|Successor||Dodge Dart (for 1963)|
Dodge Spirit (for 1989)
|Platform||FR layout A-body (for 1961-62)|
FF layout H-body (for 1985-89)
Dodge used the Lancer name from 1955 to 1959 to designate both two and four door pillarless hardtop models in the Coronet, Royal and Custom Royal lines. The Lancer designation was dropped for 1960.
Los Angeles, California
St. Louis, Missouri
Mexico City, Mexico
|Body style(s)||2-door hardtop|
4-door station wagon
|Engine(s)||170 in³ (2.8 L) Slant-6|
225 in³ Slant-6
3-speed A904 automatic
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 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: 2- and 4-door sedans, 2-door coupes, and 4-door wagons.
Styling & trim
The Lancer wheelbase and body shell were identical to those of the Valiant, but interior and exterior trim were fancier on 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 2-door hardtop was marketed as the Lancer 770 Sports Coupe, essentially a "performance appearance package". For 1962, the Sports Coupe was given the more concise model name of GT and carried premium trim; 2-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 panels, and the hook-ended stainless steel door-to-fender spears.
The Lancer used the slant-6 engine. The base engine was the 170 in³ (2.8 L) unit, rated at 101 hp. The optional power package consisted of the larger 225 in³ (3.7 L) engine, rated at 145 hp. 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 less than the iron 170 and 80 pounds 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 hp, while the 225 Hyper Pak's was 196. The Hyper-Pak shaved more than four seconds off the 0 to 60 mph time versus the standard 225, and was over a second quicker and seven miles per hour faster in the quarter mile. With the Hyper Pak, a 225 Lancer could go from 0 to 60 mph in 8.6 seconds and turn in a standing quarter mile time of 16.4 seconds.
Transmission options were a Chrysler-built A903 3-speed manual with the shifter on the floor in 1961, on the steering column in 1962, or a pushbutton-operated A904 Torqueflite 3-speed automatic.
Drag strip & sales competition
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 in a 15.67 E.T. 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 in³ (6.8 L) Chrysler 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.
Unfortunately, Lancer sales did not meet expectations 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
In South Africa, a right hand drive version of the Lancer was sold from 1961 through 1963, badged as the DeSoto Rebel not very long after the DeSoto name was discontinued in the U.S. All Rebels were equipped with the 170 in³ (2.8 L) Slant 6 engine, and most were equipped with the 3-speed manual transmission. As with the Australian RV1 and SV1 Valiants, the Rebel used the instrument cluster from the US 1961 Plymouth Valiant. White reflectors were mounted to the front bumper, in accordance with South African vehicle equipment regulations. The Rebel name was re-introduced by Chrysler South Africa in 1967 as the economy-priced Valiant Rebel with a 225 in³ engine equipped with a single-barrel carburetor.
|Assembly||Sterling Heights, Michigan|
|Body style(s)||5-door hatchback|
|Engine(s)||2.2 L K I4|
2.2 L Turbo I I4
2.2 L Turbo II I4
2.5 L K I4
3-speed A413 automatic
|Related||Chrysler LeBaron GTS|
The Dodge Lancer was re-introduced in 1985 as a mid-sized 5-door hatchback. It was a clone to the 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.
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.
The intercooled Turbo II engine with the manual transmission provided 175 hp (130 kW) and a flat torque curve[vague]. The automatic variant was equipped with the 146 hp (109 kW) Turbo I. Although it was not planned as a limited edition, only 279 Lancer Shelbys were produced in 1988 and 208 in 1989.
- Morris, Charles R. (2007). Factory Lightweights: Detroit's Drag Racing Specials of the '60s. CarTech. pp. 17. ISBN 978-1-932494-44-0.
- Young, Tony (1984). Mighty Mopars 1960-1974. Motorbooks International. pp. 25. ISBN 978-0879381240.