The Brazilian Secret: The Intriguing Tale of a Rare 1973 Dodge Charger R/T, Built as an Undercover Dart

When you think of the iconic Dodge Charger, which model comes to mind? Is it the grand tourer-esque 1966 edition, or the sleeker, more muscular 1970 version?

Or perhaps you're a fan of the modern four-door rendition of this legendary nameplate. Whichever era of Charger you prefer, there's no denying the indelible mark this car has made on automotive history.

As a self-proclaimed first-generation Charger enthusiast, my heart may be biased, but I'm open to all interpretations of this legendary car.

Whether you prefer the timeless beauty of the 1966-1971 models or the raw power of the modern sedan, there's no denying the enduring appeal of the Charger nameplate. But did you know that this iconic brand once extended far beyond the boundaries of the American muscle car scene?

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:

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