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1966 Dodge Charger Overview

On January 1, 1966, at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, Chrysler unveiled its first entry into the fastback muscle car market, the Dodge Charger.

Based on the Dodge Coronet, it was virtually identical, except for that trademark fastback roof. Like the Coronet, the two-door Charger was big, 22 inches longer than the Mustang. The car was made for speedsters, so all models were V8. Why bother with anything less? The Charger came standard with a 318, 230-horsepower, 2-barrel engine, whose weak performance didn't match the look of the car. Better options were the 361, 2-barrel, 265 bhp or the most popular 383, 4-barrel, 325 bhp. A 3-speed manual or Torque Flite tranny came standard with the 318, while the bigger engines were paired with a 4-speed manual or Torque Flite.

But the biggest engine of them all made its street debut with the Charger. The 426 Hemi V8, rated at 425 bhp (but reaching 500 bhp) existed only on the race car circuit prior to the Charger. Its inclusion in the Charger turned this car into a true street racer.

And a great look to go along with the great engine. Carl Cameron designed the exterior, adding to the fastback roof full-length taillights and a full-length convex grille. The headlights rotated open or closed. Inside were four bucket seats with a front-to-back console in between. The rear seats even folded down for more cargo space. Also unique to the Charger was its instrument panel -- four sunken pods lit by electroluminescence.

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