The first Dodge Darts, introduced for the 1960 model year, were reduced-size large cars developed to replace the Plymouth as the low-priced car for the Dodge dealer network; Dodge dealers had been selling Plymouths since 1930, but divisional restructuring in 1960 took Plymouth away from the Dodge dealer network. The Dart had a shorter wheelbase than the standard-size Dodge line, and was based on the Plymouth platform. The Dart line was divided into three trim levels: the basic Seneca, the mid-range Pioneer, and the premium Phoenix. The all-new Dart came with an all-new engine as standard equipment: the 225 cu in (3.7 L) Slant-6. 318 cu in (5.2 L) and 361 cu in (5.9 L) V8s were also available with 2bbl or 4bbl carburetors, and with single or dual exhaust.
The Dart was instantly and highly popular. Sales of the Dart outstripped those of the full-size Dodge Matador and Dodge Polara, but it also created an in-house competitor for Plymouth. Even advertising from 1960 and 1961 compared the Dart to the "C" car (Chevrolet), the "F" car (Ford) and the "P" car (Plymouth). Darts equipped with the 225 cu in slant-6 were extremely popular as taxicabs.
As Dart sales climbed, Plymouth's sales dropped and Chrysler's corporate heads did nothing to stop the infighting between the divisions. Dart sales were so strong in 1960 that Dodge had to cut back its medium-priced model lineup. The full-size, mid-priced Matador was discontinued after the 1960 model year as buyers flocked to the better-appointed and less expensive Dart Pioneer. The premium Polara was left alone to wage battle in the medium-price segment.