1966 Dodge Charger
8-cyl. 318cid/230hp 2bbl
With an experienced team and a lot of data.
Dodge cashed in on the booming muscle car craze in 1966 with an uneasy adaptation of the Coronet. The new ’66 Dodge Charger was a huge two-door Fastback on a 117-inch wheelbase and was 75.3 inches wide with four bucket seats, the back two folding down for a large storage area.
Headlights were hidden behind a full-width grille and the taillights stretched across the rear panel with the word “Charger” spelled out. The sides were fluted like the Coronet, with some Mustang-like scoops added. Buyers were dubious, and only 37,300 ’66 Chargers found homes, compared to 607,568 1966 Mustangs.
The Charger’s instruments were grouped in front of the driver in four round pods and a full-length console divided both sets of seats, with either an automatic transmission or 3- or 4-speed manual gearbox. Base engine was the 230 bhp 318 cid V-8, but optional engines included a 265 bhp 361 cid V-8, a 330 bhp 383 cid V-8, and a 425 bhp, 426 cid Street Hemi.
Hemi-powered Chargers were fitted with dual 4-barrel carburetors, heavy duty suspension and shocks and bigger brakes. Buyers received a 12,000-mile 12-month warranty but it came with a warning that it would be invalidated by “extreme operation” (drag racing) or any modifications to the driveline. Hemi powered Chargers were good for 0-60 mph in 6.8 seconds and a quarter-mile in 15 seconds at 96 mph.
Dodge was racking up quite a record in NHRA drag racing and 468 Chargers were sold with the expensive 425 bhp Street Hemi. Of those buyers, only 218 ordered automatic transmissions. NASCAR racers thought the fastback would help with high speed oval tracks but found it created lift at the rear. The solution was a spoiler, which corrected the problem, and Chargers won 18 races.
Other options included air conditioning, AM/FM radio, cruise control, power steering, power door locks, tinted glass, two-tone paint, tachometer and power bucket seats.
Dodge offered 21 colors for the 1966 Charger, including Sandstone, Mauve, Maroon, Deep Plum, Silver, Black, Light Blue, Medium Blue, Dark Blue, Light Green, Dark Green, Medium Turquoise, Dark Turquoise, Bright Red, Red, Yellow, Cream, White, Beige, Saddle Bronze, and Gold.