It was in the year 1966 when the Dodge Charger entered the fastback muscle car segment. It was a response to the Mustang’s existence, and yes, it was a luxury. Although based on the Coronet, it was a mid-size fastback coupe that closely resembled the AMC Marlin in shape and size and did not draw much visual inspiration from the Coronet. The Charger was previewed in an ad flashing “Leader of the Dodge Rebellion” during the 1966 Rose Bowl.
The Dodge Charger, with its huge wraparound rear window and attractive fastback design, became hard to miss on the road, especially in the 1960s. How can anyone forget the front ‘electric shaver’ grille that covers the entire front and is held in place by chrome trim pieces. It also hides the four headlights that rotate into view on demand. Just below the grille is a wide chromed bumper with two integrated vertical elements. The same can also be found at the back. One of the peculiar things about this car is that when you open the hood, it opens with the central part of the front trim.
The 1966 Charger has a square outline because a rectangle was the geometric shape. But it never looks dull, thanks to the two character lines running down the center of the car, giving it a chiseled look. The lines run along the front wheels, over the door, then widen apart to make room for the two sets of horizontal elements at the rear of the Charger. Chrome found its place in several places, such as the top of the fenders and even the doors. It also gets Rallye-style hubcaps with blacked-out areas and a chrome lip.
Frankly, it was dealer demand that led Chrysler to come up with the Dodge Charger. They needed something to make the 1964 Plymouth Barracuda bite the dust. This also resulted in quite a few coming out with the same principle, for example AMC’s answer – the Rambler Marlin.
The 1966 Dodge Charger had a beautiful interior
Since the 1966 Dodge Charger was made to be neck-and-neck and even taller than the Mustang and even other coupe models, the interior was curated to stand out as well. There is a large three-spoke steering wheel, complemented by woodgrain on the rim which is replicated on the lower section of the dashboard. The center panel is colored black with a contrasting captured texture on the passenger seat. Mounted on top of the center panel of the dashboard are four large gauges that stand out in terms of design. On the outer silver rings, the numbers are written in black letters to represent the odometer and tachometer readings. The needle, which indicates how slow or fast you are going, moves within the gauges. Call it an old beauty, but the Dodge Charger doesn’t have the usual incandescent bulbs that illuminate the instrument panel. It has electroluminescent dash pods.
The center of the dashboard houses the radio and air conditioning controls, while the air vents are located just below the large, round steering wheel. There are also Sunpro gauges that provide information about pressure, temperature and battery status, placed on the underside of the dashboard.
The 1966 Dodge Charger gets four bucket seats, and the front seats fold flat to allow rear passengers to make room for their seats.
What drives the 1966 Dodge Charger
The 1966 Dodge Charger was originally offered with only a range of V8 engines and a 3-speed TorqueFlite automatic transmission was available as an option. It was in less than 500 units of the 1966 Charger that the 426 Hemi engine was given as an option. Additionally, as long as an engine had eight cylinders and was placed in a V-shape, one could have any engine of one’s choice in the 1966 Dodge Charger. Of course, four different V8s were released for the mid-’66 model year. The smallest of the lot was the 5.2-liter engine with a single two-barrel carburetor, followed by a 5.9-liter V8. Next in line was the 6.3-liter V8 with a four-barrel carburetor, and finally the 7.0-liter Hemi V8 with two four-barrel carburetors.
The 1966 Dodge Charger was quick on its feet and weighing in at 3,650 pounds; it took almost 10 seconds to reach a speed of 100 km/h and a top speed of 200 km/h. Its 6.3-liter SOHC naturally aspirated V8 engine produced 325 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque at 5,500 rpm.
Owning a 1966 Dodge Charger can be like owning a piece of history, and it’s often hard to put a label on it. Still, we have a figure to quote. In an average state, chargers can be purchased for anywhere from $12,000 – $18,000. While a restored piece is estimated to ask for somewhere between $25,000 and $35,000 at auction.