Home Cars Burning Rubber: Dodge Charger Hemis That Tore Up The Tracks

Burning Rubber: Dodge Charger Hemis That Tore Up The Tracks

Cameron Eittreim July 19, 2023

The Dodge Charger is one of the most well-known muscle car nameplates in the world. The current generation of the Charger has carried Dodge and Chrysler through some rough periods including the 2008 recession. One major aspect that made this nameplate so iconic is the Hemi engine under the hood. The Hemi was one of the most historic Chrysler engines in existence, rivaling anything that GM or Ford was pushing at the time. Much like GM and its LS series engines, the Hemi has been a staple of quality and performance for decades.

The Charger is more than just an average car. It’s one that consumers have resonated with for decades. With its bold-looking exterior and groundbreaking performance, the Charger was and is a muscle car legend. The original Charger model was designed to compete with the best that GM and Ford had to offer, and it also had success on the racing circuits. So we decided to showcase the Hemi-based models that tore up the race track from past to present. Buckle up.

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1966 Dodge Charger

The first generation of the Charger brought Dodge into the muscle car segment with a bang. Boasting a Hemi V8 engine, the original Charger was a unique piece of sheet metal to say the least. Its bold styling was the first thing that attracted people’s attention, and its massive amount of horsepower only added to it. The first generation had a 425 hp V8 at 5,000 rpm and 490 lb.-ft of torque (via Hemmings).

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From the aggressive belt line to the exhilarating performance, the Charger was exactly what the doctor ordered. The car rivaled the best that Chrysler and GM were peddling at the time. The Street Hemi was one of the best engines that MOPAR ever designed and put into a muscle car. The Charger set the stage for the nameplate for years to come and also helped usher in the muscle car era.

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1968 Dodge Charger R/T 500

So the Charger was a very popular car, but there was a problem. Dodge wanted to compete at a higher level on the NASCAR circuit and the existing Charger models just weren’t cutting it. The redesigned 1968 model added a body that was better suited for racing. It was much sleeker and more aerodynamic. The exterior detentions of the Charger were also a lot smaller, which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing (via All Par).

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Like other Chryslers from this era, the Charger R/T had much better luck on the NASCAR circuit. The Hemi was one of the most versatile engines on the road when it came to racing performance. The beautiful styling only added to the popularity of the car and buyers were lining up to get one. The R/T nameplate became synonymous with Dodge and performance, which is why the Charger R/T is still very popular today.

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1969 Dodge Charger Hemi Daytona

The Dodge Charger Hemi Daytona was another popular design that came out during the Charger’s initial run. If the styling looks familiar that’s because it shared a lot of sheet metal with the Plymouth Superbird. Both cars were extremely successful on the NASCAR circuit and part of the reason for that was the aerodynamic styling. The car had an extremely aerodynamic design that helped it coast through the race (via Supercars).

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But it wasn’t just the aerodynamic nose of the car that helped it to coast through races. The Hemi that was under the hood of the Charger Daytona was one of the best yet. The design of the engine was envied by the automotive world and it helped the car to be quite popular. When it comes to iconic Charger models, few can rival the Hemi Daytona.

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1970 Dodge Charger R/T SE

By the time the 1970s rolled around, the Charger was still a very popular model and the R/T stood out from the crowd. The engine power had been increased at this point, although it was on the verge of the fuel crisis of the 1970s. The Charger R/T had a unique look to it and the styling was quintessential ’70s. Its 425HP output was a game changer when it came to the awe-inspiring performance of the car (via Autoweek).

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By this point in time, the Charger was competing with the likes of the GTO and the Chevelle. The car had to perform to win at the race track and did just that. Enthusiasts were quite happy with the performance that the Charger was pumping out at the time and it became one of the most iconic models. To this day, the 1970 Charger is still one of the most popular models that ever rolled off of the assembly line.

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1971 Dodge Charger Super Bee

By 1971, the Charger was still large and in charge, although the styling had changed a little bit. Muscle cars were slowly evolving and the Charger evolved alongside the rest of the pack. The performance was still there, though, as there was a powerful Hemi engine buried under the hood of the car. The handling was also vastly improved over the previous generations of the car even though it was still large (via Hemmings).

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The Charger had a lot to offer and its improved handling sold more buyers on it. The car had a lot of benefits and it had the legendary nameplate behind it. The rest of the 1970s weren’t too friendly on muscle cars but this Charger model was one of the last good ones. It packed a punch on the track and it had a lot of improvements over the outgoing models.

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1972 Dodge Charger Rallye

By 1972, the Charger was still a popular car but the automotive industry was changing. The styling was a lot different as well. In terms of exterior styling, the Charger Rallye wasn’t the best-looking car on the road the styling was downright awful. But the Hemi engine that was under the hood more than made up for the hideous looks. This particular version of the Charger was designed for handling and off-the-line performance (via Hemmings).

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It did a great job of offering performance and the historic Charger name all in one package. The car was much better positioned than a lot of other muscle cars at the time. But there was no denying that this was a ’70s-style muscle car all of the styling is very reminiscent of that decade. Nevertheless, the Charger Rallye was one of the most iconic and rarest charger models to hit the pavement.

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2006 Dodge Charger Daytona R/T

The 2000s were a resurgence for Dodge of sorts because the decade marked the return of the Charger nameplate. This time the Charger was a sedan but it still had all the attitude and the Hemi V8 engine. The Daytona R/T was a special edition model that harkened back to the muscle car heritage of the model. It packed everything that you’d expect such as the bold Hemi decals and the unique paint job (via Supercars.net).

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There was no denying what this car was or what it offered, it was every bit the unique muscle car that it was previously. The Charger reinvigorated the Dodge brand and the Daytona was a special edition that people loved. The car had attitude and the Hemi was modern and more powerful than ever before. The car was a much better option in every way and offered a whole lot of value for the price.

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2008 Dodge Charger SRT-8 Super Bee

In 2008, Dodge broke all the rules again with the return of the Super Bee. The 2008 Dodge Charger SRT-8 Super Bee had the original badging and decals of the first model. The performance of the Hemi V8 was some of the best that had come out of the modern Charger line, and the paint job was beautiful. A set of unique one-of-a-kind rims also accompanied the car to make sure that other drivers knew what it was (via GR Auto Gallery).

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The Super Bee turned out to be one of the most popular Charger models of the last decade. Even on the used market this car still fetches a pretty penny and the amount of aftermarket upgrades for it is almost endless. For a modern muscle car, this was the Charger that everyone wanted to drive.

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2020 Charger Widebody Daytona Hellcat 50th Anniversary Edition

If there was one bright spot during the 2020 pandemic it was the special edition Charger models, most specifically the Widebody Daytona Hellcat. For a short period, this was one of the fastest production cars on the market, and the styling was undeniable. It was everything that a true performance enthusiast was craving (via MOPAR Insiders).

Photo Credit: Edmunds

The wide body sold better than expected and just went to show that the world still wanted a muscle car. The staying and the performance of it was far above anything that anyone expected. Even for a sedan, this was one of the boldest production vehicles on the market. The Charger name goes on proudly with recent models like this one tearing up the racetracks and the pavement.

Photo Credit: Dodge

2022 Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody Jailbreak

What could very well be one of the last Hemi-powered Charger models ever, the 2022 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody Jailbreak broke the mold. The design of the car was unlike anything else that has hit the market and its horsepower rating was almost unfathomable. But that’s the least of the car’s notable features, as the wide body design of the car was beautiful and functional (via Edmunds).

Photo Credit: Edmunds

The Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody Jailbreak holds the crown as one of the most impressive Charger models to date. Its beautiful style and one-of-a-kind performance cemented it in the history books. Time will tell if muscle cars will ever adapt from being gasoline powered into the world of EVs. But this was one final hurrah that any Charger enthusiast should applaud.

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