AJ's Car of the Day 1969 Dodge Hemi Charger 500

Car: Dodge Hemi Charger 500

Year: 1969

What makes it special: It was built to keep Chrysler at the front of NASCAR superspeedways, the 1969 Charger 500 was the Corporation’s first “Aero Warrior” and the opening shot in the Chrysler-versus-Ford battles throughout 1969 and 1970. It was a more aerodynamic version of the Dodge Charger R/T and featured a grille borrowed from the Dodge Coronet and flush-mounted for better high-speed air penetration, four flush-mounted fixed headlights, and a smoother rear-window treatment in line with the rear-window pillar, eliminating the lift-inducing rear “flying buttresses” of the regular Charger. Charger 500 engine choices included the 426 Street Hemi and 440 Magnum V8's putting out 425 and 375 "advertised" horsepower ratings. It was a one-year-only model.

What made it famous: The Charger 500 was built specifically for NASCAR homologation requirements with production of a minimum of 500 examples required for the design to qualify for racing. Since the Charger 500 was soon replaced by the even more radical Daytona version on the track, estimates place total Charger 500 production at just 392 examples, making the 500 more rare than the Daytona. On the street, the Charger 500 was ferocious. With dual 4-barrel induction, Hemi-powered 500's were capable of quarter-mile ETs in 13.5-second range at 109 mph through the traps,(with more on tap with slicks and some basic tuning.)

Why I would want one: It's a piece of automotive racing and performance history. While admittedly the 1969 Charger R/T is more attractive, this car was built to run fast. And that's exactly what it did. It's a rare beauty and a reminder of the fierce competition between Ford, Mercury and Chrysler to own the Nascar racetracks.

Fun fact: Only 67 Charger 500's were built with the 426 Hemi; 27 with 4-Speed manual transmissions and 40 with Torqueflite automatics.


( 1969 Dodge Hemi Charger 500 photo from barrett-jackson.com )