In the late ’60s, the wild Barris-created Daroo I generated loads of attention for Dodge on the custom car show circuit. Here’s more.
The Dodge Daroo I, one of the wildest factory show cars on the ’60s scene, was the product of a partnership between Dodge design manager Bill Brownlie and George Barris, Hollywood’s self-professed King of the Kustomizers. Revolution was in the air and the Daroo I, with its radical, cut-down profile and flamboyant pearl paint, made a big splash for Dodge on the custom car show scene. While there was never any production intent for the flamboyant custom, Chrysler was a major presence on the hot rod show circuit with its Rapid Transit and Scat Pack display programs, and the Daroo I made an ideal attraction.
Brownlie sent to Barris a new 1967 Dart GT, a red convertible with the rare 383 CID option, and the Southern California shop went to work with the hammers and torches. The production Dart body shell was shortened 10 inches in the rear and lengthened 17 inches in the front, and a deep, V-shaped nose was fabricated. The Barris crew then replaced the windshield with a low, wraparound plastic screen with extensions that stretched the length of the rear deck, lowering and lengthening the silhouette.
The rear seat area was closed off with a fitted metal tonneau, converting the five-place convertible into a two-seat roadster with no provision for a top. The cockpit was restyled in black naugahyde, and stylized fake intake stacks on the hood and exhaust pipes in the rocker panels completed the competition-flavored look.
For the 1968 car show season, the Daroo I (the word means “dart” in Anglo-Saxon, according to the press releases) was finished in a brilliant golden-orange color called Pearl Honey Yellow. The Daroo was such a hit in its hot rod show appearances that it was sent back out for a second season-long tour sporting a mild facelift and fresh lime green candy paint (photo below). The car was then retired from show duty and safely tucked away, and fortunately, it still exists today in the hands of proud owner Steve Juliano of New York.
There was also a Dodge Daroo II (photo below), which has generated a bit of confusion about the identity of Daroo I. The first Daroo was in such high demand for show appearances that Dodge had a second, sort-of lookalike car constructed by the Oklahoma company that made the automaker’s funny car bodies. The Daroo II, sporting red paint and a boxy, awkward look, was a flop and was soon pulled from display rotation. Although it has worn both green and golden-orange paint at different times during its life, there is only one Daroo I.