The early 1960s was a popular time in which automakers were exploring new ideas to bring to the industry. Ideas in the personal luxury and specialty car segments became a popular avenue to explore. Chrysler quickly jumped on this bandwagon by choosing their Dodge Division to enter in to the marketplace with a mid-size B-bodied sports car. This would be a fascinating model between the Ford Mustang and the Ford Thunderbird. This resulted in a Coronet-based Charger that was introduced mid-season of the 1966 model year.
1966 Dodge Charger
Introduced in the middle of 1966, the Charger shared its chassis and front-end sheet-metal with the mid-sized Coronet. Although this model looked like the Coronet as well as AMC’s Rambler Marlin, it was more expensive than both those cars. The base price of the Charger came in at $3,100 while the Rambler was priced at $2,850. The Charger became known by some as “a good-looking Marlin”.
The Hemi was available as an option in the Charger however, it didn’t start out with the performance/muscle car package. The Charger quickly became successful after being introduced as “The Leader of the Dodge Rebellion.” The Charger’s January 1966 debut lead to a half year model of a new street version of the 426 cubic inch Chrysler Hemi engine.
|Engines Available in 1966|
|318 cu in (base model) 2-barrel|
|361 cu in 2-barrel|
|383 cu in 4-barrel|
|426 Street Hemi (only 468 of these were built)|
Muscle Car of the Week
The beautiful black 1966 Charger featured in the below Muscle Car of the Week video is a good example of a stock model Charger. This model was so unique compared to other cars of its time. The body of the car was much bigger than other cars on the market. The full width grille with disappearing headlights is shown in this video along with the matching full width taillight. Although the headlights and taillights make this model unique, the fastback roof-line is what makes it most unique. The tall roof-line was intended to accommodate back seat passengers. Looking in this car you’ll see how hard Dodge worked to make this car comfortable. The full bucket seats were carried to the rear making the back seats just as comfortable as the front. In this car’s era, bucket seats in the front were common however they were not in the back. Charger was the first to carry rear bucket seats making this 1966 model that much more special.
Charger and NASCAR Dodge took the Charger to NASCAR in 1966 hoping the fastback would make their car a winner on the high-banks. Unfortunately, that was not the case. Due to the body generated lift the car was difficult to handle on the faster tracks. Those who drove it described it as “driving on ice”. Of course, Dodge came up with a way to solve this problem. They installed a small lip spoiler on the trunk lid to improve traction at speeds over 150 mph. This then became a dealer-installed option for late-1966 and 1967, making Charger the first U.S. production vehicle to offer a spoiler. The 1966 Charger had several firsts for cars, with that being said, this car is sure to continue on as a collector.