For 1962, the Dart was downsized as part of Chrysler's hastily planned effort to compete with what company leaders thought would be downsized large cars from Chevrolet, but turned out to be the compact-sized Chevy II Nova, which was introduced as a basic front-engined compact to better compete with the Ford Falcon, Rambler American and Plymouth Valiant than the rear-engined Corvair could. Chevrolet continued to field the Impala as a genuinely full-size car, and the Dart was perceived more as an intermediate - like AMC's Rambler Classic or the newly introduced Ford Fairlane - than as a true full-size car.
The Polara shared the body change with the Dart, but was offered in higher trim. Dodge dealers voiced their displeasure at being unable to offer consumers a true "full-size" car. To placate its dealer network, Chrysler hastily created the Dodge Custom 880 by mating its 1961 Dodge Polara front clip to its 1962 Chrysler Newport's de-finned body. Debuting in January 1962, the Custom 880 helped to remind customers that Dodge indeed offered a full-size car.
Styling aside, the new Dart was on an all-new lightweight unibody platform, featuring Chrysler's well-received torsion-bar front suspension and asymmetric leaf springs. The rigidity gained through the nearly pure unibody platform combined with the suspension's low unsprung weight and near-ideal geometry provided sound handling, braking, and acceleration; the latter especially with the mid-year 415 hp (309 kW) "Ramcharger" 413 cu in (6.8 L) V8 which was aimed primarily at sanctioned drag racing, where it quickly broke performance records.
Source: Wikipedia, 2011