Across all generations, the Dodge Charger has a commanding presence, drawing all eyes it’s way as it rumbles down the block. But it’s the classics that are a true sight to behold, especially if you grew up with “The Dukes of Hazzard” playing on loop.
Since these cars were only made for less than ten years before losing their charm, they’re hard-won on the used car market. If you can get your hands on one, they’re well worth cherishing forevermore.
To inspire your journey toward classic Dodge Charger ownership, here’s a look at how this amazing collector car came to be – and what happened to it in the end.
A Mission to Take the Pony Car to the Next Level
As the pony car extravaganza took the mid-1960s by storm, Dodge sat back and watched from afar. Then, they got to work on taking the pony car formula to the next level by supersizing it. Their upscaled version mimicked the Mercury Cougar build style but had the luxury of a Ford Thunderbird.
Initial sales were low, with the pony car craze taking the world by storm. But by the second generation, the world was ready for big power in an even bigger package. When Bo and Luke Duke started their high-flying adventures in their 1969 Charger, General Lee, fans took notice and started dreaming of owning a piece of history.
The Ongoing Evolution of the Charger Platform
In its first ten years, the Charger went through many iterations as Dodge looked for just the right build. The second and third generations sold the best, but everyone has their favourites.
Introduced in 1966, the first-generation Dodge Charger broke free of the popular pony car mold yet didn’t embrace the big-body luxury car aesthetic. As their build fell between those two ideals, the general public didn’t quite know what to make of it – and sales seriously lacked.
Looking back, it’s clear that the fastback body design was more than flashy, while the four-bucket seat interior oozed sportiness. It just didn’t get the recognition it deserved at the time. Part of the problem was that the base 318 cubic inch V8 powerplant didn’t have as much oomph as enthusiasts wanted. But the 426 cubic inch Hemi V8 did await those who could fork out the cash.
In creating the second-generation Charger from 1968 to 1970, Dodge hit their sweet spot. The fastback roofline remained, although the entire build took on a more aerodynamic shape thanks to its wind tunnel development. In 1969, the grille gained its iconic split-nose aesthetic before returning to the plain one-piece design just one year later.
As for performance, multiple engine options came on the scene, including:
- 3.7L Inline-6
- 7.0L Hemi V8
- 7.2L Magnum V8
For a truly spirited ride, you could pair your monster V8 with a four-speed manual. Two different automatic transmissions were available as well plus a three-speed manual if you preferred.
As emissions and safety regulations put a stranglehold on the muscle car industry, Dodge tried to yet again rework the Charger in hopes of keeping it alive. Running from 1971 to 1974, the third gen brought back the split grille of ’69 to the delight of many.
In addition, it gained visible headlamps, a ducktail spoiler, and eventually got fancy quarter windows. Beyond that, the changes were few and far between. Sales increased anyway as the discontinuation of the two-door Coronet opened up room for the Charger’s coupe’ version to gain a foothold.
Fourth Gen and Beyond
By 1975, Dodge restyled the Charger yet again. This time, they aimed to move it into the personal luxury car market. After just three years of that, the Charger took a brief leave of absence before coming back as a front-wheel drive hatchback. Meant to get past the strict regulations of the time, this Omni-inspired coupe only lasted five years before ending the Charger’s journey in the 20th century.
Over 20 years later, Dodge decided to lean into nostalgia and revive the Charger using the Chrysler LX platform. They’ve gone big on the performance, too, rolling out high-end trims like the SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody. And yet, these modern variants lack the charm of the classics, especially if you’ve long since fallen in love with their original iterations.
Despite the rapid changes through the years, the Dodge Charger remains one of the most popular classic cars. The short generations mean you have to look long and hard for your perfect build. But once you find it, you’ll have a collector car worth holding onto for years to come.
When you find the classic car of your dreams, you’ll want to make sure it’s protected. A Wayfarer Insurance broker can help you determine what kind of coverage you need to make sure you can enjoy your classic car for years to come. Call 1-844-929-4768 get your quote today.