1960 Dodge: Exclusive Testing at Chrysler Proving Grounds

The Chrysler Proving Grounds in Chelsea, Michigan, is the location where the brand-new 1960 Dodge Dart is being put through tests.

When it first opened its doors in 1954, the Chrysler Chelsea Proving Grounds was one of the most extensive automobile testing facilities in the United States. It was situated just outside of Chelsea, Michigan, approximately 60 miles west of Detroit. The facility is still in operation today, including approximately 4,000 acres of road and test facilities, one of which is a high-banked oval track measuring 5.0 miles in length. This is a rare opportunity for us to gain a glimpse inside the top-secret facility that was dedicated to the launch of a new Chrysler vehicle for the year 1960, the Dodge Dart.

Although the Dart is most commonly known as the compact-class entry for the Dodge brand, it was initially introduced in 1960 as a full-sized automobile that was intended to be sold at a low price. The long and short of it is that Chrysler decided to discontinue its dual Dodge-Plymouth franchises in 1960, which resulted in the Dodge-only dealers being unable to provide a model that was priced affordably on their lots.

The Dodge Dart, which featured Dodge styling on a shorter Plymouth wheelbase, was created to fill the void that existed in the product range with its introduction. The Dart easily outsold the top-of-the-line Dodge vehicles as well as the models from the Plymouth division in 1960, demonstrating the strategy’s complete success.

As we shall soon discover, Dodge introduced several groundbreaking innovations in 1960. These innovations included the Unibody unitized construction, the Slant 6, Chrysler’s first new inline-six engine in decades, and ram-induction intake manifolds for the V8 engine. Although it is only mentioned briefly here, the year 1960 also marked the introduction of Chrysler’s first all-aluminum automatic transmission, which was called the Torqueflite 904. In the video below, we can view all of this information, including the enormous high-speed oval.

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