The Australian Dodge Phoenix

Chrysler Australia imported the Dodge Phoenix as a flagship, above both the Valiant and the locally-built Royal. Based on the 1960 Dodge Dart in the United States — the early Dart, not the Valiant twin — it had a 318 cubic inch V-8 that pushed the relatively light car quickly (an optional B-series engine came in 1967). In either case, buyers got a two barrel carburetor; the Phoenix delivered luxury rather than performance, with the early ones available in “Luxury Liner” trim.

Phoenix photo

In the United States, the Phoenix was a trim-line of the Dart.

The Phoenix was restyled within a year of its introduction. A single year later, it was restyled again, dropping its fins and gaining an interesting grille; this was the S series.  It was shorter, narrower, and lighter, and had an alternator, one of the first cars to gain this aid to reliable service. In each case, the car was similar to its American counterpart in appearance and trim.

A year later, the T series came out (1963), with a longer wheelbase, greater overall length, and higher trim, being based on the American Dodge Dart 440. Just one year later, Chrysler launched the V series, with a restyled front end and four horizontal headlamps. That was to be the end of the Dodge-based Phoenix.

Phoenix photo

In 1965, the A-series Dodge Phoenix was launched. It looked like a Plymouth Fury, which was no surprise considering it was a Fury III with Australian localization. From that point, most changes were cosmetic, with the DB, DC, DD, DF, and DG series. The DB added a bow-tie rear; the DC moved the chrome and lights around, and added a larger optional engine and a four-door hardtop model; the DD simplified the grille; the DF went to the single-piece loopy bumpers; the DG used a new recessed grille. The DD also added a hardtop version, with a 383 cubic inch engine. A small number of wagons were shipped over, mainly for hearse duty.

There were two minor oddities in these cars. First, the 1965 and newer Dodge Phoenix had a Dodge Polara style dashboard (ironic since the originals were Dodges with Plymouth dashboards); second, they used older windshield wiper systems than their American counterparts. They were set up for right-hand drive, in accordance with Australian and New Zealand roads.

A 400 series, of which 400 were produced, was brought out in 1969, featuring a longer wheelbase, front power disc brakes, horizontal headlamps, a concave rear window, and a different grille. The hardtop 400 had more power.

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