When I think of the Dodge Charger, I think, raw, brutal American grit, masses amounts of power to the wheels, drag strips, and even wheelies. Here I will discuss the history of the Dodge Charger all the way from 1966 to 2018.
1st Gen Dodge Charger (1966-1967)
The first Dodge Charger was introduced in 1966. This was where the icon began its Journey. It came in only one variant which was the 2 door fastback design but with 4 seats. However, they weren’t just normal typical American Couch like interior. Dodge fitted 4 individual bucket seats, although these ones loom rather comfortable for bucket seats. I guess Dodge thought they would need these seats to keep the passengers in place in that huge 5.2L V8 powered rocket ship of the 60s. Larger engines were available. The only problem was, at first the Charger didn’t take off (sales wise), not until the second generation anyways.
2nd Gen Dodge Charger (1968-1970)
The slow sales of the first one really didn’t slow Dodge down, and only a year later they were selling this one. This is in my opinion the most iconic and sexiest looking Charger of all time. People loved this one so much that it features in various Hollywood productions, such as Bullitt, General Lee and The Dukes of Hazzard (these were way before my time but it’s nice to appreciate its popularity). The Gen 2 featured mostly exterior changes, including the new grille, rounded tail lights, and the iconic hidden headlights. This car proved so successful that they used the same powertrain from this model in the 3rd generation.
I can’t write this article and not mention the Dodge Charger Daytona which the second generation was based on. This car competed successfully in NASCAR and is still by far one of the most memorable muscle cars ever to be made. It’s huge rear wing is what makes it so iconic. Sadly the Daytona sort of died out due to American wanting more economical cars, but if you have one of these hanging around they can be worth around $900,000 these days… Just something to consider.
3rd Gen Dodge Charger (1971-1974)
From here on the Dodge Charger started to go downhill. They had peaked at the Daytona and now America had more rules and regulations on safety and the environment etc. This one was available with different exterior add-ons such as a split grille, semi fastback rear window, and a ducktail spoiler. The 73 and 74 Chargers (late 3rd gen) had a few minor changes such as minor grille and headlight changes. These sold in huge quantities, this was due to the elimination of the Dodge Coronet which was arguably a better Charger.
4th Gen Dodge Charger (1975-1978)
This generation of the Dodge Charger, was their attempt at bringing the Charger into the luxury Sedan market. As you can tell by the new design and classy looking chrome parts. If you didn’t like this one, Dodge made another car at the same time called the Magnum. Producing both these cars at the same time meant that Dodge were widely accepted in the luxury car market and this was pretty much the end of the Charger in terms of it’s raw quintessentially American essence.
5th Gen Dodge Charger (1981-1987)
So, as you can see… Dodge seem to have confused the Charger with a plain looking, unprepossessing frog. They reintroduced the Charger as a subcompact hatchback coupe with FWD. This is the exact opposite of everything the original one was. It came with a 2.2L engine which produced about 148 bhp. What a step down from the rumbling 5.2L V8 it’s ancestors had. They even had the nerve of releasing a ‘Shelby Edition’ of this.
6th Gen Dodge Charger (2006-2010)
I’m embarrassed to say that this is the Dodge Charger I grew up with. Seeing these on the road wasn’t a pleasant surprise by any means. It came in many variations including, AWD, V6, V8, performance models which came with a 6.2L Hemi engine which is a bit spicier. But as you can see, Dodge were focussing more on catering for families than the performance petrolhead at this stage. It’s sad to see such an iconic muscle car come to that but it did.
7th Gen Dodge Charger (2011- Present)
As this is 7 years of production, and this is a brief history, I will not include them all but basically Dodge just did facelifts in this time until they came out with this design. This is when Dodge realised they should bring out a more muscle car focussed Charger. I still don’t like it as much as the older ones but it’s a start at least for their future. But nowadays, if anyone buys a new Charger over a Challenger Hellcat or even a Demon (if you’re a mental, hardcore drag strip maniac) I am baffled. The Challenger is the more sought after Muscle car these days.