1966 DODGE CHARGER BACKGROUND Dodge was caught flat-footed in 1964 when Ford launched the Mustang (the world’s first and original Pony Car) and Pontiac came out with the GTO. By 1965 Dodge dealers were screaming for a product to compete in these burgeoning new markets. Even their own sister division Plymouth had the Barracuda. So the grafted a rakish new fastback greenhouse and rear quarters onto the chassis and front section of Dodge Coronet, creating the Dodge Charger, meant to fill a gap between the Mustang and the larger Thunderbird. It was introduced to the world at the 1966 Rose Bowl on New Years Day, 1966.
1966 DODGE CHARGER IS HIGH ON STYLE
From the firewall and A-pillars forward, the new Charger’s exterior sheetmetal was identical to the Coronet. However, it received its own special fine-toothed front grille with hide-away headlights that sort of looked like the head of an electric shaver. The headlight doors fit well and rotated a full 180-degrees in operation, creating a truly one-piece look when closed, especially important considering the fine pitch of the grille ribs. The greenhouse had large side windows which helped to balance the look of the otherwise rather large and ungainly rear window treatment. The flat fastback has a huge rear window and large sail panel. Out back, the 6-element tail light extended the entire width of the car. Overall, it was a daring design, and one that you either like or you don’t. It’s polarizing, as it was in its day, and so was the price. At $3,100 it was pricier than most of the cars it was designed to compete with.
1966 Dodge Charger INTERIOR
1966 Dodge Charger ENGINES
1966 DODGE CHARGER GETS A HEMI
While all the usual Mopar engines that you’d expect to see in the Coronet were also offered in the Charger. But as it happened, midway through 1966 and months after the Chargers introduction, Chrysler came out with its brand new street version of the 426 Hemi V8. It was conservatively rated at 425hp and turned the Charger into one of the most potent muscle cars of its time.