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Unique Dart cruiser leads special Thanksgiving parade

by Bill Cawthon on

A one-of-a-kind Dodge Dart police car led a parade of employees from Chrysler’s Belvidere Assembly Plant as they took food for Thanksgiving dinner to the Belvidere/Boone County Food Pantry in Capron, Illinois.

Complete with roof lights and official graphics, the Dart is a real member of the Belvidere Dodge fleet. Since it’s a regular-production vehicle, it doesn’t have all the modifications and heavy-duty equipment found on the Dodge Charger Pursuit. The Dart is a “special services” vehicle used for non-patrol duties – like escorting a caravan of Chrysler employees taking food for the needy to the food bank.

The Dart squad was the brainchild of Belvidere Police Chief Jan Noble. The chief and his staff wanted the fleet to include a car made in the Belvidere Plant.

“The Belvidere Police Department wanted to drive what’s built in their town by their own citizens,” said Peter Grady, Vice President of Network Development & Fleet, Chrysler Group LLC. “This was a terrific opportunity to support the Belvidere police and continue to foster our longtime partnership with this city and region.”

In return for the use of the Dart, the Belvidere Police Department will provide feedback on its experience with the test vehicle. Chrysler will review the data to determine whether a non-patrol Dodge Dart police vehicle could be marketed to other law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for just-auto.com, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.

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