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Dodge Charger History

The following historical data of the Dodge Charger, manufactured by Dodge, were retrieved from many sources.

First Generation

The first generation of the Dodge Charger was produced in 1966-1967 and was built on the Chrysler B platform. The engine selection was all V8s, and in 1966 Dodge took the Charger into NASCAR in hopes that the fastback would make their car a winner on the high-banks, but the car proved to have rear end lift around corners which made it very slippery on the faster tracks. To cure this problem Dodge installed a small lip spoiler on the trunk lid which improved traction, and made the 1966 Dodge Charger the first US production vehicle to offer a spoiler.

Since the Charger was such a sales success, changes were limited for 1967. A new 440 “Magnum” engine was added, but despite the Chargers’ NASCAR racing success of 1966 sales slipped by half, because the Charger was facing stiff competition from the Trans-Am Series, Mustang, and the all-new Chevrolet Camaro. Dodge decided that a major redesign was in order, rather than a minor face-lift.

Second Generation

Dodge was going to restyle their entire B-body lineup for 1968. What they came up was a double-diamond design that would later be referred to as coke bottle styling. From the side profile the curves around the front fenders and rear quarter panels look almost like a Coke bottle.

In order to further boost the Charger’s muscle car image, a new high-performance package was added, the R/T. This stood for “Road/Track” and would be the high performance badge that would establish Dodge’s performance image. Only the high-performance cars were allowed to use the R/T badge, which came standard with the 440 “Magnum” and the 426 Hemi was optional.

In 1969, not much was changed for the popular Charger, but in 1969 Dodge had its eye on NASCAR and in order to compete it would have to create two of the most rare and desirable of all Chargers: the Charger 500 and the Charger Daytona. The 1969 Dodge Charger is one of the most recognizable cars, because of the popular television series The Dukes of Hazzard.

The 1970 Dodge Charger changed slightly again. This would be the last and rarest year of the 2nd generation Charger. A new engine option made the Charger’s list for the first time, the 440 Six Pack. In the 1970 NASCAR season, the Charger dominated again, but it was time for a change again.

Third Generation

In 1971, the all-new Charger debuted. It was completely restyled with a new split grille and more rounded “fuselage” body style. A special scoop was mounted in the hood, directly above the air cleaner. If the driver wanted to draw clean air directly into the carburetor, he flipped the vacuum switch under the dash and the scoop popped up. 1971 was the last year for the 426 Hemi and the 440 Six-Pack engines.

The 1972 Charger bowed with a new “Rallye” option to replace the former R/T version. The 440 engines were still available, but now had to use the net horsepower rating instead of the gross horsepower rating. All engines featured lowered compression ratios to permit the use of regular leaded or unleaded gasoline rather than leaded premium fuel as in past years due to increasing tighter emissions regulations.

The 1973 Chargers sported new vertically slatted taillights and new grilles. The 318 engine was standard, with the 340, 400, and 440 remaining as options. The SE models had a new roof treatment that had “triple opera window” treatment surrounded by a canopy-style vinyl roof. All other models had a new quarter window treatment. The 1973 Charger had the best sales of the 3rd generation Chargers.

In 1974, the Charger was basically a rerun of the 73 model. The minor changes included all new color choices, a softer grain pattern on interior surfaces, and a slight increase in the size of the rubber bumper tips. The biggest change was the 340 engine option being dropped and the 360 4bbl replaced the 340 as the small block performance engine. By this time the Charger was no longer considered a performance car, and was gradually turned into a personal luxury car.

Fourth Generation

1975 to 1978 was the last generation for the B-body Dodge Charger. The 1975 models were offered with a wide variety of engines from the 318 small block V8 to the 400 big block V8. Because of the extreme squareness of the body style, NASCAR teams were forced to rely on the previous year’s sheetmetal for race-spec cars. In order for Dodge to be represented, NASCAR allowed the 1974 sheetmetal to be used until January 1978, when the new Dodge Magnum was ready for race use.

In 1976, the model range was expanded to four models; base, Charger Sport, Charger SE and the Charger Daytona. The base and Sport models used a different body than the SE and Dayton, and were essentially a rebadging of what had been 1975 Dodge Coronet 2-door models. The Charger Daytona was introduced in hopes or rekindling the performance fire, but it amounted to little more than a tape/stripe package. It did offer either the 360 small block or the 400 big block.

In 1977, the base Charger and Charger Sport were dropped as this body style became part of the newly named B-body Monaco line, and only the Charger SE and Charger Daytona were offered. In 1978, only about 2,800 Chargers were produced, likely to use up leftover stock of 1977 trim parts, after which it was replaced by the similar 1978 Dodge Magnum.

LX Platform

The Dodge Charger LX is a rear-wheel drive four-door automobile introduced in February 2005. The car was created to continue the Dodge Charger line, and replaced the Dodge Intrepid as Dodge’s full-size sedan. It shares the LX platform with the Chrysler 300, the newer third generation Dodge Challenger, and the now-discontinued Dodge Magnum.

The Dodge Charger LX is four different packages and they are SE, SXT, R/T, and the SRT-8. The SE and SXT are equipped with Chrysler’s 3.5L V6, the R/T version uses the 5.7L Hemi V8, and the SRT-8 model comes with the 6.1L Hemi V8.

The Charger Daytona R/T features black “Hemi” decals on the hood and rear fender and retro high impact colors. The Charger SRT-8 features upgraded Brembo brakes, and interior and exterior updates. The 425 net horsepower of the modern 6.1L Hemi makes it even more powerful than the legendary Hemi engines of the muscle car era.

In 2011, Dodge plans to launch the new Charger undergoing both exterior and interior changes. It will feature a slightly redesigned fascia and hood section, modified taillighs, and a new dashboard.

Sources: Wikipedia - Dodge Charger, Dodge.

Dodge Charger Timeline

1966: First Production
1968: Body Change
1970: Body Change
1971: 426 Hemi
1975: 400 Big Block
1976: 4 Models Offered
2006: LX Platform Release