Made Right Here, In Belvidere
It’s loud, dangerous, and wonderful. The air smells and even tastes like petroleum lubricant and hot steel. I sneak a touch to the smooth, perfectly stamped hood.
With shiny hard hat and fashionable safety glasses, I stand mere feet from giant presses which make door panels.
If I close my eyes and go to my happy place, I can recall the thrill, excitement, and titillation of being in an automobile manufacturing plant.
Belvidere, IL, is not too far to travel in order to reacquaint myself to this scenario.
The first Dodge Darts to come out of the revitalized Chrysler plant in Belvidere, Illinois were shipped off to dealers this week, setting the stage for what chief executive Sergio Marchionne called the automaker’s “real battle” in the compact market.
The 2013 Dart five-seat sedan, made at the Belvidere assembly plant, has received good reviews from automotive analysts so far and will now be judged by consumers.
“Our future hangs on how well we do here,” Marchionne told reporters Thursday after meeting with the plant’s workers. “I’ve been public on this before. I can probably get one car wrong. Of all the cars I can get wrong, it ain’t this one. This one is too visible, it’s too large, it’s got too much embedded into it to go wrong.”
As for me, I’ll take one in Tungsten Metallic, black leather interior, and a 16-valve 2.4L (184 hp) Tigershark™ MultiAir® four-cylinder engine.