Dodge Charger History: The Bad Boy of the Muscle Car Scene

By vukasin

One of the biggest legends of the muscle car segment is the mighty and famous Dodge Charger. In the last half of the century, the Charger has become one of the most popular nameplates and a symbol of American performance. With numerous appearances in popular movies, TV series and music videos, the Charger is a world-renowned muscle car. In fact, it is almost as popular as the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro.

However, the history of the Charger has been interesting and dynamic. This model started its life as a proper muscle coupe, but in the 70s, they turned it into a personal luxury car. But, it didn’t end there. In the 80s, the Charger returned as a compact front wheel drive model. And in 2006, it emerged again, and this time, as a four-door sedan.

That’s quite a ride for a car that Chrysler conceived to fight other muscle cars in the early days of this segment. Over the years, the Dodge Charger has proven itself on all the major drag strips and NASCAR super speedways. But most of all, it has proven its worth on the back streets in the hands of keen muscle car enthusiasts and numerous street racers.

  1. 1966 Dodge Charger

The Charger name first appeared in a 1964 show car as a re-bodied Dodge Polara with a roadster look and a powerful 426 Wedge engine. However, the name gained some attention. With the rising muscle car popularity, the Pontiac GTO was grabbing all the headlines. So, Dodge knew they needed a new, exciting model to attract customers looking for exciting, sporty models.

So, in 1966, they presented the new Dodge Charger as a mid-year introduction. And it was the newest model in the muscle car class. They based it on the Chrysler B-Body platform, so it shared much the of its mechanics and chassis components with other less interesting Dodge models like the Coronet. However, it came with fresh, new sheet metal and a cool-looking fastback roofline.

The design of the 1966 Charger included hideaway headlights and a big chrome grille, which completed the menacing and aggressive looks. The interior was also modern with a cool looking dashboard and four bucket seats. Also, the rear seats could fold down to create lots of trunk space.

Under the hood, Dodge offered various engines, starting with a modest 318 V8 unit. The step up was the 383, which produced up to 325 HP. However, the most powerful option was the mighty 426 Hemi. This was the first year for the street 426 Hemi, and one of the models to receive this legendary powerplant was the Charger. It produced 425 HP, but only ended up in just under 500 cars in 1966.