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Classic Cars Image Gallery

The sporty GTS that debuted in 1968 came with a 275-bhp 340, and could be ordered with a 300-bhp 383. See more classic car pictures.

©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

The 1967-1969 Dodge Dart GT GTS series steadily progressed from safe, family-oriented cars to all-out speedsters. Ever since 1965, Dodge had been issuing a GT edition of its compact Dart.

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Name aside, these upgraded hardtop coupes and convertibles didn't quite qualify as full-fledged Grand Touring or performance machines -- not with a 273-cid V-8 as top engine, and a hard-to-combat image as low-budget, uninspired family movers.

When Darts enjoyed a major restyle for 1967, the GT came along for another trial run, winding up the year with a modest but welcome sales gain. Bigger inside and out, more rounded along the bodysides, the reworked Darts kept the same 111-inch wheelbase as the originals, but delivered, in the words of the sales brochure, "... more room. New pow. More posh."

Well, that was the claim. In reality, not much had changed apart from a cleaner fastback-styled silhouette and full-width grille, and a fresh selection of vinyl and cloth/vinyl interiors. Some of that size increase was illusory, in fact, since overall length actually shrank by a fraction of an inch.

Clearly, more than bucket seats and an identifying plaque were needed to turn a plain-Jane Dart into an honest GT. Ordering the optional Rallye suspension package helped, especially when combined with front-disc brakes and D70 × 14 Red Streak tires.

So did the more potent four-barrel variant of the 273-cid V-8, available with either TorqueFlite or a four-speed, and an optional tachometer. Nevertheless, these useful doodads were attached to an otherwise no-frills American compact that had a difficult time eliciting excitement.

Something was missing. A wider front end had given the 1967 Darts a broader stance and additional engine room -- but nothing new to fill that extra space. That shortcoming was corrected for 1968 with the arrival of the GTSport (GTS, for short) as a member in good standing of the new Dodge "Scat Pack," which also included the Charger and Coronet R/T editions.

Beneath the hood of the freshened Dart sat a zesty new 340-cid V-8 with four-barrel carb and high-lift camshaft, eager to send its 275 horsepower to the ground via a Rallye suspension and E70 × 14 wide-tread tires.

Scoop-style hood louvers, square-tipped dual exhaust pipes, and "bumblebee" stripes out back told the world that this was a new breed of Dart, ready to take on some (if not all) comers. Anyone who didn't care for those flashy rear stripes could nix them.

Continue reading to learn more about the Dodge Dart's gradual transformation into a racing machine.

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