SEMA eNews Vol. 16, No. 28, July 11, 2013

Spy Shots—Mystery Dodge Dart

 dart

The shooters at KGP Photography have photographed a Dodge Dart that is heavily covered in fresh camouflage, but what this disguised Dart represents is currently a mystery.

This Dart's camouflage is different from the camo applied to Dart prototypes before the car made its public debut in January 2012. This camouflage has clearly been redesigned, meaning that this is not just simply an old prototype that hasn't shed its old camouflaging clothes. No obvious changes are discernible beneath the camouflage, however, which makes it hard to pinpoint the nature of this test car. There are three possible scenarios to explain what's going on with this Dart:

  • It could be a standard Dart disguised for some double-blind consumer clinics (but there are some problems with this theory, which are outlined below).
  • It could be an early prototype for the Dart's mid-cycle facelift.
  • It could be a special-edition Dart of some sort, perhaps even an early prototype for a Dart SRT-4.

Clinic Car?

Throughout the years, there have been groups of competing models all disguised in the same manner to hide their identities and gauge pure consumer reactions to various models without any relation to the badge or manufacturer. In the case of this Dart, that could be an outside possibility, but there are some problems with this theory: 

  • Any similarly camo'ed cars were nowhere to be seen.
  • This Dart was wearing the same wheels found on the first Alfa Giulietta-based mules and the initial Dart prototypes. These wheels are not available on any production Dart models, and one would assume that any Dart being set-up for consumer-clinic duties orchestrated by Dodge/Chrysler would be offered in some form that is available to consumers in Dodge dealerships.
  • The exhaust on this camouflaged Dart is without its proper tips, and the exhaust system looks too skewed and represents a normal-production Dart being presented for consumer clinics.

With these observations, there are glaring problems with the Clinic Car theory.

Dart Mid-Cycle Facelift?

The Dart is reportedly due for its mid-cycle facelift in the ’16 model year, which could mean an availability in calendar year 2015. Although it seems early for a mid-cycle facelift to begin appearing for the Dart, it remains an outside possibility that this is an early prototype for the Dart facelift. If Dodge is looking to make changes a little ahead of schedule to help the Dart stay competitive in the marketplace, then this theory would be a more likely answer.

Special-Edition Model?

Is this Dart a new spin-off package, requiring the new camouflage? While there is admittedly no smoking-gun evidence that points to this as a higher-performance Dart, Ralph Gilles has stated that an SRT-tuned Dart was a near certainty, so this could be an early prototype for something along those lines.

The car in these photos really raises more questions than it answers, making these spy shots a real head-scratcher at this point. There's clearly something going on, with plenty of effort and some cost applied to this Dart, but it's uncertain exactly what's in the works here.

 dart

Photo credit: KGP Photography 

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