This Rare 1973 Dodge Charger R/T Is an Undercover Dart Built in Brazil

What's the first car you think of when you hear Dodge Charger? Is it the 1966 version with its grand tourer-like design or the sportier-looking 1970 variant? Or you're more into the modern four-door iteration of the nameplate.
1973 Dodge Charger R/T (Brazilian market) 10 photos
Photo: Matt Gause/YouTube
1973 Dodge Charger R/T (Brazilian market)1973 Dodge Charger R/T (Brazilian market)1973 Dodge Charger R/T (Brazilian market)1973 Dodge Charger R/T (Brazilian market)1973 Dodge Charger R/T (Brazilian market)1973 Dodge Charger R/T (Brazilian market)1973 Dodge Charger R/T (Brazilian market)1973 Dodge Charger R/T (Brazilian market)1973 Dodge Charger R/T (Brazilian market)
I'm more of a first-generation Charger guy, but there are no wrong answers here. Because while the original and the modern Chargers may differ, both have solid attributes to consider. The 1966 to 1971 version is a hot, desirable collectible, while the contemporary sedan is powerful and roomy. But did you know that the Charger nameplate once existed beyond the U.S.-made muscle cars?

Australia, for instance, also got a Charger from 1971 to 1978. But it didn't have anything in common with the American version. It was based on the Chrysler Valiant, a locally-built variant of the Plymouth wearing the same badge in the US. And yes, this muscle car wasn't a Dodge, being sold as the Chrysler Valiant Charger.

In Brazil, on the other hand, the Pentastar sold a Charger with a Dodge badge. But this version also had nothing in common with the Charger we all know and love; it was based on the Dart compact. The latter arrived in the South American country in 1969, and Dodge started offering a higher-performance, Charger-badged version in 1971.

Initially available as a four-door sedan only, the Brazilian-spec Dart gained a two-door hardtop variant in 1970. The coupe was so popular that Dodge decided to add a sportier iteration with a more powerful engine and design features inspired by the already iconic, U.S.-made Charger.

While not radically different compared to the Dart design-wise, the compact Charger had a handful of features that made it stand out. Highlights included a full-width grille over the front fascia, stretched C-pillars that mimicked flying buttresses, and unique rear fender stripes (on the range-topping R/T model).

On the performance front, the Dart-based Charger wasn't as potent as its American counterpart, but it came with some extra oomph over the regular hardtop. The latter was fitted with a 318-cubic-inch V8 rated at 198 horsepower. Dodge intentionally kept the power rating below the 200-horsepower mark to help keep taxes low. The Charger arrived with the same LA-type small-block engine, but with a higher compression ratio and a high-performance two-barrel carburetor. These upgrades increase output to 215 horsepower, 17 more than the Dart.

Even though the latter remained in production until 1981, Dodge discontinued the Charger after only a few years on the market. Come 2023, and the Brazilian-designed Charger is a rare sight in South America and a rare gem on U.S. soil. The silver hardtop you see here is one of only a few Brazilian Chargers that made it to North America and is one of the finest survivors out there.

A 1973 version, it sports a split front grille (that hides the Dart-spec headlamps) and what appears to be a 1968 U.S.-spec Dart hood. Unlike the first-year 1971 variant, which came with C-shaped decals on the rear fenders, this iteration features a pair of thin stripes running the car's entire length.

Impressively enough, the car appears to be in showroom condition, which suggests that it was restored when imported to the United States. It's unclear if it's entirely factory stock and still has a numbers-matching V8 under the hood, but it's a unique and intriguing piece of muscle car history. Check out the video below for a complete walk-around.

Video thumbnail
If you liked the article, please follow us:  Google News icon Google News Youtube Instagram X (Twitter)
About the author: Ciprian Florea
Ciprian Florea profile photo

Ask Ciprian about cars and he'll reveal an obsession with classics and an annoyance with modern design cues. Read his articles and you'll understand why his ideal SUV is the 1969 Chevrolet K5 Blazer.
Full profile


Would you like AUTOEVOLUTION to send you notifications?

You will only receive our top stories