Dodge Charger First Generation
|1966 to 1967|
|Assembly||United States: Detroit, Michigan (1966) Hamtramck, Michigan (1967)|
|Body and chassis|
|Related||Dodge Coronet Plymouth Belvedere Plymouth Satellite Plymouth GTX|
|Engine||318 cu in (5.2 L) 2bbl A V8 (1966) 318 cu in (5.2 L) 2bbl LA V8 (1967) 361 cu in (5.9 L) 2bbl B V8 (1966) 383 cu in (6.3 L) 2bbl B V8 (1967) 383 cu in (6.3 L) 4bbl B V8 426 cu in (7.0 L) 2×4bbl Hemi RB V8 440 cu in (7.2 L) 4bbl RB V8 (1967)|
|Transmission||A230 3-speed manual A833 4-speed manual TorqueFlite 3-speed automatic|
|Wheelbase||117.0 in (2,970 mm)|
|Length||203.6 in (5,170 mm)|
|Width||75.8 in (1,930 mm)|
On January 1, 1966, viewers of the Rose Bowl were first introduced to the new "Leader of the Dodge Rebellion", the 1966 Charger. The Charger's debut also followed by a half model year the introduction of a new street version of the 426 cu in (7.0 L) Chrysler Hemi engine. With the Charger, Dodge had a new model to build a performance image to go along with this engine.
The 1966 and 1967 Dodge Chargers were all fastback vehicles. They shared a chassis and front-end sheet-metal with their mid-sized Dodge Coronet brethren. These first two years of the Dodge Charger are also the only two models which displayed the Fratzog Emblem on the grill as well as the trunk hatch.
Designed by Carl "CAM" Cameron, the Dodge Charger introduced a fastback roofline and a pot-metal "electric shaver" grille. The grille used fully rotating headlights (180 degree) that when opened or closed made the grille look like one-piece unit. Hidden headlamps were a feature not seen on a Chrysler product since the 1942 DeSoto. In the rear of the new Dodge, the fastback design ended over a full-width six-lamp taillight that featured chromed "CHARGER" lettering.
Inside, the standard Charger featured a simulated wood-grain steering wheel, four individual bucket seats with a full length console from front to rear. The rear seats and rear center armrest pad also folded forward while the trunk divider dropped back, which allowed for generous cargo room.Numerous interior features were exclusive to the Charger including door panels, courtesy lights, as well as premium trim and vinyl upholstery. The instrument panel did not use regular bulbs to light the gauges, but rather electroluminescence lit the four chrome-ringed circular dash pods, needles, radio, shifter-position indicator in the console, as well as clock and Air Conditioning controls if equipped. The dash housed a 0 to 6000 rpm tachometer, a 0 to 150 mph (240 km/h) speedometer, as well as alternator, fuel, and temperature gauges as standard equipment.
Engine selections consisted of only V8s, though a straight-six engine engine became standard by 1968. 1966 transmissions included a three-speed steering-column mounted manual with only the base engine, a console mounted four-speed manual or three-speed automatic. In 1966, four engines were offered: 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. Only 468 Chargers were built with the 426.
Total production in 1966 came to 37,344 units for the mid-model year introduction.
In 1966 Dodge took the Charger into NASCAR in hopes that the fastback would make their car a winner on the high-banks. But the car proved slippery on the faster tracks because its body generated lift. Drivers would later claim that "it was like driving on ice." In order to solve this problem Dodge installed a small lip spoiler on the trunk lid which improved traction at speeds above 150 mph (240 km/h). They also had to make it a dealer-installed option in late 1966 and 1967 because of NASCAR rules (with small quarter panel extensions in 1967). The 1966 Charger was the first U.S. production vehicle to offer a spoiler. David Pearson, driving a #6 Cotten Owens-prepared Charger, went on to win the NASCAR Grand National championship in 1966 with 14 first-place finishes.
The 1967 model year Charger received minor changes. Outside, new fender-mounted turn signals were introduced and this would serve as the main external identifier between a 1966 and 1967 Charger. A vinyl roof became available. Inside, the full length console was gone, due in part to customer complaints about entry and exit from the back seats. It was replaced with a regular sized console. Bucket seats were standard, but a folding armrest/seat and column shifter was an option allowing three people to sit up front.
The 440 "Magnum" was added and the 361 cu in (5.9 L) V8 was replaced by a 383 cu in (6.3 L) engine. The 440 was rated at 375 bhp (280 kW) with a single 4-barrel carburetor. The 318 two-barrel "LA" Chrysler LA engine was now the base engine with wedge-shaped combustion chambers, unlike the previous 1966 polyspherical (or "poly") design, it was rated at 230 bhp (170 kW). The 383 4-barrel rated at 325 bhp (242 kW) and the 426 Street Hemi rated at 425 bhp (317 kW) remained as options. A mere 117 Chargers were built with the 426 engine.
Sales of the 1967 Chargers dropped to half of the previous introductory half-year with a total of 15,788 units.