Dodge Phoenix

Carpedia

Jan 21st, 2022

Dodge Phoenix

Back in the day, you'd find plenty of genuine American muscle cars in Australia. 

That was an era in the auto industry when the main philosophy was to offer a capable and spacious vehicle in an affordable package, and Dodge Phoenix was no exception. 

Despite the exclusive Australian-market name, it is a typical 1960s US muscle car, based on models like Dodge Dart, Dodge 440, and Plymouth Fury. 

The Dodge Phoenix was an Australian-assembled car, rolling off from the lines of the old Port Melbourne plant. Some models also came out of the Mile End and Tonsley Park factories in South Australia.

The First Generation of Dodge Phoenix (1960-1972)

The first and the only generation of Dodge Phoenix was in production for a pretty long time – a full 12 years – and it changed a lot during this long production cycle. Dodge practised yearly updates, so each model year was characterised by many unique features.

Design

Despite frequent changes and updates, the overall layout didn't change too much. Although assembled in Australia, the Dodge Phoenix was closely related to North American models like Dodge Dart and 440 and the Canadian Plymouth Fury. The same platform was also used for the Chrysler Valiant, another model designed for the Australian market. 

The Phoenix was relatively simple and designed to be affordable and easy to maintain. For instance, all four wheels were equipped with drum brakes, and the suspension setup wasn't particularly advanced. 

At the front, the car featured lateral control arms in combination with torsion bars, and the rear end featured old-school leaf springs. The whole suspension system was rubber-isolated.

Engine

All model years were equipped with Chrysler's 5.2-litre V8 engine and coupled with a 3-speed automatic transmission to send a max output of 171 kW and 460 Nm of torque to the rear wheels.

The hardtop version was introduced in 1967, and that model came with a new, bigger engine. This unit featured 6.3 litres in displacement with a max power of 200 kW. Like the standard engine, it also came with a 3-speed automatic transmission.

Dodge Phoenix 4-Door Sedan Engine Specs

  • Engine Capacity: 5,210cc
  • Number of Cylinders: 8
  • Fuel Type: Leaded Petrol
  • Forced Induction: -
  • Max output: 171 kW
  • Max Torque: 460 Nm 
  • Transmission: 3-speed automatic

Dodge Phoenix Hardtop Engine Specs

  • Engine Capacity: 6,275cc
  • Number of Cylinders: 8
  • Fuel Type: Leaded Petrol
  • Forced Induction: -
  • Max output: 200 kW
  • Transmission: 3-speed automatic
  • Acceleration (0-100): 10.0s
  • Top Speed: 175 km/h

Model Years

1960 (PD4)

The initial model came in May 1960. That version featured pretty much the same design as North American Dodge Dart but with a dashboard borrowed from the Canadian Plymouth model.

1961 (RD4)

The first update came with the second production year, introducing a revised front and rear ends. The rest of the vehicle remained unchanged.

1962 (SD2)

The first major update came in 1962. This model received a completely new body based on the downsized North American Dodge Dart. Compared to the previous models, it featured a shorter wheelbase and smaller dimensions and a narrower body.

1963 (TD2)

Starting with the 1963 model, the Phoenix was no longer based on the Dart but on the Dodge 440 instead. However, the overall layout remained pretty much the same.

1964 (VD4)

Another major update came with the 1964 model year. The new version was based on the updated 440 model, and besides new aesthetics, the biggest change was a significant increase in size. This model measured 3,022mm in wheelbase and 5,590mm in total length.

1965 (AP2D)

The 1965 Dodge Phoenix brought another major makeover. From this model year on, the car was based on the Plymouth Fury. The most significant change was the new styling, including new, vertically-stacked headlights. The mechanical aspect remained the same.

1966 (DB6)

The DB6 model also brought updates. This time, we saw a new grille and a new boot, new taillights, and rear panels, to name a few.

1967 (DC)

Just one year later, the 1967 Dodge Phoenix brought another big novelty. Besides the standard 4-door sedan, the car was also offered in a hardtop layout for the first time. Not only that, but this version also came with a new 6.3-litre engine. The sedan version remained with the 5.2-litre unit.

1968 (DD)

Codenamed DD, the 1968 model brought another revision of the rear end. We saw new taillights, along with new rear panels. The front end remained unchanged.

1969 (DE)

Once again, big changes. This time, we saw a completely new body, along with the new front end that featured horizontally-stacked headlights. Also, the new model was bigger, with 5,44mm total length and 3,048mm wheelbase. Another interesting novelty was the addition of numbered dash plaques.

1970 (DF)

The 1970 Dodge Phoenix model featured no bigger changes than the 1969 model.

1971 (DG)

No bigger changes were introduced.

1972 (DH)

Once again, no considerable changes. The Phoenix was discontinued the same year.

How Many Dodge Phoenix Cars Were Made?

The exact sales numbers of Dodge Phoenix in Australia are unknown, particularly the initial model years. On the other hand, models after 1969 were produced in limited series. The plan was to sell 400 sedan and hardtop models every year, but we know this goal wasn't met.

According to official data, 371 units were built in 1969 in the Port Melbourne assembly plant. The following year (1971), 385 models came out from the same factory line, 298 in 1971, and only 73 in 1972, the final model year and also the year Port Melbourne plant was closed.

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By Nebojsa Grmusa