6. Dodge Charger 500
Most muscle car fans know the Dodge Charger lineup well, including the wild Charger Daytona from 1969. But the Daytona’s predecessor, the Charger 500 was far less known and not as successful. In the late 60’s, Dodge was desperate to race at NASCAR, and the Charger was their perfect candidate. Since NASCAR cars already approached high speeds of almost 200 mph on newly constructed superspeedway tracks, aerodynamics played a key role in the car’s performance results.
The standard Charger with the deep grille and concave rear glass wasn’t aerodynamic. Despite a powerful engine and experienced drivers, it couldn’t achieve the speeds required to win. So, Dodge decided to introduce a limited-edition Charger 500. They named it the 500 because they produced it in that many copies. They gave it a flushed grille, fixed headlights and regular rear glass to improve the aerodynamics of the car.
The 500 was better but not quite as good, so Dodge decided to present the Daytona. They offered it with two engines, a standard 440 and an optional 426 Hemi. Since the Daytona was much more successful and interesting, most people soon forgot the Charger 500, except for hardcore Mopar muscle fans.
7. Dodge Magnum
The model name, “Magnum,” may sound familiar to you since Dodge used it in a successful line of station wagons. Although they produced it between 2005 and 2008, its production goes back to 1978. The original Dodge Magnum was a luxury muscle car coupe they produced for two years, 1978 and 1979. Back in the late 70’s, the American performance market was practically dead.
The insurance companies, as well as strict environmental and safety laws killed the muscle car culture. This meant any new cars had embarrassingly low power figures. The muscle car market wasn’t extinct. However, there weren’t any cars consumers could buy with performance numbers like in the late 60s.
As a prominent muscle car company, Dodge wanted to introduce a model with more power. However, they wanted to offer it in a luxury package to appeal to a wider audience. This is how they came up with the Dodge Magnum. It was a cool-looking coupe with all the right ingredients. They included rear-wheel drive, a long hood, a short deck and a thumping V8 in the front.
The biggest engine that consumers could order was a 5.9-liter V8 with 195 HP. That is diminutive by today`s standards, but back in 1979, this guaranteed respect. Unfortunately, high prices affected sales, so they discontinued the Dodge Magnum for the 1980 model year.
8. Dodge St. Regis
Dodge produced the St. Regis from 1979 to 1981. It was a luxury full-size sedan they built on a rear-wheel drive platform. They powered it with a V8 engine. It was an elegant offering with a distinctive front end, a two-tone body and chrome trim. The St. Regis was a continuation of the luxurious Monaco models from years before it. It was also Dodge’s attempt to enter a market Buick and Oldsmobile dominated.
The first-year sales were respectable, so it looked like Dodge fans received this model well. However, the next two years were disappointing, so after 1981, Dodge discontinued the St. Regis. The Dodge St. Regis was a good car in every way, but it wasn’t the right car for the times. Unfortunately, it featured outdated technology and a classic appearance, but car fans wanted more modern, fuel-efficient models.
9. Dodge 400
Chrysler had a near-death experience in the late 70’s and early 80’s, but made a miraculous recovery. In fact, they have redesigned all their model lineups according to current trends in the car industry. That meant switching to front-wheel drive platforms, smaller, four-cylinder engines and downsizing their offerings. The success of the compact Dodge Omni showed the way.
For the 1981 model year, Dodge presented the 400. It came in a two-door coupe or four-door sedan, and for the first time after 1976, a convertible. The 400 convertible was the first domestically-produced convertible after Cadillac discontinued the 1976 Eldorado convertible.
It was an upscale compact model featuring two four-cylinder engines, a 2.2 liter and 2.6 liter that Mitsubishi produced in partnership with Chrysler. Even though the Dodge 400 was the right car for the time, sales were disappointing. The model lasted just two years and in 1984, they merged it with the Dodge 600 series.
10. Dodge Rampage
Dodge was always a strong SUV and pickup truck brand in the Mopar world. Despite having a successful line of trucks, they always explored possibilities for introducing new models. One of those experiments, although not especially successful, was the 1982 to 1984 Dodge Rampage. Everything started when Subaru introduced a model called the BRAT. It was a small, but fun pickup with four-wheel drive.
At that time, the Dodge passenger car lineup had similar platforms they could transform into small, lifestyle trucks. This meant they didn’t need to make a big investment into new tooling and production. Plymouth had its version of a little truck called the Scamp with the same design and technology. Despite the good idea behind the project, the two models were a failure because they sold in relatively low numbers until Dodge discontinued them.
The reasons were simple. The front-wheel drive passenger car platform was not tough enough for any serious tasks. The diminutive 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine with 96 HP was not powerful enough to tow. This clearly marked the Rampage and the Scamp as fun vehicles or beach buggies, but distanced them from serious truck buyers. In the end, 41,000 found new homes and today people have scrapped or forgotten them.
11. Dodge Dynasty
The late 80’s Dodge Dynasty is one of the most forgotten car, and with reason. It was nothing special with its front-wheel-drive platform and compact dimensions. It also had boxy styling, but came with three engine choices. Under the hood, buyers could get a 2.5-liter, a 3.0-liter V6 by Mitsubishi, or a 3.3-liter V6 engine.
The Dynasty was a mid-size model to replace the Dodge 600 series, but it didn’t offer much to customers. Dodge introduced it in 1988 and discontinued it in 1993. The Dynasty appeared at a strange time in Dodge’s history. It was the end of the 80’s, so Dodge was getting ready to introduce new models for the upcoming decade.
The Dynasty was an economy car with some luxury details, but it failed to hit the target. In the end, they sold most Dynasties to rental companies or fleet car services. For this reason, the Dynasty is a rare sight today mostly forgotten by everybody.
12. Dodge Raider
Dodge was always big in the SUV and truck market, offering various models over the years. The Ramcharger SUVs and Ram trucks were popular, well-received cars. That is why it is strange that the company decided to clone the Mitsubishi Pajero as the Dodge Raider in 1987.
They produced the Dodge Raider in Japan and imported it to America as a Dodge. The only real difference between the Raider and the Pajero are the badges. It was also available in a shorter, three-door version with a 3.0 V6 engine. The Dodge Raider handled and drove like the Pajero, but sales weren’t good. So, in 1989, they discontinued the model and not many people remember it.
13. Dodge Spirit R/T
The Spirit was a compact, front-wheel drive model Dodge introduced in 1989. In its base form, it was popular with consumers since it had a modern design. It was also of good quality and had up-to-date features at an affordable price. However, the R/T version was far more interesting. It is a shame most people have forgotten about it, except for the most dedicated Dodge fans.
Since the performance and power output of the base Spirit was nothing to write home about, Dodge decided to introduce a hot rod version. They called it the R/T to resurrect the famous moniker they used in the muscle car era.
The base 2.2-liter four-cylinder motor only produced 90 HP, so they gave it a turbo upgrade. After that, it produced an impressive 224 HP and 218 lb-ft of torque. For the 1991 model year, this was hefty power level from an economy car. This newfound power raised performance to a whole new level. In fact, the Spirit R/T could accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in less than six seconds, which made it enter Corvette territory in 1991.
At over $17,000 it was expensive, but it offered fantastic driving dynamics and sublime performance for an economy sedan. Unfortunately, the market didn’t understand this car, so Dodge made less than 1,500 in the two years the Spirit R/T was available. Today, most people have forgotten those hot little cars. But if you find one for sale, you may want to buy it. It is an interesting cool piece of Dodge performance history.
14. Dodge Ram 1500 SRT Night Runner
Most people know about the over-the-top Ram SRT-10. It is a truck that features the Viper V10 engine that delivers 503 HP. It can go to 60 mph in just five seconds. Even though Dodge introduced it in 2004, it is still one of the most famous Dodge products ever. However, did you know they produced a Night Runner version?
The Night Runner was a special, limited version of the SRT-10 truck. Dodge only produced 400 of them. The differences between the regular SRT-10 and the Night Runner were in appearance. The Night Runner featured a blackout paint job and black 22-inch wheels. It also came with unique Night Runner badges, a black center stack and a center console bezel overlay.
Interestingly, all Night Runners had a plaque on the dash with their serial number. The Night Runner option was available in 2006, but only as the production of the SRT-10 came to an end. This is why not all dealers were aware it was available. Today, the Night Runner is quite unknown to the public even though it was a part of the Ram SRT-10 model they publicized highly.
Dodge produced many famous and not-so-famous cars and trucks. For car enthusiasts, the rare ones on this list are highly-coveted, yet hard to find. So, if you can get your hands on one of these beauties, consider yourself lucky.