that this is a ’60, but (as far as I know) the differences between the ’60 and the ’61 are mostly in the grille, which is missing. The junkyard thinks this is a ’62.
Still enough Slant Sixes left in the world that you see them frequently in junkyards.
Chrysler needs to bring back the “toilet seat” trunklid!

01 - 1961 Plymouth Valiant Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1961 Plymouth Valiant Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1961 Plymouth Valiant Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1961 Plymouth Valiant Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1961 Plymouth Valiant Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1961 Plymouth Valiant Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1961 Plymouth Valiant Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1961 Plymouth Valiant Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1961 Plymouth Valiant Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1961 Plymouth Valiant Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1961 Plymouth Valiant Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1961 Plymouth Valiant Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1961 Plymouth Valiant Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Junkyard Find: 1966 Dodge Dart http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/junkyard-find-1966-dodge-dart/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/junkyard-find-1966-dodge-dart/#comments Tue, 03 Jul 2012 13:00:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=451072 After seeing this 1968 Plymouth Valiant a couple of months back, I kept my eyes open for an example of the Valiant’s Dodge sibling languishing in one of Denver’s self-serve wrecking yards. Last week: pay dirt! I think the Dart became a better-looking car for the 1967 model year, shedding most of the late-50s/early-60s styling […]

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After seeing this 1968 Plymouth Valiant a couple of months back, I kept my eyes open for an example of the Valiant’s Dodge sibling languishing in one of Denver’s self-serve wrecking yards. Last week: pay dirt!
I think the Dart became a better-looking car for the 1967 model year, shedding most of the late-50s/early-60s styling influence still visible in the ’66, but the basic formula was the same: an affordable compact car that was more reliable than just about all of its competition.
Here’s the main reason that Darts and Valiants lasted so long. Even buyers that opted for the more powerful 273-cubic-inch V8 got an engine that was impressively hard to kill (I’m 99% certain that the great big “Poly 318″ engine wasn’t an option in the cramped engine compartments of ’66 A-Body Chryslers, but you Mopar zealots out there are encouraged to fill in the obsessive details of that story).
So, another old Dart gets used up and crushed. Plenty of them are still around, but most are two-doors with V8s these days.

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How Hemi Magic Made It To The iPhone (And Its Competitors) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/how-hemi-magic-made-it-to-the-iphone-and-its-competitors/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/how-hemi-magic-made-it-to-the-iphone-and-its-competitors/#comments Wed, 18 Apr 2012 15:06:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=440457 The chances are good that, as a TTAC reader, you use a smartphone. Among the literate, educated people who make up our reader base, ownership of a touch-screen phone with more computing power than a stack of DEC PDP-11s is the rule, not the exception. Google claims that over 250 million devices are running Android. […]

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The chances are good that, as a TTAC reader, you use a smartphone. Among the literate, educated people who make up our reader base, ownership of a touch-screen phone with more computing power than a stack of DEC PDP-11s is the rule, not the exception. Google claims that over 250 million devices are running Android. Apple sold as many as 44 million iPhones in the past quarter. To some degree, the entire globe runs on these devices. Most of us couldn’t do our jobs or manage our lives without them.

The chances are not good that, as a TTAC reader, you own one of the two hundred and two 426 Hemi Super Stock “A990″ Dodge Corornets and Plymouth Belvederes built. 93 TorqueFlite Dodges, 8 four-speed stick Dodges, 85 TorqueFlite Belvederes, 16 four-speeds. They were up to five hundred pounds lighter than their non-A990 brethren and were known to turn quarter-mile times in the high ten-second range with trap speeds between one-twenty-five and one-thirty. Modern supercars like the GT-R and Ferrari 458 can’t hang with a 1965 Plymouth Belvedere. Think about that.

Now think about the fact that, without those ’65 Mopars, your smartphone wouldn’t work quite the same way it does today.

As produced, the so-called “A990″ Coronets and Belvederes were actually too light for the NHRA; they had to have a hundred-pound “off-road skidplate” added back to them in order to compete. Chrysler pulled out all the stops for their 1965 factory drag racer. They also pulled out everything from the rear seats (of course) to the passenger windshield wiper. That’s wasn’t enough. The NHRA wouldn’t permit the widespread use of aluminum body parts in a “stock” car, so Chrysler tried another tack at saving panel weight. A special run of body parts was stamped, using lightweight steel. As everybody who has ever tried to race a showroom-stock car around a road course or down the strip knows, however, the glass in a factory vehicle is murderously heavy.

Enter “Chemcor”, a special project from the Corning Glass company. According to Wikipedia, Chemcor is made as follows:

The glass is toughened by ion exchange. It is placed in a hot bath of molten potassium salt at a temperature of approximately 400 °C (~750 °F). Smaller sodium ions leave the glass, and larger potassium ions from the salt bath replace them. These larger ions take up more room and are pressed together when the glass cools, producing a layer of compressive stress on the surface of the glass… creating high compressive stress deep into the glass. This layer of compression creates a surface that is more resistant to damage from everyday use.

The A990 cars received Chemcor glass panes all the way ’round. The additional surface toughness allowed it to be much thinner while meeting the same impact requirements, although were Chrysler to pull the same trick in a Dart R/T today the NHTSA might have something to say about it. Come to think of it, the NHTSA might have had something to say about it back then, perhaps at lunch in the London Chop House or wherever such things were privately done, and as a result no Mopar, and no car, ever used Chemcor again. Corning put the process, and the results, away in its vault, and did not develop or sell any more products with Chemcor glass…

…until the day Steve Jobs came to visit. I will let Walter Issacson, Jobs’ biographer, take it from here, quoting a speech he gave after Jobs’ death:

Steve Jobs when he does the iPhone decides he doesn’t want plastic, he wants really tough glass on it, and they don’t make a glass that can be tough like they want. And finally somebody says to him, because they were making all of the glass in China for the fronts of the stores, says, “You ought to check with the people at Corning. They’re kind of smart there.” So, he flies to Corning, New York, sits there in front of the CEO, Wendell Weeks, and says, “This is what I want, a glass that can do this.” So, Wendell Weeks says, “We once created a type of process that created something called Gorilla Glass.” And Steve said, “No, no, no. Here’s how you make really strong glass.” And Wendell says, “Wait a minute, I know how to make glass. Shut up and listen to me.” And Steve, to his credit, shuts up and listens, and Wendell Weeks describes a process that makes Gorilla Glass. And Steve then says, “Fine. In six months I want enough of it to make–whatever it is–a million iPhones.” And Wendell says, “I’m sorry, we’ve actually never made it. We don’t have a factory to make it. This was a process we developed, but we never had a manufacturing plant to do it.” And Steve looks at him and says what he said to Woz, 20, 30 years earlier: “Don’t be afraid, you can do it.” … Wendell Weeks said he called his plant in Kentucky that was making glass for LCD screens, and said, “Start the process now, and make Gorilla Glass.” That’s why every iPhone in your pocket and iPad has Gorilla Glass made by Corning.

“Gorilla Glass” was a marketing gloss on “Chemcor”. In a way, the two names perfectly symbolize what’s changed in America since 1965. “Chemcor” just sounds all space-agey and forward-thinking, the sort of optimism that Donald Fagen sprinkles all the way through his “The Nightfly” solo record. “Gorilla Glass”, by contrast, has the sheen of explain-it-to-the-dumb-proles to it, a ridiculous exaggeration based on the idea that, while people might be frightened by chemicals, they have no problem feeling good about gorillas.

“Gorilla Glass” it is, and its use has expanded to dozens of other smartphones and small devices. I’ve personally spiderwebbed two Gorilla Glass phones, but check this: when I went to Palm Beach late last year, I accidentally (meaning drunkenly) walked into the ocean with a spiderwebbed Droid3 in my pocket, and the display didn’t short out. Good stuff, even if it can’t quite stand up to gorillas in smartphone-friendly thicknesses.

Best of all, although future Gorilla Glass production is likely to come from China, for the time being a lot of is it made right where it was invented: in the United States. American ingenuity, American production. Makes you feel good. Here’s another American idea: let’s go ahead and try it again, in a 350-horsepower, maxed-out, 2.4-turbo Dart. Call it the Super Stock. Light Chemcor glass, Quaife diff, no-fluff, quarter-mile-oriented. After all, there are still some of us who rank a kick-ass Mopar way above a not-so-simple smartphone.

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Blind Spot: Catching Up With Chrysler http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/blind-spot-catching-up-with-chrysler/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/blind-spot-catching-up-with-chrysler/#comments Tue, 27 Mar 2012 22:26:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=436754 With the government still waiting to see how much it will get out of its equity in General Motors, The General seems to be attracting more of the media commentary than Chrysler these days. And not without good reason: GM saw the greatest drop in market share last month of any Detroit automaker, its government-hyped […]

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With the government still waiting to see how much it will get out of its equity in General Motors, The General seems to be attracting more of the media commentary than Chrysler these days. And not without good reason: GM saw the greatest drop in market share last month of any Detroit automaker, its government-hyped Volt is flopping, Opel continues to be an open sore and it can’t help but flaunt its cluelessness about youth marketing. But interest in GM’s shortcomings seems to be driven by little more than election-year political implications, which Chrysler was able to avoid by borrowing cash and misleadingly claiming to have squared up with the American taxpayer. After all, Chrysler is facing just as many challenges as GM, if not more. And despite having formally closed the bailout chapter of its history, Chrysler’s performance still bears on the decision to rescue America’s weakest major automaker.

Evidence that Chrysler is receiving something of a free pass from the media is not difficult to find, with Sunday’s CBS interview with CEO Sergio Marchionne serving as Exhibit A. A fluffy profile of the Fiat/Chrysler boss, the CBS piece is so lacking in journalistic rigor that ends up providing more misinformation than verifiable facts. The “paid back the loans with interest” line makes an appearance, without any qualifications that might have explained the full truth of Chrysler’s “payback.” Another straight-up whopper: Sergio’s assessment that Chrysler can “afford” to screw up on a single car. Chrysler only has one new post-Fiat car on the immediate horizon, the 2013 Dodge Dart… if Chrysler has “screwed up” that car, it will be a PR disaster that the company might not survive. Besides, with Fiat 500s piling up on dealer lots (82 days supply as of 3/1, down from 132 days supply on 2/1) despite $500 rebates or 0% financing, it seems that Fiat/Chrysler has already used up the one “screw up” that Marchionne says it can afford.

Speaking of the Dart, Marchionne claims that the crucial compact is “mechanically outstanding” and has “nothing to apologize for”… and yet, it appears that it’s already facing some challenges. Earlier this month, Marchionne said he was bumping the Dart’s rollout from April 1 to “avoid being jinxed” by April Fool’s day (Allpar notes that the April 1 launch was a “delay” from the planned January launch). That excuse is flimsy on face value, but the fact that Mopar will only build 2,000 Darts in May and that full dealer availability won’t finalize until June shows that there are probably bigger problems under the surface than mere superstition. And Dodge boss Reid Bigland seems to already be turning down the wick on expectations, saying the delay is

“not a concern. Given the size of the segment throughout North America and the enthusiasm for the Dart, we think it’s going to go OK.”

What Bigland leaves out is that, although the segment is large, the competition among compact sedans is fierce. And the Dart is likely not as well-positioned as CBS implies when it claims its “base price just under $16,000 with 40 miles to the gallon.” The EPA doesn’t have fuel economy numbers for the Dart, but with an efficient 1.4 Turbo engine listed as an option, it seems highly unlikely that a 40 MPG highway version of the Dart will be available at the base price (at least until a 9-speed transmission becomes available next year). Oh, and the government’s condition that Fiat build a 40 MPG Chrysler only requires 40 MPG combined unadjusted, a benchmark that is far less than 40 MPG EPA, and barely competitive with compact sedans already on the market. And with only 120,000 or so units of production planned at Belvidere, and exports planned from there to 40 different markets, it seems that Chrysler isn’t banking on competitive sales figures (Focus and Cruze have been selling over 20k units per month).

But if you dig deeper, you find that the mainstream media’s breathless boosterism is sharply contradicted in the online press, where rumors of trouble in Auburn Hills are starting to pile up. Over at Autoextremist, the auto industry insider’s outsider is posting emails from sources like “Anonymous in Auburn Hills,” which indicate that there are either a few truly bad apples at Chrysler or (as the Autoextremist himself concludes) the Fiat-Chrysler marriage is facing serious issues. “Anonymous” writes

All you need to do is work at CTC [Chrysler Technical Center] and you will see just how correct AE [Autoextremist] is on this Fiat issue.

In that building resides a morass of poor decisions, poor planning, poor time management, and ass backwards 80’s era engineering think…

…They want to build good cars but can’t make a decision to save their live.

My God, they can’t even get their CAD system figured out! I mean who is stupid enough to introduce a new CAD system on a whim?? did they not think you need time to integrate all of the other computer related systems?

It is a joke of epic proportions.

Another AE reader adds:

Arrogant. Irrational. Belligerent. Such a perfect description of Fiat management, [Autoextremist] must be moonlighting within the walls of CTC somewhere…

…Fiat practices finger-snap management as its true core philosophy. Cut product development time in half! How? Just cut it in half, easy! What testing should be eliminated? What efficiencies should/will allow this? No answer. Build a new production line but with half the capital funding! How? Easy, just spend half as much! You get the picture.

In an industry that so closely controls its PR, this burst of leaks is evidence enough that some serious dissatisfaction is brewing at Fiat/Chrysler. Add the Dart’s delay to this, and the emerging picture at Chrysler is not of a company bound for great things. More troubling still is the counterpoint between these worrying signs and the dizzying ambition of Fiat/Chrysler’s new product development plans. The Dart is built on a widened version of Fiat’s C-EVO platform, but according to Allpar, that platform will be stretched further and converted to rear-drive to accommodate the forthcoming midsized Alfa Giulia and Dodge Avenger replacement. Oh, and the LX platform also has a front/rear-drive replacement under development as well, the E-EVO, which will underpin everything from minivans to an Alfa sports sedan. According to an Allpar source,

This new D architecture is a joint project, but it’s being developed in Detroit with Fiat engineers who have been flown over to be embedded permanently in the project. … This decision (having a RWD D-segment architecture) was a costly proposition, and they took a good two years of tinkering between finance and marketing before they finally reached the decision to go ahead with this. … E-Evo was discarded [for this purpose] last year, when it became obvious that if you shorten it too much you can’t produce an aerodynamic, sexy looking D-segment car, on that huge beast.

So, an apparently-dysfunctional, trans-Atlantic team is developing expensive, complex D- and an E-segment platforms that are convertible between front-drive, rear-drive and all-wheel-drive, and will underpin mass-market offerings as well as premium cars. If this sounds oddly familiar, it should: it’s like a worst-of mashup of the cross-cultural issues of the DCX days and the engineering overreach of the early LH platform development (which Bob Lutz describes as having been “trapped in the classical ‘more is more’ planning maze”). And at the root of this mind-boggling complexity is yet another unsolved issue: Fiat/Chrysler’s bloated brand portfolio, which demands this ultimate (and expensive) platform flexibility.

Meanwhile, the context for all this is even worse, as Fiat faces a crushing downturn in the European market, made worse by the fact that Fiat is dependent on the Mediterranean markets that are being hit the hardest. Fiat lost half a billion dollars last year, its stock is on a 12-month downward spiral, it has frozen European investments, and it is grappling with numerous union issues (including a hauler strike that could cost it 10% market share in Italy). And with essentially no presence in China to offset European contraction, Marchionne’s solution is another alliance with yet another struggling automaker, like Mazda or Suzuki. But the “tying two rocks together to see if they float” plan clearly isn’t a path forward, and more merging will only wreak further havoc on Fiat/Chrysler’s troubled culture. Meanwhile, Fiat is only just starting [sub] its third attempt at a Chinese production JV (building Fiat-branded Darts), and it’s moving into Russia just as that market’s growth slows.

With huge losses likely to come out of Europe, and giant outlays likely on both Chinese and Russian expansion as well as investments in complex, multi-purpose platforms, Fiat-Chrysler has a seriously tough row to hoe over the next year or so. Successes will have to come from its stronghold in Brazil, which is seeing disappointing sales numbers so far this year, or from the US. With only the Dart coming down the pike, one hopes that its delays yielded serious results and that it makes an unequivocal case for Chrysler’s Fiat-led future. Otherwise, we could easily find ourselves here a year from now, wondering once again if Fiat/Chrysler is going to make it through another 12 months.

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Molto Grazie!Treasury Hands Fiat Another 5 Percent Of Chrysler http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/01/molto-grazietreasury-hands-fiat-another-5-percent-of-chrysler/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/01/molto-grazietreasury-hands-fiat-another-5-percent-of-chrysler/#comments Thu, 05 Jan 2012 11:11:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=424455 Usually, when you bring a car from Europe to be made in the U.S., you need to bring something else: Money. You know, for buying real estate for a plant, machinery, that kind of thing. Except when you are Fiat. In that case, a thankful U.S. government hands you yet another 5 percent of Chrysler, […]

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Usually, when you bring a car from Europe to be made in the U.S., you need to bring something else: Money. You know, for buying real estate for a plant, machinery, that kind of thing. Except when you are Fiat. In that case, a thankful U.S. government hands you yet another 5 percent of Chrysler, as a token of its appreciation, for what amounts to be a token act.

As announced last December, Fiat made good on its promise to build its Alfa-based Dodge Dart in the U.S. According to Reuters,

“Chrysler and Fiat formally committed on Wednesday to the U.S. Treasury Department to produce the 2013 Dodge Dart sedan at a U.S. Chrysler plant.”

With that simple commitment, Fiat has increased its stake in Chrysler to 58.5 percent. By announcing its intentions to build “a highly fuel-efficient car” at a U.S. plant, Fiat reached the final milestone with the Treasury. The government is out of the automaking business, at least as far as Chrysler is concerned. Fiat shares ownership of Chrysler with the UAW. The UAW’s retiree health care trust holds the 41.5 percent. left over after Fiat’s 58.5 percent.

Actually, it is not the new Dodge Dart that got Fiat the last chunk of Chrysler, it is a special anemic edition of said Dart. Equipped with a 1.4-liter turbocharged FIRE engine that also powers versions of the subcompact Fiat 500, THAT Dart is expected to get the required unadjusted combined fuel economy rating of at least 40 mpg. Never mind that the EPA-issued windows sticker probably will say something like 30 mpg. Who are you going to sue, the government?

The 2013 Dart will be built at Chrysler’s plant in Belvidere, Ill.

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What’s A Dodge Dart Worth? 5 Percent Of Chrysler http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/12/what%e2%80%99s-a-dodge-dart-worth-5-percent-of-chrysler/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/12/what%e2%80%99s-a-dodge-dart-worth-5-percent-of-chrysler/#comments Wed, 07 Dec 2011 20:34:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=421753 Jack Baruth showed you the Alfa-based new Dodge Dart – but what does it mean? For Sergio Marchionne, the little car means a lot. It means the final five percent of Chrysler, to be exact. Marchionne told Reuters [via Automotive News [sub]] that Fiat could soon receive its final 5 percent of the Chrysler stock, […]

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Jack Baruth showed you the Alfa-based new Dodge Dart – but what does it mean? For Sergio Marchionne, the little car means a lot. It means the final five percent of Chrysler, to be exact.

Marchionne told Reuters [via Automotive News [sub]] that Fiat could soon receive its final 5 percent of the Chrysler stock, which would give Fiat 58.5 percent. The rest would be held by the UAW’s retiree health care trust.

A vehicle that is built in the United States and that has achieved an unadjusted combined fuel economy rating of at least 40 mpg (closer to 30 MPG combined on the window sticker) is the final milestone worth those 5 percent. Even if the vehicle making that number is a special edition (think Cruze Eco).

As Jack’s piece mentioned, the Dart will come with a number of engine options. One of these is the 1.4-liter turbocharged FIRE engine that also powers versions of the subcompact Fiat 500. A new 9-speed transmission coming from ZF Group could increase the Dart’s fuel efficiency by an additional 10 percent to 16 percent over a similar 6-speed dual clutch transmission.

 

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