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by Jay Traugott
When V8s came standard.
Dodge (and parent company Chrysler) certainly has had their fair share of ups and downs over the years. While the automaker has produced many all-time great models, their financial and quality issues were in question just not long ago. Fortunately, the automaker has been given a fresh start and is once again building some of the most desirable cars on the road today. Back in the 1960s, the big three automakers were busy working out the best combinations of luxury and performance.
This was also the same time in which the "personal luxury coupe" began to take shape, as automakers were interested in getting their customers to buy not just large sedans, but also large coupes. Believe it or not, the Dodge Charger that we know today is only similar to its ancestors through its name and V8 engine option. In the early 60s, Chrysler gave Dodge the task of developing a coupe that could fill in the so-called gap between the Ford Mustang and Thunderbird
. Their main challenge, however, was not to turn the new Dodge into a competitor of the Plymouth Barracuda
Launched in 1966, the Dodge Charger was a fastback coupe and featured a unique "electric shaver" grille. At first, power came from a variety of V8s only and it wasn't until 1968 was a straight-six made available. Yes, things were very different back then as fuel-efficiency was not truly taken into consideration. The base V8, a 318 cu in 5.2-liter unit, was mated to a three-speed manual mounted on the steering column. Optional V8s, such as the 361 cu in 5.9-liter and the 383 6.3-liter had either a four-speed manual or a three-speed slushbox. In addition, there was also the limited run (just 468 units) 426 Street Hemi with the 7.0-liter V8. Yeah, those were the days.
The Charger was redesigned in 1968 and it featured that era famous "coke bottle" styling. A line of V8s and a straight-six remained as engine options. This was also the Charger generation made famous in the T.V. show "The Dukes of Hazzard
". Throughout the 70s, the Charger lived on but like many other cars at the time, it just became bigger and bigger. The fourth generation was retired in 1978 when it was replaced by the Dodge Magnum. It returned from 1983 till 1987 as a front-wheel-drive coupe and there was even a Carroll Shelby edition offered, powered by a 2.2-liter Turbo I4 with 175hp.
Since 2005, the Charger has been sold as a large sedan, which to this day some enthusiasts haven't forgiven Dodge for turning their beloved coupe into a four-door. For those die-hard fans, we've found this first year, first generation 1966 Charger up for sale on eBay. Because it's a California car, it's managed to avoid harsh winters and remains in excellent condition. Since it's a first year model, it comes with those unique four bucket seats with a front and rear console. It's powered by the original 383 V8 mated to the four-speed manual and has just 33,000 miles.
In addition, it also features the original owner's manual and dealer brochure. The seller claims it's in overall great shape and gets attention everywhere it goes. It has a current bid of $12,300, but we have a feeling this is going to turn out to be an excellent bargain for whoever wins the auction. Photos courtesy of s-22.