Produced during the total dominance of the Ford Mustang, the Dodge Charger managed not only to become a proper rival to the latter but also to win its bold place in the popular muscle car market.
Many consider the greatest muscle car of all time to be the Ford Mustang. The fact is that when in 1964 it transformed into a more compact car, all competing manufacturers made their ultimate goal to defeat the Mustang. In many ways, these attempts failed, and the final result was nothing interesting. However, some forever imprinted their names on the “muscular” cars’ history. One of these, of course, was the Charger. Interestingly, the most iconic and legendary was the 1969 release.
In the late 1960s, the American auto industry was engulfed in a craze for fast, powerful, and affordable vehicles. Such cars began to be used as ordinary vehicles, mainly by youth striving to get a powerful, fast, and stylish vehicle to show off on a road. The story started with the release of the Pontiac GTO in 1964. This vehicle got tremendous popularity among US auto enthusiasts which forced other manufacturers to create similar models. Chrysler Corporation’s response was a redesigned 425 hp Hemi engine, called the Elephant, which was installed on the road versions of the Dodge (Dart and Coronet). But the brand’s masterpiece was the Charger model.
In 1966, the model was introduced as the company’s new flagship vehicle. The headlights, which were closed by a movable radiator grille made a strong impression on buyers. The first models sold very well. However, the boom in the muscle car market led Dodge to think about restyling its flagship models. Under the direction of designer Richard Sias, a new stylish appearance of the second generation was developed.
Source: AEM D:sign
The style of the car in those days meant much more to the owner than it does now. That is why it was not possible to find a single plastic part in the car. Exceptionally metallic and chrome surfaces were the perfect solution for the design of that era. Launched for the first time in 1966, the Dodge Charger went through several changes for its fateful 1969 release. First of all, the 1969 model was marked by a new exterior. These changes included a new center split grille and new taillights by designer Harvey J. Winn. A new trim line called Special Edition (SE) was added and could be ordered separately. This Special Edition package also featured leather inserts on the front seats, chrome moldings, and wood inserts on the dashboard. It was the exterior that became the trump card of the 1969 Dodge Charger and lifted it to the top along with other eminent muscle cars. In 1969 alone, almost 90,000 cars were sold. Тechnical characteristics of the 1969 model were impressive. The entire line of this year’s release was equipped with exceptionally powerful engines. Buyers could choose a car with seven engine options. Among them, only one was a six-cylinder, with a volume of 3.7 liters, with a capacity of 225 hp. The rest were entirely V8, with volumes from 5.2 to 7 liters. The power range of the ’69 Dodge Charger ranged from 318 to 390 horsepower. Even with the “weaker” engine, the vehicle accelerated to hundreds in less than 9 seconds, and the maximum speed fluctuated around 200 km / h. Such dynamic characteristics, by the standards of the youth of those times, were more important than life itself. Another interesting fact is the nickname the model got. Due to its distinctive exterior, it was known as the “Coke Bottle”.
An important moment in 1969 Dodge Charger’s biography was the release of a special Daytona version, created specially for the American national NASCAR races. Most road adaptations of this racing version received a huge 7.2-liter Chrysler V8 engine (375 hp). For NASCAR races, an engine with over 500 hp was prepared. As the car’s aerodynamic drag was reduced by about 20%, it developed an enormous top speed. At the Talladega Speedway in Alabama, it hit an impressive 320 km/h straight.
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