Welcome back to the Dodge Heritage Series, a 10-part exploration of Dodge brand history. This is Part 5 in the series.
The 1960s were a memorable time for Dodge. It was the golden age of the American muscle car, and Dodge was on the cutting edge of performance, engineering and styling and would lead the way in producing some of the most exciting cars of the era.
Dodge didn’t offer just one high-performance nameplate during these years, but an entire lineup of cars with industry-leading muscle and flair. While the early 1960s gave us the tasteful Dodge 330 and elegant Polara models powered by high-torque Wedge engines, it wasn’t until 1968 and the introduction of the Dodge Scat Pack that the brand really connected with the youth market.
The roster included the stylish Charger R/T, the brawny Coronet R/T and the no-frills Super Bee. For budget-minded enthusiasts, the lighter Dart GTS and eventually the Dart Swinger 340 became giant slayers. For the performance-minded young car buyers of the 1960s, Dodge offered a muscle car for every pocketbook, and needless to say, these models are highly prized by collectors today.
The awesome engines that powered these muscle car icons also became legends in their own right. The impressive lineup of high-octane-fueled, big-inch V-8s started with the 413 Max Wedge in 1962, and it grew to 426 cubic inches in 1963. The Max Wedge virtually made Dodge a force to be reckoned with on the drag strip overnight. The lessons learned from the Max Wedge program eventually found their way into the more civilized 383 and 440 Magnum engines and also the mighty 440 Six Pack that had three Holley carbs inhaling over 1300 cubic feet of air per minute. There was even small-block muscle as the lightweight, high-winding 340 packed a lot of punch.
Of course, the undisputed king of the hill during the muscle car era was the mighty 426 HEMI® V-8. Bred as a race engine, a tamer street version came on the scene in 1966 and became the king of the avenues and boulevards across the country. The days of the vintage muscle car have come and gone, but Dodge still offers an advanced, state-of-the-art version of the legendary HEMI V-8, with world-class performance and efficiency, in the Charger, Challenger and Durango.
Read Part 4 of the Heritage Series for more Dodge history. Also, be sure to visit the Heritage Wall section of the Dodge Power Rallye Tour, a traveling Dodge-based experience showcasing the best in performance vehicles. You can find the schedule of Tour events here.