The 1966 Dodge Charger was introduced on New Year’s Day. The 1966 and 1967 Chargers had flat-folding rear seats offering 7 feet of cargo space. The car had full instrumentation including a 6,000 rpm tachometer positioned in front of the driver.
Standard features on the Charger included concealed headlights and turn signals, back up lights, full-length front to back center console, lighting package, front and rear bucket seats, security panel (to cover the trunk contents), lap belts for four people, self-adjusting brakes, front anti roll bar, internal hood release, tachometer, oil pressure gauge, and tinted rear window.
In 1966 Dodge took the Charger to NASCAR with the hope that it would be a winner on the high banked tracks. However, the car had rear end lift when cornering that caused it handling to be slippery on fast tracks. It was determined that air was traveling faster over the top of the car than under it. To solve the problem, Dodge installed a small lip spoiler to the trunk resulting in improved traction at speeds over 150 mph. As specified by NASCAR rules, Dodge made the spoiler a dealer option on the 1966 and 1967 Chargers. The 1966 Dodge Charger was the first U.S. production vehicle to be offered with a spoiler.
In 11 years of racing, the Dodge Charger, ran in close to stock form, won 124 NASCAR races and took three drivers to 5 championships. According to Dodge, Richard Petty won three of his seven titles driving a Dodge Charger.
In 1968 the Charger was restyled and went from a fastback to a semi-fastback. The Charger now had a “Coke bottle” look. It was considered to be one of the best looking muscle cars of the 60s. As a result of the car’s new look, the Charger’s sales increased.
The model lineup included the Charger R/T. It was equipped with a 440 cubic-inch Magnum V8 engine, heavy duty suspension and brakes, dual exhausts, and wide tires. The car had a 3-speed automatic or an optional 4-speed manual transmission.
Wrap around “bumble bee” stripes gave the Charger R/T a sporty appearance. The stripes ran across the rear deck and down the car’s quarter panels.
In 1969 the Charger was mostly unchanged. However, the car gained a center grille divider and recessed taillights. Additionally, the rear taillights were moved below the rear bumper.
The Charger 500, powered by its 426 cubic-inch Hemi V8, was built to NASCAR specifications. This enabled the car to race in the stock car circuit.
The Charger Daytona included a large rear spoiler and aerodynamic nose. The car was built specifically for the Daytona 500 and other stock car races. When equipped with its 440 Hemi 425 hp V8 engine, it is reported that no other car could match it 200 mph top speed.
Of note is that the Daytona included a wind cheating billet shaped front cap rather than the standard grille, hidden front headlights, a front spoiler, flush back lights, and a huge rear deck spoiler. Compared with the Charger 500, the Daytona was about 20 percent more aerodynamicTo satisfy NASCAR rules, Dodge built 505 Charger Daytonas for street use.
In 1970 the Charger received only minor changes. The bumpers completely encircled the grille and the car’s full width taillights. The top model became the Charger R/T with its standard 440 cubic inch V8 engine. A hot option was the 440 cubic inch engine combined with a 6-pack (three two barrel Holly carburetors mounted on top of an Edelbrock intake manifold).
In 1970 a Dodge Charger Daytona made racing history at Talladega Speedway when Buddy Baker become the first driver to run over 200 mph for a lap on a closed course. The speed record held up for a number of years.
Dodge has a long and highly successful racing history that Kurt Busch and his number 22 Dodge Charger continue today. And because of the automaker’s involvement in racing, Dodge has made and continues to build exciting performance cars we can all enjoy.
Visit the slideshow to see the legendary Dodge Charger up close!
Kyle Busch is the author of “Drive the Best for the Price: How to Buy a Used Automobile, Sport-Utility Vehicle, or Minivan and Save Money.” He welcomes your comments or car questions at his auto web site: www.cartown1.com. Follow Kyle on Facebook and Twitter.