A Dodge 3700 GT would become, due to a circumstance unrelated to its status as a car, a proscribed, stigmatized, and therefore hidden vehicle. It went from being exhibited in a museum to disappearing for three decades, for no apparent reason. The reason? Let each draw their own conclusions.
History takes us to December 20, 1973, in front of number 104 of Claudio Coello street in Madrid. There, the then President of the Government, Luis Carrero Blanco, he lost his life after suffering an attack inside his car officer with his driver, José Luis Pérez Mogena and the police inspector José Antonio Bueno Fernández, who was traveling in the passenger seat.
As is known, Carrero Blanco was traveling in a Dodge - without the Dart, something that is erroneously repeated in countless texts - model 3700 GT in black and vinyl roof, with registration number 16416 from the Ministerial Mobile Park. As a curiosity, the vehicles whose license plates followed the 16400 were Dodge destined for ministers and high-ranking government officials at the time. Although at first it was destined as the vice president's second vehicle, finally the 416 was assigned exclusively to the presidency.
The Dodge was registered in the Mobile Park on December 30, 1971. Like the majority of similar units of the PMM, the vehicle of Admiral Carrero Blanco, with chassis number 2B9P001830, belonged to the first series. All of them were manufactured at the Chrysler factory in Villaverde in that year. With a gasoline engine and 6 cylinders in line they included, except for the automatic change -which would not arrive until 73-, power steering, brake servo and air conditioning. The model was then chosen as Car of the Year in Spain.
As a curiosity, these first Dodge series were characterized by having the distinctive GT on the rear wings and not located at the base of the roof, specifically on the rear sides; Pilots integrated into the front bumper, absence of side moldings below the door handles and mirrors inherited from the previous model, that is, from the Dart manufactured by Eduardo Barreiros.
Contrary to what has been believed and has been repeated in the film and television recreations that were made of this particular vehicle -perhaps the most successful is the one that could be seen in the miniseries directed by Miguel Bardem for RTVE-, the cars of the Ministerial Mobile Park did not carry two flags on the upper sides of the front, next to the hood, but only one on the right front wing.
Also contrary to media reports, the Dodge was not armored., something that was precisely in charge of spreading the manufacturer itself, Chrysler, with the aim of spreading the idea of the great safety of its sedan. There is talk of an internal report that praises this and other nutritional 3700 GT, for example that, after the explosion, the left indicator continues to function, possibly activated by the driver when turning. This report was both unnecessary and controversial.
The robustness of the car's chassis was demonstrated without the need for publicity gimmicks. The lower part of the vehicle endured an explosion that hit it fully, caused, according to known data, by about 100 kg of dynamite placed in a tunnel dug under the aforementioned street in the Salamanca district.
However, there is an unofficial theory in which it is said that, in addition, the load of several North American anti-tank grenades was added that had been stolen months before from the Torrejón air base. Those grenades could have been placed next to the dynamite, allegedly by the secret services of another country, to ensure that the attack was not going to fail.
If this last theory were true, this could be the explanation that, after bursting the asphalt of the street where the Dodge rolled, the effect of the enormous deflagration caused the almost 1.800 kg of the vehicle to rise vertically, parallel to the rear façade of the church of San Francisco de Borja -Convent of the Jesuits-, approximately 30 meters high, stops, breaking the cornice located in its upper part and after rolling down the roof, go to fall 10 meters lower in the first gallery of the interior patio of the building.
Despite the tremendous damage to the car, especially in the trunk area - which deformed upwards into a V-shape but without actually breaking the rear window! - two of its three occupants, at first, survived the crash. explosion. Bueno Fernández, the police inspector who was sitting in the passenger seat, died immediately since that side was the most damaged. Carrero Blanco died inside the vehicle, while he was given extreme unction by a religious from the Convent. The driver, Pérez Mogena, could be transported alive but died before reaching the hospital due to the severity of his injuries.
A long march
After the attack, the 3700 GT was taken to the garage of the Mobile Park of the Civil Ministries, where it was taken to court on January 5, 1974. It remained there until August 8, 1979, the date on which it was transferred by the Directorate. General of the State Heritage to the Army Museum, where he arrived two days later. It was exposed in the Artillery plant, along with the vehicles in which Juan Prim and Eduardo Dato also lost their lives in the attack. In that place it could be seen, first discovered and later inside a transparent methacrylate box, until during the first half of 1987 it was removed from the museum's permanent exhibition. From this date, the vehicle begins a journey unknown until now.
On July 12 of that year he was transported to the Toledo Infantry Academy and on December 11 he was transferred to the then Delegate Section of the Army Museum, deposited in the warehouses, waiting to set up a suitable area for its exhibition in the facilities of the future museum, which will be located in the Alcázar.
On December 26, 2002 the Dodge returned to Madrid again, although now inside a metal frame created exclusively for transport. The vehicle is transferred together with all the funds of the Delegated Section since, after several years of delay in the start of the works, the Alcazar is finally going to be refurbished. Upon arrival in the capital, the vehicle is deposited in the Central Warehouse of Madrid, whose headquarters are at the Higher Polytechnic School of the Army, on Joaquín Costa Street.
Over the years, most of the funds return to Toledo again, except for Eduardo Dato's Dodge and Marmon 34A. However, the future location of the latter seems to be the Alcázar again, after a restoration process to which it will shortly undergo in Madrid.
On July 7, a vehicle of the Transport Association No. 1 loaded the Dodge and, covered with a tarp, and transferred it from the Higher Polytechnic School of the Army to the Wheel Vehicle Maintenance Center and Park (PCMVR) No. 1 of Torrejón de Ardoz, a town where the Army Automobile Museum is located. Now with military registration number 7994, and surrounded by authentic jewels of military motor racing, it will remain there on loan from the Army Museum (to whom it currently belongs) for the next five years, although everything indicates that Torrejón will be his final destination. It should not undergo any manipulation, unless authorized by the ME experts.
Precisely in September of this year, they were the ones who gave the green light to the withdrawal (finally) of the metal frame in which it had remained since 2002. The lower part has been conveniently painted and used to serve as a robust support to the vehicle, in addition to mobile platform. The wooden beams that were under the car have been removed and replaced with new metal beams that prevent the Dodge from touching the ground with the tires.
Conservators also evaluated its general condition, and authorized its exterior conditioning, removing accumulated dust, which had created a thick layer of dirt. As anecdotal data, when the rear window was cleaned, the original manufacturer's adhesive could be seen, placed in the lower central area of the glass. The interior of the vehicle has not yet been cleaned, given the delicate state of the upholstery and the remains of carpet and other elements (dashboard, center console, doors, etc.).
Likewise, it was authorized to place the passenger seat in its place of origin, since it was disassembled and very badly placed on the rear seat. Once in place, a blue, high-volume package that was in the left area of the rear seat was also removed. Its interior contained several badly damaged foam sheets. But underneath it hid something that had possibly remained hidden since the first storage of the vehicle: the telephone used by Carrero Blanco, and that this type of vehicle was incorporated in the 70s.
These modifications and conditioning have allowed the vehicle to be seen in its entirety, since the primitive frame kept the left side of the Dodge hidden behind a wood for two decades. Now in its new location, the battered 3700 GT it has been exposed to the public again 30 years later.
Dodge maintenance, on the right track
It's never too late. And in the specific case of this vehicle, the three words apply perfectly. The Dodge is a vehicle that suffered a brutal explosion in its lower part, and the consequences are evident in its bodywork. Much more cannot be done about it, but since the decision to keep it was made from the beginning (although with the doubts already told about how and where it should be done), now is the best time to continue with that purpose.
However, analyzing the vehicle in detail, and comparing images taken after the attack in the Parque Móvil car park with the current ones, there are details that indicate that it has suffered some neglect in recent years. They are not serious, but they are striking. It can be seen that the GT emblem is missing from the left rear wing as well as, for example, the breakage of the pilot's lampshade from that same place. There are also some of the small hubcaps located in the center of the wheels, the radio control buttons, the right arm of the windshield wiper, the air filter housing ...
The Dodge was "cleaned up" after the attack. The doors were adjusted so that they would not open, the hood was welded to the front wings, covering (thankfully) the engine, which remains almost intact. It is understandable that taking the protection of such a deteriorated vehicle to the limit entails great difficulty, and all this added to the various transfers it suffered and the apparent lack of interest that the agencies responsible for its removal seemed to show for it years ago. preservation. These are small details that little by little have been added to a list of pending actions to be carried out.
Taking it from the beginning and attending to priorities, it is certain that in the future the vehicle will be perfectly preserved as it is. In addition, it now has the support of the head of the PCMVR, Colonel Juan Carlos Núñez, without whose efforts it could not have been possible to bring the Dodge to its current location. And of course, we must also mention the more than important work of two specialists in charge of watching over (in free time) the funds of the Army Automobile Museum: Second Lieutenants Tomás Gil Corrochano (now retired) and his successor, Antonio Amarante Romero .
But it seems that everything is on the right track. Decisions about its exterior cleaning have already been made, something that has just been done. The next will be whether or not an antioxidant treatment is applied to the body. And then its interior will be evaluated, since after the driver's seat is installed, the state of the upholstery, carpet and what remains of the dashboard appears too fragile and, for now, has not been touched.
These measures and others to be carried out will be decided by the curators of the Army Museum, that is, those who have made the right decision to remove the outer metallic skeleton that protected the Dodge during its multiple transfers. If these types of measures continue to be carried out, it is certain that the vehicle can be preserved and shown in the future as what it is: a museum piece.
(We are grateful to the Ministries of Defense, Finance and Public Administrations, the State Mobile Park, and the PCMVR, for their invaluable and prompt help to finally be able to reconstruct the history of the vehicle from 1987 to the present).