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Lash out at lazy luxury cars

February 1966

Dodge Charger - Detroit's latest fastback is a neat package of proven components, but the best of Charger is yet to come!

Car and Driver - February 1966This new vehicle the latest Detroit entrant into the burgeoning field of fastbacks. After falling out of style during the 1940s, the sloping roofline began its renaissance with the introducing of the Plymouth Barracuda in 1964. Hard on its heels came the Mustang 2+2 and the Rambler Marlin, and the now the Charger. When Chrysler Corporation developed the Barracuda, management gave Dodge Division the option of marketing its own version with different trim work or developing a completely new sports model on a 117-inch Coronet wheel base.  Recalling the thundering failure when Plymouth and Dodge joined to market the rear-identical Valiants and Lancers, the Dodge boys chose to develop their own version, even though it would mean a one-year delay in getting the automobile on the market.

Dodge had planned to get the Charger into production as a late arrival in the 1965 lineup, but production difficulties delayed its debut until the 1966 model year.  This forced Dodge to make a minor adjustment in their promotional strategy, because the entire line of 1966's was intended to reflect the "Charger look." Obviously, this was a bit difficult to accomplish as long as the regular models were going to reach the public before the Charger, but the fact remains that there is a strong generic resemblance between the Charger and the entire intermediate-sized Coronet lineup.

Despite the fact that one of the Charger's major styling features is a grille with concealed headlights, the entire frontal treatment has a strong Coronet flavor.  This is due primarily to the fact the same long, narrow rectangle encloses the grille work on both cars, and when the headlights are exposed on the Charger, it looks like a Coronet.  The disappearing headlights on the Charger are electrically powered, and operating automatically when the lights turned on and off. However, the they can be lifted permanently exposed merely by snapping another switch on the Charger instrument panel.

Because of its strong heritage, it would be denial of all logic if the Charger didn't feel like a Coronet on the road. Indeed it does feel like a Coronet, and that, we suppose, should not be interpreted as a drawback.  The Dodge Coronet is a well-engineered, medium-sized vehicle with a properly located beam rear axle and sensible weight distribution.  The Charger is a good automobile, make no mistake about it, but we had something expected more when we got behind the wheel. Maybe it's because the sporty styling conjured up the fantasy of all sorts of exotic engineering underneath.  At any rate, we failed to get terribly turned on with the car during our initial tests. It wasn't that we disliked it, it was just the fact that we'd been before -- in an ordinary Coronet.



October 1966

New Cars 1967

Chrysler engineers seem to have occupied themselves during the off-season by cooking up new ingredients for their 1967 engine line. Prime target for their labors has been the 318 cu. in. engine.  The block has been lightened 60lbs, through thin-wall casting techniques, and the cylinder heads are completely new. Gone are the old polyspheric combustion chambers and the attendant valve train. The new heads feature wedge-type chambers, in-line valves, and a relocation of the spark plug.  Overall engine width has been considerably narrowed.  Chrysler also spent some time revising the 440 cu. in. engine, concentrating once again on the heads. Last year this engine was plagued by narrow exhaust passages, severely limiting its potential power.  The new 440 head design features huge intake ports, more direct exhaust routing, and a revised valve train. It is available almost throughout the Chrysler Corporation big-car range as either a 375-hp high-performance engine,  or in a milder 350-hp version (standard on most models, including the Imperial). Dodge and Plymouth have brought out two new performance models, the Dodge R/T and the Plymouth GTX, which are equipped with the 375-hp version as standard equipment. The 426 cu. in. hemispherical combustion chamber engine is optional in both cars, and is unchanged with 425-hp and 490 lbs/ft. of torque.  With the new high-performance 440s (Dodge calls theirs the 440 Magnum, Plymouth's is the 440 Super Commando), the value of the Hemi as a street engine fades. It's still America's most advanced pushrod racing engines, but in street trim the 440 will blow it off.

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