The 1966 Dodge Charger
The “Leader of the Dodge Rebellion” was introduced at the 1966 Rose Bowl, and although the Dodge brothers didn’t know it at the time, the 1966 Charger would impact muscle car history forever.
The Charger was built off of the Dodge Coronet chassis, but utilized its own body. This introduction was Dodge’s first fastback, high-speed street racer. The 1966 Charger was the first U.S. production vehicle to boast a spoiler, which was implemented to solve the lift that its body created. David Pearson drove a #6 Cotton Owens-prepared Charger, and won the NASCAR Grand National championship in 1966 (in addition to 14 other first-place finishes).
With an interior that boasted four individual bucket seats, vinyl trim, and electroluminescence to light the instrument panel gauges, the Dodge Charger was sleek from the outside in. The back seats and armrest folded down to provide a cargo space (roughly 4×7 feet) just in case you wanted to take some extra toys on the road.
It was the unveiling of the 426 Hemi that allowed the Charger to leave its mark on muscle car history. Hemi engines had been available since the 1950’s, and the 426 Hemi since 1964. However, 1966 marked the debut of the street Hemi; the first Hemi that average drivers could use. Drivers that year could choose from the base-model 318 cu in (5.2 L) 2-barrel, the 361 cu in (5.9 L) 2-barrel, the 383 cu in (6.3 L) 4-barrel, and the new 426 Street Hemi. Since only 468 Chargers were built with the 426, it is currently the rarest and subsequently most lucrative (by a landslide) of the four engines.
Brief author bio: Bill currently resides in Texas, where he works with Dodge parts that are a little bit newer than a 1966 Charger. His dream is to someday create a hot-rod half (or even an eighth) as impressive as J.F. Launier’s 1964 Buick Riviera.