For the past 50 years, since the first Dodge Charger took to the streets in 1966, Americans have enjoyed an obsession with power, performance and style. The 1966 model was the brand’s first purpose-built muscle car, and left the competition in the dust with an enormous, optional 426 HEMI® V8 engine that pumped out 425 horsepower at 5, 000 rpm and 490 pound-feet of torque at 4, 000 rpm. The ’66 Dodge Charger was a flat-out menace on the asphalt, and a game-changer in a hyper-competitive segment and era.
With the foundation firmly in place, the Dodge Charger continued to grow in size and stature, year after year, always striving for cutting-edge design, awe-inspiring interiors, and performance and capability that broke boundaries with each new iteration of the iconic vehicle.
In this five part series, the Redline Dodge Blog is looking back at five landmark models in the Dodge Charger’s 50-year history. Today we’re focusing on the 1968 Dodge Charger, with blog posts to follow on the 1969 Charger, 1970 Charger, 2006 Charger and 2016 Charger SRT® Hellcat.
Strap on your safety belts and prepare to be pressed back into your seat.
The 1968 Dodge Charger: Interior, Exterior and Engines
The 1968 Dodge Charger built on the reputation and successes of the 1966 model, maintaining the soul and inspiration of the vehicle while introducing new design and performance upgrades. Perhaps most notably, the 1968 Dodge Charger was the first to feature the eye-catching Coke Bottle styling, with a curvier front fender and rear quarter panel.
Designer Richard Sias was the mastermind behind the 1968 Charger’s groundbreaking Coke Bottle styling, and Harvey J. Winn was responsible for the front- and rear-end sheet metal. The 1968 Charger replaced the electric motor rotating headlights with a vacuum-operated cover, while staying true to form and retaining the full-width hidden-headlamp grille. Dual circular taillamps replaced the full-width versions, and dual scallops were added to the doors and hood.
Not to be outdone by the Coke Bottle exterior, the interior of the 1968 Charger saw its own upgrades and changes. For starters, the center armrest was removed, along with the rear bucket seats, which were replaced with fixed rear seats. The tachometer was no longer a standard feature, and conventional gauges were added, as well as a vinyl mat in the trunk.
Of course, power is the thing, and the 1968 Dodge Charger had that in spades, featuring a standard 318-cubic-inch (5.2-liter) 2-bbl V8 engine, and later that year, a 225-cubic-inch (3.7-liter) slant-six engine. For those who opted for the high-performance package, the 1968 Dodge Charger R/T boasted a 375-horsepower 440 Magnum or the optional 425-horsepower 426 HEMI engine.
1968 also marked the introduction of the “Scat Pack” and its cartoon ad campaign. The Charger R/T came to be recognized for its bumblebee stripes, not to mention its powerful engine. Even Hollywood took notice; the 1968 Dodge Charger R/T 440 Magnum was featured in one of the big screen’s most iconic car chase scenes.
With plenty of power under the hood and an updated design, the 1968 Dodge Charger found its way into movies, auto shows and driveways all across America. The gauntlet was laid, and the most formidable competition would prove to be the following year’s model. Stay tuned for an upcoming blog post on the 1969 Dodge Charger.
Learn more about the history of the Dodge Charger at the Redline Dodge Blog, and check out the current lineup at dodge.com.