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

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

Vukasin Herbez November 7, 2018

  1. 1983 to 1987 Dodge Charger

Although the Charger from the late 70s was slow and threatened to kill the muscle car reputation of the late 60s and early 70s, Dodge felt the name deserved another chance. In those days, the Chrysler Corporation was all about the K-platform front wheel drive cars. So, Dodge introduced the Charger as an option on the compact yet boring Dodge Omni for 1981.

However, the appearance package proved somewhat popular. In fact, it was enough to convince Dodge to try it as a separate model for 1983. And that is how the L-Body Charger was born. Despite the famous name, the 1983 to 1987 Charger was just a sportier version of those Chrysler compact models. With four-cylinder power, front wheel drive and no particular performance, the Charger was just a model to fight the import compacts.

  1. Dodge Shelby Charger

The L-Body Charger was a forgettable car that wasn’t especially popular or fast. But when Carroll Shelby, who was involved with Chrysler in those days, introduced the Shelby Charger, the car finally gained some respect.

Shelby’s recipe was simple: turbocharge the existing 2.2-liter four-cylinder to deliver 175 HP and equip it with a close ratio five-speed manual gearbox. He also wanted to stiffen the suspension and improve the braking. All those changes turned the boring Charger into a Shelby Charger which delivered a vivid performance.

It could even outrun most production muscle cars of the period. They sold the Shelby Charger alongside their regular models in Dodge dealerships. However, Shelby bought the last 1,000 of them and turned them into the Charger GHLS. They were similar to the Shelby Omni GHLS with the same engine and platform.

  1. 2006 to 2010 Dodge Charger SRT8 LX

Although the Charger went away in the late 80s and Chrysler retired the nameplate, the legend of the glorious muscle car model never disappeared. During the 90s with the rise of pickup trucks and the SUV market, Dodge presented several concepts to keep the fire burning. Muscle cars fans were hopeful that Dodge would reincarnate their favorite muscle car. And they did just that in 2005 with a thumping V8 under the hood and rear wheel drive.

However, they put it in a four-door guise, which raised a few eyebrows. The new Charger sedan debuted in 2005 as a true American four-door with a rear wheel drive platform. All-wheel drive (AWD) was optional and it had the 5.7-liter Hemi V8 engine as the top engine choice. The aggressive muscular design reminded buyers of the Charger’s heritage and history.

Almost immediately, it was a fantastic success since it combined modern technology with retro styling and Hemi power in one package. It wasn’t what the muscle car fans asked for, but it was the proper performance car they needed. The engine choices started with the 3.6-liter V6, but buyers could get also get the new 350 HP 5.7-liter Hemi.

But, Dodge didn’t forget the burning muscle car market. So soon after the introduction of the regular model, they released the Charger SRT-8. Under the hood was a 6.1-liter Hemi with 425 HP. It delivered a fantastic performance that connected with Hemi Chargers of the past.

  1. 2014 to Present Dodge Charger Hellcat

Ever since they released the four-door Charger it became a popular model, even with law-enforcement agencies. So in 2011, they introduced the second generation with a fresh design and more options. However, the platform and engine choices remained the same. Dodge kept the SRT model in the lineup and several interesting performance versions, too. But everybody knew the Charger was capable of much more.

So, finally, in 2014, the car community went crazy when Dodge released the Hellcat Charger and Challenger models. After all, they expected such a reaction. The 6.2-liter supercharged V8 with 707 HP is a proper monster of a muscle car. But, Dodge did just that, allowing the public to buy one of the fastest, most powerful muscle car they ever built. Despite being overpowered in every aspect, Dodge Charger Hellcats are surprisingly easy to drive.

Surprisingly, they can be docile at low speeds. When you press the throttle to unleash the fury of those supercharged horses, you’ll feel the brutality of the Hellcat package. The 0 to 60 mph times are in the high three-second range and the car can top 200 mph. This is proof that the Dodge Charger will keep the muscle car segment interesting in the 21st century.

  1. Dodge Charger 500 “Fast and Furious”

The young generation of car enthusiasts got its first taste of the magic of Dodge Charger by seeing it in the cult car movie, Fast and Furious, in 2000. This was the hero car driven by Dominic Toretto, depicted by Vin Diesel, one of the main protagonists throughout the series of films.

The black 1970 Charger 500 was obviously heavily modified with racing slicks, full racing cage and supercharged engine with a blower hood. Despite the movie being full of JDM cars, the black Charger became an even bigger legend of the silver screen.

  1. Dodge Charger Daytona 2006

The new generation of the Charger on a rear wheel drive platform with the famous Hemi engine inspired Dodge to offer several interesting versions. And the best of them was the Daytona, which they sold from 2006 to 2009.

The Daytona package didn’t include an enormous spoiler. But, it did come with special paint and trim details, R/T stickers and interior pieces. Dodge limited the production, though. However, the best part was the 5.7-liter Hemi V8 that delivered 350 HP. That was a slight upgrade over the standard output.

  1. Dodge Charger Pursuit

After decades of using the Chevrolet Impala or Ford Crown Victoria, many law enforcement agencies in America turned to the Dodge Charger in 2006. For over 12 years, it was one of the most popular police cars in America. In fact, Dodge even exported the Charger to several foreign markets. And even though you may see this car daily, it is undeniable this is one of the best police cars in the world.

The specs of the latest models are simply unbelievable. Fleet buyers have the choice of a 3.6-liter V6 engine or the fantastic 5.7-liter Hemi V8. Buyers can order Chargers with rear or all-wheel drive for demanding road conditions. All cars come with special chassis reinforcements, front bull bars and heavy-duty components.

That includes the suspension, braking, cooling and electrical system for running advanced communication equipment and computers. Also, the Charger Pursuit comes with bullet-resistant front door panels, which could save lives of officers on the job.

  1. Dodge Charger Concept 1968

The success of the Charger is what inspired the Chrysler designers to develop the idea of a Dodge performance model. The original Charger had power, performance and countless racing wins, but it was still a big, heavy and not an aerodynamic muscle machine. However, the 1968 Charger III concept was something different.

The Charger III was no longer a muscle car, but a pure two-seater sports machine. It had compact dimensions and a low profile. Also, it was lightweight and had several unusual features. There were no conventional doors, but the whole top of the car opened to allow access to the interior.

The steering column tilted, along with the steering wheel to make entry more comfortable. On the back of the car were massive airbrakes similar to ones on the airplanes that deployed under heavy braking. The whole car was extremely futuristic, and that doomed it from any real production.

  1. Dodge Magnum R/T

Dodge never built Charger station wagon or factory Charger convertible and this model was always a two or four-door car throughout its history. However, if you have an irresistible urge for a station wagon Charger there is a way to enjoy the power of the Hemi engine with the practicality of a long roof body. Simply, look for Dodge Magnum R/T.

Equipped with 6.1-liter V8 Hemi engine pumping out 425 hp and glorious soundtrack through twin tailpipes, the SRT-8 was a really fast and capable long roof. The design is typical Dodge and since the rest of the mechanics is identical, this car can be considered a station wagon Charger.

    1. Dodge Charger Concept 1999

Charger purists were shocked in 1999 when Dodge presented the first four-door Charger R/T concept. Until then, most Mopar muscle cars were strictly two-door models. In fact, nobody even thought of the possibility of a muscle car heart in a sedan.

However, despite the controversy, the 1999 Charger Concept was a highly-successful and inspired Dodge that brought buyers the current Charger. Of course, the original concept came with a 4.7-liter V8 since the modern Hemi was not available yet.

      1. Dodge Charger from “Fast Five”

In the fifth installment of the popular movie series, Fast and Furious, the Dodge Charger was once again the star of a film. But this time, it was not the classic 1970 Charger but the current version. Dodge specially prepared it for the crazy stunts they featured in the movie, Fast Five.

This dynamic movie was filled with excitement and driving scenes. It features numerous black Chargers, which they equipped with bull bars, heavy-duty suspensions, tuned engines and off-road tires. In fact, the mind-blowing action scenes became the standard of the genre, making the Charger an even more popular car.

      1. Dodge Charger GT AWD

A proper muscle car should be V8 powered and rear wheel drive, right? However, the new Dodge Charger GT AWD breaks that mold as a 300 HP sedan with intelligent, all-wheel drive and sublime driving dynamics.

Since the AWD system requires more space underneath the engine and cabin, the Dodge engineers could only install a V6 engine, which is still good for 300 HP. But the handling characteristics and usability puts this muscle sedan on another level. Not only does the Charger AWD lack any domestic competitors, but it is also more than capable of beating many imports, as well.

This is a list of Dodge Charger history. It was and still is the bad boy of the muscle car scene. Which one was your favorite? Hopefully, you’ll be able to find one at a reasonable price and in top-notch condition.

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