Charging Through The Years – Muscle Car Of The Week Episode 366
For many people, the name Dodge Charger is synonymous with the term Muscle Car. The muscular design and powerful engine options practically define what a Muscle Car should be.
When Charger hit the scene in mid 1966, it looked like nothing else from Dodge. Charger ads claimed this car made it from the “drawing board to the driveway with all the excitement left in.” The most dramatic styling element is the long, sloping fastback roofline, complete with the large concave rear window. The sleek profile is enhanced by the sculpted body sides, complete with vent-shaped reliefs to break up the long quarter panels. It was compared to the AMC Marlin, but most reviews favored the Charger’s design over the AMC.
The nose featured a tight, cast grille with chrome vertical fins and hidden headlights, another uncommon feature in ‘66 but soon to appear on many American cars.
Inside, the ‘66 Charger also differed from other mid size sedans with it’s 4-place bucket seating, and the ability to fold the rear seats flat for storage space, or to take a nap. A front to back console was a cool feature also not seen before in an American midsize ride. We can’t forget the electroluminescent gauges and their spacy greenish-blue glow… too cool.
But for gearheads, the best part is that the “Charge” was put in Charger with an available 426 Steet Hemi engine cranking out 425 HP through dual quads and 10:1 compression. It would seem the ‘66 Charger had it all. Dodge built less than 500 Hemi Chargers for ‘66 like our black and red one from The Brothers Collection.
Little changed for 1967. Dodge added external turn signal indicators outside, and deleted the cool full length console inside to make it easier to get in and out of the car. The Hemi option remained, but only 118 were sold with the Elephant engine, as Charger sales slumped as buyers flocked to smaller Pony cars. This clean white ‘67 was an official Dodge show car back in the day.
A big styling revision occurred for ‘68, with the sloping rear view being ditched for the hot new “flying buttress” look, and a more slab-sided body design. Most of the underpinnings remained the same, but the new exterior look completely changed the attitude of the Charger. Hidden headlights remained in the grille, but the overall body shape featured large curves in the fenders and rear quarters, kind of a stretched-out coke bottle design, with a subtle kick-up at the rear deck like a racing spoiler. The look was a hit from the start.
The interior was more traditional, with a full-width front and rear bench seat standard, and optional front buckets. Under the hood, a slant six was offered for the first time, but the V8s ranged all the way up to the 426 Hemi as seen here in the high performance Charger R/T . Sales skyrocketed from less than 16,000 ‘67s to over 90,000 1968s. Charger was charging hard.
The ‘69 and ‘70 models remained similar in their overall design, with easy to spot differences if you know where to look. First up is the tail lights. 1968 cars featured interesting round lenses, while 1969 switched to a nearly full-width thin lens design, which remained for 1970.
Up front, the grilles changed each year , with 1968 having a completely blacked-out grille, 1969 added a vertical split in the middle, and 1970 split the grille horizontally into two halves surrounded by a thin bright rim.
Chargers rode on a front torsion bar suspension system, with leaf springs out back securing the various available rear axle assemblies. They were fairly large and imposing cars, tipping the scales around 3800 lbs with a 4-speed and a Dana 60 rear axle. Even so, they ran hard, posting mid-high 13 second quarter mile times back in the day on stock tires.
The ‘68 – ‘70 Charger design remains iconic and instantly recognizable, and it’s no wonder why these cars are the favorites of so many muscle car fans around the world.
Thanks to The Brothers Collection for letting us share some of their amazing Chargers on Muscle Car Of The Week!
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