If this Dodge Charger was decked out in All-Black, it would cut a far more threatening presence on the streets of San Francisco. As it stands, resplendent in a shade close to gold, it remains one of the most celebrated muscle machines of the late 1960’s.
The Charger was a cross section model with little definition. It too big to be a Pony Car, too unique in design to be a mainstream Mid Sized Muscle car (and Dodge had Coronet R/T models to serve that purpose) yet not as luxurious as some rivals to be cast as a personal coupe. In theory, it was one of the most unique Mopar offerings for the 2nd half of the 1960’s, and had a special corner of the market all to itself.
Based on the formerly “full sized” Chrysler B-Body platform that debuted to disastrous results in 1962, it cut a figure just as large visually as the then current 5th Generation Ford Thunderbird and wasn’t all that much smaller than the 2nd Generation Buick Riviera. Given those parameters and it’s more than unique bodyshell, one would ascribe the 2nd generation Charger a decidedly Personal Coupe role.
However, the emphasis for most specialty Dodges since the turn of the decade had been on outright performance, with a lackadaisical approach to luxury, keen not to step on the toes of Personal Coupe-less parent brand Chrysler. Performance-wise, though, you could cast a Charger as broadly as you could a Ford Mustang or Plymouth Barracuda. First stop in the engine bay was the decidedly utilitarian 225 cube version of the Slant 6 available just about everywhere but Chrysler Showrooms. Most buyers stepped up to either the 318 or 383 V8s, however. Given the swoopy bodywork and sporting intentions, it seemed wise to back up the badass image with a little bit of brawn.
It was only the R/T grade cars that came with the Magnum 440 V8, packing 375 readily available horses, to the table. You would be confused about the mission of this missile too if you spent around $4,000 for a well equipped example, putting it in within the grasp of a host of Near Luxury rivals alongside some of the ultimate pony-cars of the day. Capable of 0-60 in under 7 seconds and Quarter Mile trap speeds way past 100 mph, the special beast of Highland Park made a case for consideration against many a diverse specialty rival.
The Bulk of the sales went to Non-R/T grade Chargers, and the line held its own remarkably well as the specialty coupe market continued to diversify. Just shy of 90,000 Dodge Chargers went to customers for 1969, including the rather insane and be-winged Charger Daytona.
That stacks up pretty well for a car, that at its core, comes straight from some rather unloved, troll like ugly ducklings from 7 years previous. Notably, crosstown rival Pontiac, with their newly slimmed down and muscle’d up 1969 Grand Prix didn’t take as much of a chunk of Charger sales as one might anticipate.
Soon the mission would change, as the Fuselage themed Charger came along in 1971, handing off the bulk of the Performance burden to the Dodge Challenger as it concentrated on competing with the Pontiac Grand Prix, Chevrolet Monte Carlo and the bulked up Mercury Cougar. Less unique in design and in marketplace standing than the before, it left something very distinct, desireable and debaucherous about the 2nd Generation Dodge Charger. Today, the relative exclusivity of having no defined place in the world means the Dodge Charger stands above all, as one of the most valued classics of the 1960’s.