AJ’s Car of the Day: 1966 Dodge Charger

AJ’s Car of the Day: 1966 Dodge Charger

Car: Dodge Charger

Year: 1966

What makes it special: The Charger was a mid-size model produced by Dodge from 1966 to 1978, and was based on the Chrysler B platform. The Charger made its debut in mid-1966. Sharing its chassis and front-end sheet-metal with the mid-sized Coronet, the Charger still looked a lot like a Coronet or AMC’s conceptually similar Rambler Marlin. The Charger’s interior was different from all other cars with its pseudo-bucket back seats folded down to interior space accessible via the rear hatch. The Charger didn’t begin with the performance/ muscle car image, though you could get a Hemi with it. The Charger evolved into possibly the top Chrysler-made muscle car.

What made it famous: Charger introduced a fastback roofline and pot-metal “electric shaver” grille, complete with fully rotating headlights, a feature not seen on a Chrysler product since the 1942 DeSoto. In the rear the fastback design ended over a full-width six-lamp taillight with chromed “CHARGER” lettering. Inside, the standard Charger featured a simulated wood-grain steering wheel, 4 individual bucket seats with a full length console from front to rear. The rear seats and rear center armrest pad also folded forward while the trunk divider dropped back, which allowed for generous cargo room. Engine selections consisted of only V8’s. 1966 transmissions included a 3-speed steering-column mounted manual with the base engine, a console mounted 4-speed manual, or 3-speed automatic. In 1966, four engines were offered: the base-model 318 cu in 2-barrel, the 361 cu in 2-barrel, the 383 cu in 4-barrel, and the new 426 Street Hemi.

Why I would want one: It’s one of the most innovative styled cars of the 1960’s.

Fun fact: In 1966, Dodge took the Charger into NASCAR in hopes that the fastback would make their car a winner on the high-banks. However the car proved difficult to handle on the faster tracks because its body generated lift. Drivers would later claim that “it was like driving on ice.” To solve this problem Dodge installed a small lip spoiler on the trunk lid that improved traction at speeds above 150 mph. This was made a dealer-installed option in late-1966 and in 1967 because of NASCAR rules, making the ’66 Charger the first U.S. production vehicle to offer a spoiler.
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