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Dodge Charger

Published: 21st Apr 2011 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Dodge Charger
Bumble-bee-striped tail signifies mean, meatier RT. Check all chrome for ageing Bumble-bee-striped tail signifies mean, meatier RT. Check all chrome for ageing
Charger is slightly posher than equivalent Mustang – big car to pilot Charger is slightly posher than equivalent Mustang – big car to pilot

Model In Depth...

Trim parts are fairly readily available still albeit pricey Trim parts are fairly readily available still albeit pricey
Muscular V8 is everlasting if cared for with regular oil and filter change. It’s easily tweaked too Muscular V8 is everlasting if cared for with regular oil and filter change. It’s easily tweaked too
Enclosed headlights look super slick and smooth, but wonky working points to poor crash damage. Enclosed headlights look super slick and smooth, but wonky working points to poor crash damage.

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What is a Dodge Charger?

One of the great musclecar models from the famous Pentastar stable. First introduced in 1966 the Charger was ostensibly a coupe version of the Dodge Coronet, the derivative body styling of which is clearly evident. It wasn’t exactly over endowed with the “Wow” factor though sales figures in 1966 reached a most respectable 37,344 but a year later dropped to a lowly 15,788. Available with the base 318ci V8 engine, much more desirable was the 426ci 425bhp “Street Hemi” engine. In 1968 the facelifted second generation Charger was introduced which still comprised of fastback coupe styling, but with a lower stance, a notchback with distinctive flying buttress rear roof line.

A mean aggressive heavyweight boulevard bruiser rather than cruiser it was a huge car and very powerful too, with the 426ci 425bhp Hemi engine option giving the Dodge a 0-60mph time in an electrifying five seconds! The model was in production for three years before another facelift Charger arrived in 1971 which didn’t quite have the same desirability as the second generation cars.


Between 1968-1970 over 50,000 Dodge Chargers were produced with engine options ranging from the base 318ci, 383ci, 440ci through to the 426ci Hemi. One of the most popular models was the R/T which included the powerful 440ci V8 producing 375/395bhp, a rear “Bumblebee” striped tail, heavy duty brakes, Rallye suspension, dual exhaust system and a lot more. Transmission options were either the faithful Torqueflite three-speed automatic or a four-speed manual. The suspension comprises of torsion bars at the front with old fashioned leaf springs and a live axle at the rear, and brakes are drums all round, although front discs were thankfully an option.

A design feature carried over from the first generation Charger was the ‘hideaway’ headlamps which added to the model’s extremely clean front end treatment. The feature film Bullitt made in 1968 will be remembered by most classic car buffs for its amazing car chase through the streets of San Francisco with Lt Frank Bullitt, alias Steve McQueen driving a Ford Mustang, who was being chased by the bad guys – in a Dodge Charger! In the mid-1970’s the Charger’s profile was significantly raised by the bright orange ‘jumper’ known as the General Lee being a major star in the television programme the Dukes of Hazzard. This programme probably did more to publicise the model than any other of the decade.

It’s not until you actually look at the Dodge Charger in the flesh that you realise just how big they are, the overall length is 208inches with the rear wing alone in the region of 6-7ft. The model weighs in at 3575- 3610lbs, with the Hemi engine itself weighing in at a hefty old 765lbs. Everything about the Charger is big and muscular, right down to the fuel filler cap sitting atop the nearside rear wing.

The Dodge Daytona Charger derivative of 1968-1969 with its distinctive aerodynamic droop snoot nosecone and wild rear aerofoil (which needed to be so tall in order to clear the trunk lid when opened) was built for competition purposes by Creative Industries in Detroit. These cars thundered around the American NASCAR circuits at speeds in excess of 200mph and proved an extremely successful racer with Dodge winning 22 Grand Nationals. Just over 500 were built and today they are highly coveted by Mopar enthusiasts and collectors.


These are huge cars to drive with great presence, and while front disc brakes were an option, drum brakers demand advanced anticipation from high speeds. Unlike some other Yank Tanks the ride is quite firm so there’s little wallow when cornering, and even a tired car will be eminently useable. Engines can be tuned to obtain even more power, (very popular for racing), while handling levels can be improved by fitting stiffer suspension components, anti-roll bars, gas shocks, etc. Just try one for size


Prices have climbed rapidly in recent years and will need to shell out around £10,000 to purchase a 1968-1970 Charger in reasonable nick which could benefit from further improvement, and nearer to £15,000 - £18,000 for a top quality car: even more for concours. For very rare Daytona Chargers vendors can almost name their own price but a very rough guide is £50,000! Later Chargers built around 1971- 1974 can be purchased more cheaply with entry level at around £5000, but then they haven’t quite got the kudos of the earlier models which is naturally reflected in the prices.

What To Look For

  • The Charger was a generally well built car, over engineered to some extent on the running gear which is no bad thing. The one area that they do suffer from bodily is at the lower section around the rear window. Water collects along the window rubber and rear decking which eventually leads to rusting, and then ingress into the boot floor. Fortunately replacement boot floors and rear quarter panels are available.
  • The under deck area didn’t receive much in the way of top coat paint at the factory, with many cars going off the production line with not much more than a lick of primer. Watch out too for water ingress under the vinyl roof (if fitted), which is also a common problem, where rust can hide and eat away.
  • Other body rusting problems tend to occur in the areas around the lower rear quarter panels in front and behind the wheel arches. It’s worth giving the front bulkhead a good inspection just in case the heater plenum has allowed water into the foot wells which can lead to rusting. Door skins are made from fairly thick metal and are normally quite well preserved as are the front wings, which is just as well as NOS wings are not easy to source. Nowadays there is a reasonably good supply of parts for the Charger, and indeed some replacement body panels, though in many cases they can work out more expensive than some of the more popular Chevrolet and Ford models, due to a much lower production figure.
  • Try and locate the Fender Tag which is normally found on the inside of the front wing or bulkhead. This will have a series of numbers referring to the original build of the car and all the options when it left the factory with such as paint code, seat trim, engine, rear axle, etc. This will help identify how original the car is.
  • Many Chargers have been used for drag racing and have been modified. An original matching numbers car will normally carry a higher premium than a modified car. It’s worth checking the front chassis rails for any signs of accident damage, though they are quite substantial and rot is not normally a major problem.
  • The Charger’s running gear is pretty robust, big powerful and very strong V8 engines which run for ever, along with the Torqueflite transmissions. But carry out the usual checks just t he same.
  • The interior trim is reasonably hard wearing, though if you do need to replace anything, it’s still mostly available. It would probably better to go for a car that’s not been messed about with too much, originality is preferable, that is unless you plan to use your Charger for drag racing. Ensure that the car is as complete as possible, as sourcing replacement parts could work out more expensive in the long run.


A very much sought after example of Mopar Muscle from the late 1960’s. A large car offering a potent performance and an equally large thirst, expect around 12-15mpg or less is you’ve really got the pedal to the metal. There’s also plenty of room to accomodate four people and a large boot for luggage too. The R/T model or the Hemi are the most desirable, or if you really want to stand out in a crowd and be the envy of all Mopar enthusiasts, go for the Daytona Charger, that’s if you can afford it, and even find one for sale.

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