1974: Dodge dealers must sit through strange Dart presentations

Dart Dozen promotional slide from 1974

An artist built a puzzling three-dimensional DART DOZEN display for this campaign

Back in the 1980s, when I was doing a lot of what we’d now call multimedia installation art pieces, I used slide projectors for displaying images. I liked to mount black-and-white 35mm negatives in glass slide mounts, generally with colored gels to give them some added weirdness. Those slide mounts were (and are) hellaciously expensive, but I found a Los Angeles photography-supply store that sold used ones for reasonable prices, and I picked up a big box that still had images from some 1974 Chrysler slide-show used for dealership presentations about the new Dart. I saved some of the better images, and this one— showing a three-dimensional “Hometown Dodge” storefront with 12 darts labeled as “the Dart Dozen”— stands as an interesting, if bewildering, piece of automotive marketing history.

1974 Dodge Dart Hang Ten promotional photograph

These images were so inspirational to me at the time (1988) that my band, Murilee Arraiac (yes, there’s a connection) recorded a song called “1974.” The coolest of the batch was this shot of a 1974 Hang Ten Dart and matching surfboard (you got the surfboard when you bought the car) in a rock quarry.

1974 Dodge promotional slide

It appears that this presentation, which I imagine taking place in a hot, stuffy room full of chain-smoking Dodge salesmen, used “Home Town Dodge” as an example of the kind of place where the dozen unique qualities of the 1974 Dart would truly be appreciated.

Dart Dozen – Right On Target

The Home Town Dodge display appears to have been made from cardboard and white glue, for a nice 3D effect. The dozen darts of the Dart Dozen (presumably influenced by the 1967 film “The Dirty Dozen”) flank this RIGHT ON TARGET centerpiece. Here we see some key selling points of the ’74 Dart (which didn’t differ all that much from the past seven years of Darts, other than having less power and bigger bumpers), including the doubtful claim that the car has room for 5 or 6 and the legitimate claim that it had an electronic ignition system.

Dodge Dart Dozen Darts – left

The darts bragging about Dart features on the left of the target cover such machines as the Convertriple, the Dart 360, and the Dart Sport.

Dodge Dart Dozen Darts – right

On the right, a couple of Dart SE option packages get the total to the magical twelve, while the Sport Rallye Dart and Topper (a Dart with a vinyl landau roof) keep things interesting. A few years later, the Aspen would replace the Dart, and Dodge dealers would have to learn a whole new set of buzzwords.

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