Marketing Dodge in the Musclecar Era pt 2: The Sting of the Scat Pack


 

 
The Scat Pack and its Bees shows up in 1968

 

There have been many ways to market vehicle brands over the years. Revolutionary designs and changes, catchy car names, and frankly keeping up with the times (and the imaginary ‘Joneses’) all helped create the desire that would lead a buyer to come and see what all the excitement was about. As the era of the performance car developed in the 1960s, Dodge decided to go one step further: for 1968, they developed an entire group of vehicles whose focus was on performance. They called it the Scat Pack.

 

 

 
Two looks at the beginning of the Pack. One shows a 1968 Charger, with the Scat Pack stripe that wrapped around the rear end. The R/T models, like this ’68 Coronet convertibles, joined the Scat Pack if they came with Hemi power. The 440 versions could make it if they were not too ‘heavily’ optioned.

To qualify for the Scat Pack title, the car had to be capable of breaking down into the 14-second bracket in the standing-start quarter-mile, and only four cars were available that year which could do so. The Charger R/T, the Coronet R/T, the mid-year Super Bee (also based on the Coronet), and the new Dart 340 GTS. The latter, with its 340 engine as standard and an optional 383 Magnum, was the only lightweight A-Body in the group. The new 340 was to become the quintessential small-block engine in the Chrysler model line, with enough displacement to take on the 350 Chevrolets and 351 Fords. Though not officially ‘members’ of the Scat Pack, Mr., Norm Krause out of Chicago offered a limited number of Darts with a 440 transplant for the street, and the factory also authorized a race-only version that had a full-tilt race HEMI under the hood. Hurst Industries built those cars, which have continued to dominate the top echelons of NHRA Super Stock to this day.

 

 
For racing only, Dodge had Hurst Industries build special Darts with lightweight panels, special equipment and 426” cross-ram equipped Race Hemis. The Good Guys was another one of Dodge’s marketing slogans; this car was driven by Dick Oldfield. Photo courtesy www.quartermilestones.com archive; York US 30 circa 1969-70.

 

Meanwhile, all three B-bodied models easily qualified for Scat status with the factory Hemi option. The R/T models came standard with the 440 Magnum, which could also get down into the 14-second zone with a tight 4.10 rear gear and a little less weight than the standard luxury items afforded. The Super Bee was released in midyear, and got its name from the bee logo that had been adopted to promote the Scat Pack. Standard power in the ‘Bee was a new 335-hp 383 engine that had been assembled out of the existing parts bin when Plymouth had created their Road Runner at the start of the 1968 model year. Like Road Runner, the Super Bee was marketed to a younger, less affluent buyer, but that also meant lighter weight, which in turn made them capable of also joining the Scat Pack.

 

 

 
The Super Bee was a late-comer to the Pack, introduced in early 1968 after Road Runner became a big hit for Plymouth. The ad shows its introduction, while the photo is of a 1970 version, when the stripe was twisted across the quarter panel.

 

So how could you identify if the Dodge you were looking at was a Scat Pack vehicle? For 1968, these cars received dual stripes wrapped around the rear fenders and deck lid; one magazine joked they went so fast ‘they almost got past the striper!’ Those stripes were standard on the cars, with the Super Bee getting a cool cartoon-ish design added to its stripe as well. If you wanted to be more sedate, they could be deleted when the car was ordered, but it was a popular badge of honor.

 

Before the program ended as the performance era wound down in 1971, others had been added – the new 340 Swinger in 1969, the Demon 340 in ‘71, the E-body Challenger R/T and T/A, and the race-bred Charger 500 (in 1969) and the special winged Charger Daytona. The ‘bee’ logo went from being a somewhat funny-looking caricature in early 1968 to several very stylized renderings that quickly became identified with the Scat Pack. Dodge called the place they lived in Scat City, and owners and interested people could join the Scat Pack Club and get special premiums, a newsletter subscription, and parts deals. Allpar.com has one of these newsletters up on their website here.

 

Here are some of the Super Bee drawings that turned up in the 1968 advertising campaign; cool, eh…
 

Rumble Bee – 1968 Super Bee.

 
Beautiful Screamer – 1968 Charger R/T
 

 
Swinger – 1968 Dart Swinger 340
 

 
Wailer – 1969 Charger R/T
 

 
6000 RPM – 1969 Dart Swinger 340

 

 
A Scat Pack member that never arrived was the 1971 version of the Challenger T/A, though it did appear in the magazine advertising for the 1971 model year.

 

Today, as recounted during the redletterdodge.com Hemi Highway tour, the Frederick Dodge franchise in North Carolina has even grabbed onto the old logo and made it their own as the Frederick Scat Pack Club for their performance buyers. Ram used the ‘bee’ logo when it did the Rumble Bee, and Dodge has offered limited-production 6.1L Hemi Super Bees during the recent model runs. Perhaps what is most impressive is that Dodge can recreate a new 21st century Scat Pack around the SRT8 and R/T models, which could again be wrapped around the tail with graphics that were ‘almost too quick for the striper.’


  • SUBLIME

    Just copy these cars and you will sell a lot more. You need a two door Avenger with a twin turbo V6 to replace the Dart. An affordable muscle car? Stripes, hood scoops, spoilers, wings, the more the better. Kurt Busch is running a 2 door Avenger in NHRA. I see so many of those old 2 door Avengers on the road. People just loved them.

  • http://www.westcoastchallengers.com West Coast Challengers

    This article was great blast from the past. With everything going retro these days, from clothing to movie remakes to cars themselves, it would seem like the Chrysler marketing department would want to jump into reviving the Scat Pack, both in terms of the club newsletter (much like Red Letter Dodge is doing right now) and the striping on the cars.

  • SoCal Challengers

    Wow great article! I remember as a kid seeing those bright in your face colors, the stripes and of course the rumble of MOPAR muscle. That bee is still buzzin and the Scat Pack is alive and well.

  • ChuckG

    Some clarification is needed here. Frederick Dodge was located in Boardman, Ohio. Bob and his dad had the rug pulled out from underneath them when Chrysler was closing dealerships and closed theirs. And it was all because of politics in Auburn Hills. Ask around….there are plenty of people there that know what happened.

    As far as I know, Bob still owns the rights to Scat Pack.

  • http://www.cardomain.com/ride/3089456 Paladin06

    Wow…what a blast from the past. If only you build them like that again. I’d fill my garage and a storage building full of them.

  • Sporty

    The R/T models, like this ’68 Coronet convertibles should be these.