At the peak of the muscle cars fever, the legend of the American auto industry Dodge Charger was born – the iconic car of Chrysler Corporation, designed to compete with Pontiac.
After the resounding success of the Ford Mustang, many American automakers followed in Ford’s footsteps and released machines of a similar class. The new strategy of the brand called for Chrysler-branded vehicles to compete against Oldsmobile and Buick, Plymouth against Chevrolet and Ford, and Dodge against Pontiac. Thus was born one of America’s greatest muscle cars, the Charger.
In the 60s, the marketing strategy of Chrysler Corporation changed with the new president Lynn Tuansend. According to this strategy, Dodge was meant to become Pontiac’s competitor. Thus, the new president wanted to increase the value and profitability of the brand. As big dealers were not happy with such prospects, assuming that in the short term it would hit their profits hard it was decided to launch a sports coupe on a mid-size platform that would help in the fight against the Ford Mustang and Pontiac.
Source: Top Speed
Remarkably, the Coronet model, introduced in 1965, was meant to become the first “muscle” from Chrysler. There was no trace of the “full-size” 50s, the machine was built on the mid-size “B” platform, on which all Dodge models of that time were based, except the flagship Custom 880. However, competitors like Ford Fairlane, Pontiac GTO, and Chevrolet Impala SS were much more impressive and harmonious, which concerned the Dodge division. So, in parallel with the Coronet, a prototype of another machine (based on later) was laid. It was the now-famous Charger. The model looked rather unusual – a large fastback with a long and smoothly falling roofline, rear lighting throughout the entire width of the body.
Source: Barn Finds
The designers also kept in mind the “blind” front end, similar to the grid of an electric razor … The project received the approval of Chrysler bosses and pre-production ideas boiled up. The first pre-production example was demonstrated to the general public during the Rose Bowl Games in 1965, at the university leagues superfinal match, traditionally and annually held on January 1 in California. The game attracted 100,087 spectators at the stadium and millions at the radio and television sets. The play was between UCLA and the University of Michigan. What a perfect place to present a new machine!
In 1966, the Dodge Charger went on sale. The most distinguishing feature of the 1966 model was the hidden headlights and the original grille, which was popularly called the “electric razor”. Since the Charger was originally designed as a muscle car, a powerful engine was vital for it. And there were no problems with that! Only V8 engines with 230, 260, 335, and 425 hp were installed on it. The last one is the legendary Hemi, without a doubt the most spectacular motor of the muscle era. Competitors could not even dream of such a thing. By the way, Hemi developed all 500 l/s, which was much more than the declared number. Remarkably, in the 60s, the taxes on vehicles were paid depending on the engine size in Europe. In the US, on the contrary, taxes were paid for the amount of horsepower under the hood. Therefore, in the USA, “seven-liter giants” were used. And in the documents, the power was slightly underestimated so that the burden of taxes would not hit the wallet so hard.
With such powerful engines in service, the Charger became famous not only on public roads but also as a NASCAR racing legend. It was on this “monster” that the milestone of 200 miles per hour (320 km/h) was first overcome at the famous American circuit races. Moreover, the engineers worked a little on the aerodynamic characteristics and called the modification Daytona. A streamlined “nose” was added at the front, and a spoiler was installed at the back – 70 centimeters high! Thanks to the power of the vehicle, commensurate with the power of the train, 80% of all NASCAR podiums were occupied by Charger drivers!
Sports vehicles have always been filmmakers’ favorites, and the Dodge Charger is not an exception. As an iconic vehicle of the 60s, it appeared in many action movies such as They Call It Murder (1971), Teenage Mother (1967), Thunder Alley (1967), The Greatest American Hero (1981-1983), NASCAR: The Ride of Their Lives (2008), American Muscle Car (1998-2007) and many more.
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