The cars : Dodge Polara

Undoubtedly, the most stylish Hillman Avenger derivatives were the Brazilian ones. The Dodge Polara looked almost like a two-door Coupe, such was its roofline. 

In Brazil, this nameplate didn’t last very long and, unlike in Argentina, where Volkswagen continued production, it was pulled in 1981.

Dodge Polara: The Latin take on a new Avenger

Dodge Polara

The Hillman Avenger was also built by Chrysler do Brasil from 1971 to 1980 as the Dodge 1800 and later as the Dodge Polara. This was almost identical to the Argentinean Dodge 1500 and 1800, right down to the sleeker-looking two-door body and revised rear lamps.

For the Brazilian market, the Dodge Polara would end up augmenting the Dart in popularity, and proving to be something of a sales success – though that wasn’t the case straight out of the box for the more sober looking Dodge 1500 and 1800. In Brazil just the two-door version was offered, which also featured a different style of rear side window to that used on the European model and identical to its Argentine cousin.

Called Dodginho in Portuguese, the 1500 and 1800 were not initially a sell out despite a relatively nice interior, partly because it was not well adapted to local driving conditions. However, local development and a shift in marketing soon turned around the stylish car’s fortunes.

Dodge Polara advert

Change name for more success?

To increase sales, its name was changed to Polara, which had a relatively good image thanks to its connection with Chrysler’s long-lived full-sized model bearing the same name in the USA. The model range was shifted upwards and, along with a number of small technical changes, made all the difference.

In 1980, the Polara range was expanded to include the GL and GLS (above) models, which both sported an attractive new dashboard design and some bold new colours.

This would end up being the first Brazilian production vehicle to be offered with an automatic transmission as standard. Sales were never stellar, being steady at best for its last six years, but it was an improvement over its earlier years at about 13,000 per year. In 1981, production of the Dodge Polara ceased, when Chrysler pulled out of the Brazilian market, and the line came to an end.

Dodge Polara GLS Coupé (World Cars 1981)
Dodge Polara GLS Coupé (World Cars 1981)

Press Photos: Dodge Polara and 1800

Dodge 1800 two-door

Dodge Polara Gran Luxo (World Cars 1980)
Dodge Polara Gran Luxo (World Cars 1980)
Keith Adams


  1. From a UK standpoint the most notable thing about these Avengers was the ‘Brazilian block’. The larger 1800 engine was used in competition and they were known as ‘Brazilian block’ Avengers. I am not sure if the engine was homologated by Des O’Dell but quite few were in use at club level.

  2. I’ve a dodge avenger 1976, asmbeling in indonesia, I am search a dashbord, spedo meter, and a gasoline gauge. do you have a idea? thanks

  3. Hi guys, I’m from Brazil and have a 1980 Dodge Polara GL, (and my english is terrible) some points, all the Brazillian Avengers where produced with 1800 engine, the dodges/volkswagen 1500 was produced at Argentina only, we only have the coupé model.
    The last year of production was 1981, when Volkswagen buy the chrysler factory (1980) and decide use that factory to made trucks.
    They don’t sell so much at first years, but at 1977 with factory adjustments, the car was choosed like “Car of the year” by a specialized magazine “Auto Esporte”. They change the name to Polara trying erase the bad image of the first years, but at this time was to late.
    Another point, the SU/Hitachi carburator was a great one for Polara, but the brazillian mechanix doesn’t know how to fix ’em, sad, but true.

  4. Can anyone tell me about the Brazilian 2 litres version of the Avenger engine? Were they only for special request (rally), not standard? For many years I have heard about the Brazilian 2 litres block, but it’s hard to find anything about it. There was also a BRM (British Racing Motors) twin cam head made for Avengers, did they also make them inBrazil? Hope someone can answer me, thank you.

    • As I recall it was only sold as an 1800 and followed the same architecture as the smaller engine. The engine was stroked to 2 litre for competition purposes and Des Odell who ran the competition department commissioned BRM to develop a alloy twin cam head to mount on it for competition purposes. This was raced first in 1800 and then stroked to 2 litre in the hope of making it competitive which it never really was. It involved some “creativity” by Des Odell to get in homologated, because of their nt being a production version.

      The 1800 engine itself was conceived as a base engine to go in the “cooking” version of the car that became the Chrysler 160,180 and 2 Litre. To sell alongside the V6 engine models. Naming was never finalised but you may well have seen a Hillman 1800, Sunbeam 2000 and Humber 2400 to compete with the Triumph 2000 / 2500 and Rover 2000 / 2200. When the UK vraints of that car was canned the tooling was “recycled” some being used to create the 1300 and 1600 engines that replaced the 1250 and 1500 originally offered and other was sold to the Brazilian operation. The 1800 block being imported from Brazil in small numbers by the Competition department. I recall a UK dealer selling the Sunbeam Gazelle that used a 2 litre gas flowed engine as a cheaper alternative to the Sunbeam Lotus for those who wanted to go rallying.

  5. Do not forget where the Hillman Avengers finished their long existence : built until year 1991 with a facelifted version of Volkswagen Argentina , simply called Volkswagen 1500 , a car that improved a lot the inherent qualities of the original Brit versions

  6. One think I notice on the mid 70s facelifted facia, it is not the exactly the same as that used in the UK on the Avenger and Sunbeam. The difference I notice is that as I recall it, in the UK the clock was located in the centre console with the radio in the main facia and the ancillary buttons where either side of the steering column below the instrument binnacle.

  7. Looks like quite a visual improvement over the European Avenger, now if it could only be applied to the 4-door and estate in tandem with the UK facelift.

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