Dodge Charger: Through the Years

23 Sep

It all started in 1965. When Dodge was in need of a car that appealed to the masses, it developed a fastback version of its Coronet midsize car known as the Charger.

First Generation: 1966 – 1967

1966 Dodge Charger

The first generation Charger appeared in the fall of 1965 as the 1966 Charger. Similar to the Coronet in terms of style, the Charger featured a full-width convex grill with unique hidden headlights. The 1996 Dodge Charger’s body was aerodynamically stable and on the back highlighted the Charger name in chrome letters.

While not an instant hit, the Charger did establish a unique presence in the market known as a premium muscle machine. The ’67 Charger was similar to the ’66 model with the exception that new chrome was added to the sides and all interior trim was upgraded to Coronet 500 levels.

Second Generation: 1968 – 1970

Having struggled in its first generation, the Charger became what it may be best known for today during the second generation – General Lee in the television series, “The Dukes of Hazzard.”

The 1968 Charger model proved to be a muscle car through its muscular fenders, square-cut roof and narrow backend. The ’68 Dodge Charger stretched 208 inches overall, while most other dimensions remained the same as the ’67.  More than 96,000 ’68 Chargers were sold, a hit for Dodge.

While considered the most attractive model throughout the generations, the ’69 Charger was also considered an aerodynamic disaster. The 1969 and 1970 models were geared towards one thing: stock racing.

During these two years, the Charger Daytona and Charger 500 were released. Short-lived, the Daytona was gone from the ’70 lineup, while the 500 continued. More than 89,000 Chargers were built during 1969, while 49,800 were made during 1970. This generation was the last of the classic Charger body style.

Third Generation: 1971 – 1974

Entering into the third generation, the Dodge Charger went through some extensive changes compared to the last two generations, especially in order to meet with emissions and safety regulations.

According to Edmunds.com, the 1971 Charger was “designed around a more exaggerated Coke-bottle shape.” The ’71 model’s front grille was split into two halves, with each half surrounded by chrome or body-color bumper.

By the third generation, there were six different Charger model varieties including the hard-top and coupe Chargers, the Charger 500, Charger 500 SE, Charger R/T and the Charger Super Bee.

In 1972 with significant changes to omissions and inside revisions, the Charger line went from six models to three – the base Charger Coupe, SE hardtop and the new Rally hardtop. The Charger base hardtop, R/T, Super Bee and 500 were all dropped.

Overall Charger sales remained healthy in 1972 and throughout 1973, but in 1974 sales significantly dropped. Dodge knew what it needed to do, change.

Fourth Generation: 1975 – 1977

Making its way into the fourth generation, the Charger model resembled that of its sister brands, the Chrysler Cordoba. The latest Charger featured a slightly different grille and was over 218 inches long overall – a foot longer than the ’71 model.

In 1975 the Charger was only available in SE and sold less than 32,000 models. Powering through 1976 and 1977 with only minor changes to the body and style, the Charger line of cars once again took a hit.

By 1978, the fourth-generation model was no longer on the road, leaving only the first through third generations to carry on the Charger name.

Fifth Generation: 1982 – 1987

After a short hiatus, the fifth generation Charger was introduced in 1982. Learning from the fourth generation, the next generation featured 2.2-liter engine with 84 hp, providing a substantial increase in overall engine performance.

The fifth generation model, known as the Omni 024, sold a mere 14,420 Chargers. In 1983, all front-drive small hatchbacks, including 1.7 and 2.2-liter engines, were now considered Chargers.

A year later, in 1984, the Charger went through another slight style change, with dual quad headlamps, a blunter style, including a rear spoiler that meshed with most other Dodge line of vehicles.

The Dodge Charger, known more for auto racing by auto enthusiasts, could not compete against other small-to-midsize vehicles, thus suffering a major blow in sales in 1987. This was the last year of production until 2006.

Sixth Generation: 2006 to Present

2013 DodgeCharger

After 19 years, Dodge re-introduced the Charger in 2006. To cater to those who liked the four-door muscle car, as well as those who were more adept to the two-door couple, the new Charger was considered the best in terms of balance, performance, handling and passenger comfort, as noted by Edmunds.com.

In 2006, there were two trim levels, SE and R/T. The base SE featured 250 hp, 3.5-liter V6 engine, 17-inch wheels, air-conditioning, a CD player, full power accessories and cruise control. The performance-themed RT featured a 5.7-liter Hemi V8 engine with 340 hp, dual exhaust, leather interior, 18-inch wheels and a tire pressure monitor.

The 2008 model included a cabin upgrade, with a restyled dash and console. Outside, the ’08 model displayed xenon headlights and new wheels. In 2009, the Charger was up to 368 hp and better fuel-efficiency. The 2013 Charger featured a 370b hp with available all-wheel-drive and 31 miles per gallon.

Today the Dodge Charger includes several model and trim versions of a rear-wheel drive four-door sedan.

Although the Dodge Charger went through its share of ups and downs, it has prevailed as one of the top-rated class-leading sedans.

If you’re interested in a Dodge Charger, stop by Dodgeland of Columbia. Dodgeland offers one of the biggest inventories of new Dodge vehicles, including the Dodge Charger for sale. For your next new or used Dodge, visit Dodgeland of Columbia.

Sources:

http://www.edmunds.com/dodge/charger/history.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dodge_Charger

Image Sources:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/that_chrysler_guy/8603123368/

http://www.dodge.com/en/2013/charger/gallery/

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