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AJ's Car of the Day 1966 Dodge Hemi Charger

Car: Dodge Hemi Charger

Year: 1966

What makes it special: The fastback Charger was introduced on January 1, 1966 to viewers of the Rose Bowl, but even though based on the existing Coronet, "style-wise" it was a complete departure from the Dodge's mainstream cars. Dubbed the new "Leader of the Dodge Rebellion," Charger's debut was closely followed by the introduction of a new street version of the 426 cu in Hemi V8 because with the Charger, Dodge had a new model to build a performance image to go along with their engine.

What made it famous: Dodge Charger introduced a fastback roofline and a pot-metal "electric shaver" grille. The grille used fully rotating headlights that when opened or closed made the grille look like one-piece unit. ( Hidden headlights were a feature not seen on a Chrysler product since the 1942 DeSoto.) In the rear of the new Dodge, the fastback design ended over a full-width six-lamp taillight that featured chromed "CHARGER" lettering.

Why I would want one: Although admittedly this is not my absolute favorite of the Dodge Charger series ( that would be the 1969 version), I want it for the sheer fact that it was THE first of the iconic Charger series. The fact that it's also the launchpad for the new street series Hemi V8 also intensifies that want as well.

Fun fact: Dodge took the Charger to NASCAR in 1966 hoping the fastback would make their car a winner on the high-banks. To their surprise, it wound up being difficult to handle on the faster tracks because its body generated lift. Drivers claimed that "it was like driving on ice." To solve this problem, Dodge installed a small lip spoiler on the trunk lid which improved traction at speeds above 150 mph.

( 1966 Dodge Hemi Charger from foxmotorsports.com )

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