Readers Rides

The Classic Dodge Charger

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By Mark Weisseg

The Dodge Charger started to become popular with the 1966-67 fast back.
It was not everyone’s favorite at the time. Some even said those two years reminded them of the AMC Marlin of later years. I happen to like the ’66-67 Charger, but nothing compares to the 68, 69, and 70’s models.

The cars were so beautiful, so iconic, so breath taking that they were used in all kinds of TV shows and movies. It came standard with the 383 engine and could go to a 440 and the rare 426.
Generally, the Chargers came with a 727 transmission and they all had a vinyl top. The car came with either the bench seat or buckets and the most popular color was black inside. It’s kind of odd today to see a big bench seat and a shifter on the column. The dash was very simply laid out and nothing was a mystery. In fact, if you had a four speed Dodge and/or a Plymouth, they put a little yellow light at the bottom of the dash that lit up to tell you that you were in reverse. Nothing was left to chance I guess.

The most popular Charger was the 1970 and even today is considered the top of the heap.
After the 70s model, the car got a bit bigger, longer, and heavier. It also seemed to lose its speed about the ’73-’74 time frame when the standard engine was a 360 V8. Still a cool car but the star was fading very fast.

Then, the Charger started to look like a Duster or Demon and it got worse. At one point before its death, the Charger name was brought back and badged into a real small two door front wheel drive car. It was a last ditch effort not to just save the name but, maybe the company from going belly up. By that point all of us knew the fat lady was warming up in the wings and we wished then she would just get it over with. Yes, it was that bad.
Chrysler at the time, finally pulled the plug on the Charger name plate. But, never say never and the Charger name reappeared again in the 2000’s only this time as a four door Charger.
Everyone cringed again as the Charger was never meant to be a four door car. Then, FCA put a new version of the Hemi under the hood and that helped ease some of the pain. Then, just recently FCA saw an opportunity and offered the Hellcat engine in the four door car. Some still cringed but the big engine helped some cringing go away. Now, we hear rumors of a two door Cuda with a Hellcat engine and hope is that the FCA will offer up a two door monster car again other than the Challenger.

The Dodge Charger is arguably the poster boy of the golden era of muscle cars and still carries on today, showing that the muscle car ethos is still alive and well.

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