When the Hive was Alive – Looking Back at the Dodge Scat Pack

Original Scat Pack

It was the height of the swinging ’60s, when rock music, fashion and styles were being pushed to the limits. Women cut their hair short, while men grew their hair out. Astronauts orbited the planet in the tranquility of the peaceful heavens, while back on terra firma civil unrest ruled daily headlines.

 

The era also marked the ramping up of the muscle car wars. Soon, the design and engineering offices of Detroit’s Big Three were buzzing with the development of their own mid-priced hot cars to do battle with the competition.

 

Despite having introduced the 426 Max Wedge engine a year earlier, Dodge needed to secure a firmer foothold with the hungry masses of young buyers looking for cool and affordable performance cars. The 426 Max Wedge powered unassuming sedans and coupes and could obliterate anything on the track or street, but the outward appearance of those vehicles more closely resembled an undercover police car than a street brawler. Image was huge for the cruising and drive-in scene, and not every buyer wanted to contend with noisy solid lifters or cross ram intakes with dual quads. Many young folks just wanted a cool car that, in many cases, attracted the opposite sex.

 

By 1967, the Dodge Coronet R/T came out and got the ball rolling as a performance image vehicle for the Dodge brand. Its standard 375 horsepower 440 Magnum was ample ammunition to shut down the hordes of popular muscle cars and even home-built hot rods cruising Main Street USA. Of course, if you needed to drop the big one, the 426 HEMI® was optional.

 

As 1967 began to wind down, the Dodge product planning folks, along with their ad agency, Ross Roy, began developing a hip new marketing concept for the 1968 performance car lineup. This campaign would tie together the three performance models — Charger R/T, Coronet R/T and Dart GTS (Super Bee would be added mid ’68) — and garage them under a specific marketing strategy to generate increased consumer awareness and loyalty towards these performance models.

 

While the name of the exact individual who dreamed up the Dodge Scat Pack design, name and concept is unknown, regardless, it was pure brilliance on the part of the Ross Roy Ad agency and the Chrysler marketing department. First, the concept created a cool theme, with a mascot and tagline specifically for the Dodge performance lineup. This prevented the R/T, Super Bee and GTS models from getting lost and buried within the traditional marketing materials and brand advertising campaigns. Second, a wide-open throttle PR and media blitz announcing the formation of the Dodge Scat Pack got word out very quickly. Third, the marketing offensive engaged consumers directly with the creation of a “Scat Pack Club,” which offered members a newsletter containing racing updates, tuning tips and other cool information for gearheads. Finally, Dodge was the first domestic automaker to promote its image with wild-looking Scat Pack jackets along with other cool items such as patches, decals and more. All these elements made the Dodge Scat Pack a huge success —a recipe that its rival cousin, Plymouth, would adopt in 1970 with the creation of the “Rapid Transit System.”

 

Scat Pack Membership

 

Designers quickly went to work, creating a Bee mascot that exhibited different styles of movement, while young copywriters at the agency developed catchy taglines such as “Run with the Pack” and “The Cars with the Bumble Bee Stripes.” The elements of a great marketing campaign were coming together, elements that were closely integrated with the actual look, feel and vibe of the performance cars of the Dodge Scat Pack.

 

1969 Dart Swinger

 

Also in 1969, Dodge offered a “Super Bee Scat Pak Special” package on 383 Magnum-equipped vehicles. This package included the Ramcharger fresh air hood with special paint treatment and chrome tie down pins, F70X14 raised white letter or redline tires and optional vinyl roof. It’s unknown if product planners and marketing folks meant to change the spelling from “Pack” to “Pak” for this cool, rare option. Either way, ordering a 1969 Super Bee back in the day with the package would’ve been nothing short of awesome.

 

Scat Pak Special

The Dodge Scat Pack enjoyed a great run and from its “hive” came legendary performance vehicles such as the 440 Six Pack Super Bee, Challenger and Charger R/T, Dart Swinger 340, Demon 340 and others. Even though 1971 would be the final year Dodge would use the Scat Pack as a marketing tool for their performance cars, the brand still took out full color multi-page ads in many publications. While other manufacturers began their exit strategy from the high-performance car market, the Dodge Scat Pack offered some of coolest rides right through the end of the 1971 model year.

 

The Dodge Scat Pack represented the pinnacle of creative marketing and advertising during the horsepower wars. Some might think of it as a distant memory of an era, never to return to the automotive landscape. Just remember one thing — what was in the rearview mirror can still pass you if it has enough horsepower and cool factor.

 

Scat Pack Retro


  • SUBLIME

    I wish you would change the Charger’s front end so it looks like a 1969 or ’70. It would be nice if you could put the R/T scoops on the doors as well. An air grabber or shaker hood would be a nice option on the Charger and Challenger. Heck, why not the Avenger and Dart. Offer the Darts and Avenger in plum crazy and sublime green along with some flat black stripes on them and they would really sell. Especially, as their R/T and G/T options. Everybody wants a cool car in their price range.

  • James

    2012 Challenger SRT8 392 Yellowjacket with Hennessey HPE650 supercharger mod and matte black graphics. At 610 RWHP – it scats alright! Resides in Los Alamos New Mexico.