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First Coast Gears: 'Devilish' Dart defies Dodge's '73 name change decision

9:31 AM, Nov 3, 2012   |    comments
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Photo Gallery: First Coast Gears: Main St. cruise, Ga., Fla. edition

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The 2013 Dodge Dart is all about gas mileage and economical European sophistication. Higher-end models even feature a gee-whiz reconfigurable dashboard display.

The 2013 Dart is Dodge's first new car with strong dose of Fiat DNA.  It's based on the Alfa Romeo's Giulietta and marks a very different approach than the Darts built between 1960 and 1976.

Several 1970s era Darts were cruising Main Street last Saturday night in Springfield, including David Rapp's heavily customized 1973 Dart Sport.

Rapp, who lives in the Baymeadows area, is one of those Internet pioneers. He bought his Dart nine years ago on eBay when automotive sales on the 'Net were just beginning to gain traction.

Rapp says his Dodge was a basket case and he's been "throwing money at it every since." If you're looking for a classic all-original restoration, this isn't it but if you like head-turning screamers, then Rapp's creation will surely make you grin.

The centerpiece is a balanced and blueprinted V8 that Rapp says puts out 425 horsepower. When he wants a some extra go, he's got a nitrous-oxide set-up to liven up the manual shifts between one and four.

For '73, the Dart got revised fenders, grille, header panel and hood along with bigger front bumpers to comply with tougher crash standards. Out back, the tail lights were changed to two lights per side.

Although the word "pedestrian" certainly doesn't apply to Rapp's Dart, back in 1973, most Darts that rolled off the factory line were exactly that. Dodge even relented on the "Hellish" reputation the earlier performance model had gained. 

For 1973, the former Demon fastback Dart was renamed the Dart Sport, which is what Rapp has. Streetlegaltv.com and other websites report the car was renamed after objections were raised by Christian groups to the car's name and devil-with-a-pitchfork cartoon logo.

While Rapp's Dart may not be a Demon, there's no question it's got a "devilish" attitude, making it one fun ride to see cruising the streets of Jacksonville.

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