Dodge Lancer

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Dodge Lancer
1962 Dodge Lancer 170 2-Door Sedan.JPG
1962 Dodge Lancer 170 2-Door Sedan
ManufacturerDodge (Chrysler)
Body and chassis
PlatformFR layout A-body (for 1961–62)
FF layout H-body (for 1985–89)
SuccessorDodge Dart (for 1963)
Dodge Spirit (for 1989)

The Dodge Lancer is an automobile which was built by Dodge. Initially introduced as a hardtop version of the full-sized 1955 Dodge, the original version was produced until 1959. In 1961, Dodge revived the Lancer nameplate on the compact Chrysler A platform, but this only remained in production for two model years before it was replaced by the Dodge Dart. For 1985, Dodge used the Lancer nameplate on a car based on the mid-sized Chrysler H platform, and this model remained in production until it was replaced by the Dodge Spirit in 1989.

1955–1959 Coronet Lancer, Royal Lancer and Custom Royal Lancer[edit]

1956 Dodge Custom Royal Lancer

Dodge used the Lancer name from 1955 to 1959 to designate the two- and four-door hardtop (no B-pillar) models in the full-sized Coronet, Royal, and Custom Royal lines. The Custom Royal Lancer was a hardtop only and top-of-the-line model for Dodge in 1959. There were 6,278 two-door and 5,019 four-door hardtops made in 1959. A total of 11,397 Custom Royal Lancers were made.

The Custom Royal Lancer featured a big-block V8 engine, the 361 cu in (5.9 L) producing 305 hp (227 kW; 309 PS). A D-500 option was available, which included a 383 cu in (6.3 L) engine with a single Carter four-barrel carburetor rated at 320 hp (239 kW; 324 PS), as well as a Super D-500 version with dual four-barrel carburetors producing 340 hp (254 kW; 345 PS).

The Custom Royal Lancer also featured a padded dashboard and steering wheel, Lancer emblems on the fenders, steering wheel, hubcaps, foot-operated windshield wipers, dual radio antennas, deluxe side trim, and thick chrome eyebrows. Optional equipment included power windows and brakes, air conditioning, and swivel seats. The Lancer designation was dropped for 1960.

1961–1962 Lancer[edit]

'62 Dodge Lancer (Auto classique Hudson '13).JPG
1962 Dodge Lancer 4-Door Sedan
Also calledDeSoto Rebel
AssemblyUnited States:
Hamtramck, Michigan
Los Angeles, California
Newark, Delaware
St. Louis, Missouri
Mexico: Mexico City
Switzerland: AMAG Automobil- und Motoren, Schinznach
Body and chassis
Body style4-door wagon
4-door sedan
2-door sedan
2-door hardtop
LayoutFR layout
RelatedPlymouth Valiant
Chrysler Valiant
Engine170 cu in (2.8 l) Slant-6
225 cu in (3.7 l) Slant-6
Transmission3-speed manual
3-speed A904 automatic
SuccessorDodge Dart

For the 1961 model year, Dodge applied the Lancer nameplate to its higher-priced, upmarket badge-engineered clone of Chrysler's very popular Valiant compact. The model was introduced when Chrysler officially assigned the Valiant to the Plymouth division for 1961, leaving Dodge dealers without a compact to sell. All the same body variants available on the Valiant were also available on the Lancer: two- and four-door sedans, two-door hardtop and four-door wagons. At the end of 1962, it was renamed the Dodge Dart.

Styling & trim[edit]

1961 Dodge Lancer 770 Station Wagon
1962 Dodge Lancer 170 2-Door Sedan
1962 Dodge Lancer GT 2-Door Hardtop

The Lancer wheelbase and body shell were identical to those of the Valiant, but interior and exterior trim were more upscale for the Lancer. Lancers featured round taillights and a full-width grille, instead of the Valiant's cat's-eye taillights and central grille. For 1961, trim levels were the basic "170" and the premium "770". In 1961, the two-door hardtop was marketed only as the "Lancer 770 2-Door Hardtop".[1] For 1962, the hardtop model was marketed as the "GT 2-Door Hardtop" and carried premium trim. Two-tone paint was available and instead of the front bench seat, there were two bucket seats. Also for the 1962 model, "Lancer GT" medallions were mounted on the doors' interior trim panels below the vent window and on the sides of the front fenders just aft of the headlamps. "GT" emblems were placed on the hood, the deck lid and on the vinyl dash pad. The headlamp bezels and the grille's horizontal slats were blacked-out. The GT also lacked certain ornamentation found on the 170s and 770s such as the "Lancer" door scripts, the slanted chrome hash marks on the lower quarter panel, and the hook-ended stainless steel door-to-fender spears.


The Lancer used the slant-6 engine. The base engine was the 170 cu in (2.8 l) unit, rated at 101 bhp (75 kW). The optional power package consisted of the larger 225 cu in (3.7 l) engine, rated at 145 bhp (108 kW). After the start of the 1961 model year, a die-cast aluminum version of the 225 engine block was made available. The aluminum 225 weighed 45 pounds (20 kg) less than the iron 170 and 80 pounds (36 kg) less than the iron 225. Any of the available engines could be equipped at the dealer with Chrysler's Hyper Pak parts kit for a significant power upgrade: the 170 Hyper Pak's published output was 148 bhp (110 kW), while the 225 Hyper Pak's was 196 bhp (146 kW). The Hyper-Pak shaved more than four seconds off the 0 to 60 mph (97 km/h) time versus the standard 225, and was over a second quicker and seven miles per hour faster in the quarter mile.[2] With the Hyper Pak, a 225 Lancer could go from 0 to 60 mph (97 km/h) in 8.6 seconds and turn in a standing quarter mile time of 16.4 seconds.[3] 1962 cars had the engine and transmission moved for a flatter front floor.[4]

Transmission options were a Chrysler-built A903 three-speed manual with the shifter on the floor in 1961 and on the steering column in 1962, or a pushbutton-operated A904 Torqueflite three-speed automatic.

Drag strip & sales competition[edit]

In the 1962 NHRA Winternatonals, Wayne Weihe took home the win in the C/FX (Factory Experimental) class with his Hyper-Pak-equipped Lancer, clocking a 15.67 E.T.[2] Although the bigger Dodges were beginning to appear at drag strips around the country, the "Golden Lancer" of Dode Martin and Jim Nelson was just about the fastest compact on the strips in 1962. Stuffed into the engine compartment was a 413 cu in (6.77 liters) Chrysler RB V8 engine modified by the Chrysler engineers' "Ramchargers" racing team. The Golden Lancer raced successfully in A/FX class and could do the quarter mile in 12.68 seconds at 113 mph.[3]

Lancer sales did not meet expectations[citation needed] and sold about half as well as the Valiant. As a late part of the total redesign of Dodge's compact car for 1963, the Lancer name was discontinued. Dodge compacts for 1963 through 1976 were named Dart, a name that had previously been assigned to a larger car produced by Dodge from 1960 to 1962.

South African market[edit]

In South Africa, a right hand drive version of the Lancer was sold from 1961 through 1963, badged as the DeSoto Rebel not long after the DeSoto name was discontinued in the U.S. All Rebels were equipped with the 170 cu in (2.8 l) Slant 6 engine, and most were equipped with the three-speed manual transmission. As with the Australian RV1 and SV1 Valiants, the Rebel used the instrument cluster from the U.S. 1961 Plymouth Valiant. White reflectors were mounted to the front bumper, in compliance with South African vehicle equipment regulations. The Rebel name was re-introduced by Chrysler South Africa in 1967 as the economy-priced "Valiant Rebel".

1985–1989 Lancer[edit]

1988 dodge lancer es turbo.jpg
1988 Dodge Lancer ES Turbo
ProductionAugust 1984–April 7, 1989
AssemblySterling Heights, Michigan, United States
Body and chassis
Body style5-door hatchback
LayoutTransverse front-engine, front-wheel drive
RelatedChrysler LeBaron GTS
Chrysler LeBaron
Chrysler GTS (Europe)
Shelby Lancer
Engine2.2 l (134 cu in) K I4
2.2 l (134 cu in) Turbo I I4
2.2 l (134 cu in) Turbo II I4
2.5 l (153 cu in) K I4
Transmission5-speed manual
3-speed A413 automatic

The Dodge Lancer was re-introduced in 1985 as a mid-sized 5-door hatchback. It was a rebadged version of the more expensive Chrysler LeBaron GTS and was based on the Chrysler H platform, a stretched version of the Chrysler K platform. The Lancer eventually slotted between the Aries and the 600. All Lancers were built in Sterling Heights, Michigan. Production ended on April 7, 1989, replaced by the Spirit.

Lancer Shelby[edit]

The 1988 to 1989 "Lancer Shelby" was a factory appearance and handling package including upgraded sway bars, shorter springs, and quicker steering along with an assortment of comfort and convenience features including leather seats, power locks, windows, seats and mirrors, a tilt steering wheel and a two-position cup holder.[citation needed] It was inspired by the 1987 Shelby Lancer, which was built by Shelby Automobiles in Whittier, California. Chrysler took over production starting with the 1988 model year, building them in the same Sterling Heights plant as regular Lancers.

The intercooled Turbo II engine with the manual transmission provided 175 hp (130 kW). The automatic variant was equipped with the 146 hp (109 kW) Turbo I[citation needed]. Although it was not planned as a limited edition, only 279 Lancer Shelbys were produced in 1988 and 208 in 1989[citation needed].

European market[edit]

In April 1988, Chrysler started offering some models on the European market. One of them was the "Chrysler GTS", a rebadged version of the Dodge Lancer ES. Due to European vehicle regulations, the exterior appearance was slightly different. The rear turn signals were amber rather than red, the front sidemarkers and the centre high mount stop lamp (CHMSL) were blanked off, small round repeaters were installed into the front fenders and the sideview mirrors were of spring-hinged rather than rigid design. The engine options included the naturally aspirated 2.2 l (134 cu in) Four, and a turbocharged version of the same engine. From 1989 on, the 2.5 l (153 cu in) Four became available with or without a turbocharger. The 2.2 engine was dropped, except for the Turbo II version that was standard equipment on the Chrysler GTS Shelby, the European sibling of the Dodge Lancer Shelby. A five-speed manual gearbox was standard, with a three-speed automatic transmission as an extra cost option. The GTS Shelby came only with the manual transmission.

The Chrysler GTS had few buyers in Europe; the competition was too hard. Even the comparatively low prices could not help, and sales figures were very low. By the end of 1989, the GTS was replaced by the Saratoga.


  1. ^ a b c "1961 Dodge Lancer Brochure". Retrieved 2015-08-23.
  2. ^ a b Morris, Charles R. (2007). Factory Lightweights: Detroit's Drag Racing Specials of the '60s. CarTech. p. 17. ISBN 978-1-932494-44-0.
  3. ^ a b Young, Tony (1984). Mighty Mopars 1960–1974. Motorbooks International. p. 25. ISBN 978-0-87938-124-0.
  4. ^ "Directory Index: Dodge/1962_Dodge/1962_Dodge_Dart-Lancer_Brochure". Retrieved 2015-08-23.

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