30. Mai 2008

The 1967 Charger

Since the Dodge Charger was such a sales success despite its midyear introduction, changes were limited for 1967. Outside, new fender-mounted turn signals were introduced and would serve as the main outside identifier between a 1966 and 1967 Charger. A vinyl roof became available as well. Inside, the full length console was gone, due in part to customer complaints about entry and exit from the back seats. It was replaced with a regular sized console. Bucket seats were standard, but a folding armrest/seat and column shifter was an option allowing three people to sit up front.

As for engine options, the 440 "Magnum" was added and was introduced in1968 as the standard engine in the R/T package. The 440 was Chrysler's biggest engine and it was conservatively rated at 375bhp (280 kW) with a single 4-barrel carburetor. It was cheaper than the Hemi, could keep up with it until about 60 mph, and was easier to tune and race on the street. But for serious racing, the Hemi was still the boss. The 361 cid engine was replaced by a 383 cid engine. The 318 two-barrel engine remained, although it was now a Chrysler LA engine, unlike the 1966 polysphere "poly" design. The 383 4-barrel and the 426 Street Hemi remained as options.

Despite the Chargers' NASCAR racing success of 1966, sales slipped by half. In 1967 only 15,788 Chargers were sold. The Chargers faced competition from the Trans-Am Series, the Ford Mustang and the just introduced Chevrolet Camaro. Dodge decided that a major redesign was in order, rather than a minor face-lift.

Production Numbers: 15,788 (118 Hemi)

20. Mai 2008

Birth of the Charger

In 1964, when the Pontiac GTO started the American muscle car era with strong sales, the rest of GM's divisions were quick to jump on the muscle car bandwagon. Buick followed with the Gran Sport and even Oldsmobile brought out the 442. Dodge, despite putting out cars that could meet or beat these cars on the street or strip, didn't have a performance image muscle car of their own. Even with available performance engines, the Coronet's styling and image was considered by most to be "conservative."

Burt Bouwkamp, Chief Engineer for Dodge during the 1960s and one of the men behind the Dodge Charger, related his experience during a speech in July 2004.

"Lynn Townsend was at odds with the Dodge Dealers and wanted to do something to please them. So in 1965 he asked me to come to his office - for the second time. He noted that one of the Dodge Dealer Council requests was for a Barracuda type vehicle. The overall dealer product recommendation theme was the same - we want what Plymouth has. The specific request for a Mustang type vehicle was not as controversial to Lynn. His direction to me was to give them a specialty car but he said 'for God's sake don't make it a derivative of the Barracuda': i.e. don't make it a Barracuda competitor.

"So the 1966 Dodge Charger was born. We built a Charger 'idea' car which we displayed at auto shows in 1965 to stimulate market interest in the concept. It was the approved design but we told the press and auto show attendees that it was just an "idea" and that we would build it if they liked it. It was pre-ordained that they would like it."

The concept car received a positive response, so Dodge put it into production.

2. Mai 2008

1965 Dodge Charger II

Unveiled at the 1965 Auto Show circuit, the Charger II gave the public a close look of what Dodge would be releasing in January of 1966. The Charger II show car demonstrated the new styling ideas at Chrysler Corporation. Clean, simple, and sweeping lines define the new Charger’s shape. The long smooth hood is capped with a delta hood ornament, while the fastback roofline joins to the short rear deck lid. In order to maintain a smooth clean appearance door handles were replaced with a concealed latch. The vent frames were removed to create an open and clean expanse of side glass. The Charger’s cowl houses three larger air ducts that circulate fresh air throughout the interior and exhaust the stale air through vents atop each rear fender.

The front grill assembly is stylish but functional. A full steel grill wraps around the front of the Charger, with four smaller divider bars connecting the headlights. The massive grill assembly provides true bumper-like protection. The twin rectangular headlights further enhance Charger’s simple clean appearance. The Charger was designed to accept any one of Dodge’s high performance engines.

The Charger’s interior includes such amenities as power windows and ventilated seatbacks. The Charger features fully padded four bucket seats with body molded contours. The door panels on the Charger are smooth and cleanly styled, and are combined with an integrated armrest and door latch. A full length console houses the power window controls, shift selector, and armrests.

The dash cluster has four large pods for easy viewing. The two center pods house the speedometer and tachometer. The rear bucket seats and armrests in the Charger fold down to provide a flat and large cargo area. The rear truck dividing panel also folds flat allowing an addition increase in Charger’s cargo area.

Dodge Charger II Concept Car: After its debut at the Chicago Auto Show from February 20 until 28, 1965, the design study toured several US auto shows and scored great success. The production version built from model year 1966 featured pop-up headlights which were hidden behind a full-width radiator grill when not in use. Otherwise only minor modifications had been made as compared to the show car.

1. Mai 2008

Ein Traum geht in Erfüllung

Schon lange verfolgte ich die NASCAR-Serie. Vor allem auch die Rennen der 60/70er Jahre. Zudem verdrehte ich mir nach jedem sattem V8-Sound den Kopf. Im Dezember 2007 stieß ich mit einem Freund aus NY auf ein Online-Auktionshaus bei dem Muscle-Cars jeglicher Art neue Besitzer fanden. Wir begannen nebenbei mit der Suche nach bezahlbaren Varianten und so wurde ich letztendlich mit dem Wunsch nach einem eigenen Gefährt infiziert. Dabei versteifte ich mich auf den Dodge Charger 1967, mich fasziniert die Form und vor allem die Heckpartie.

Ende Februar schien die doch recht kurze Suche Früchte zu tragen und ein blauer 67er Charger fiel mir ins Auge. Der deutsche Importeur wollte sich bei mir melden sobald die Verzollung in Rotterdam erledigt sei, aber der Charger wurde mir sozusagen direkt vor der Nase weggeschnappt bzw. ein anderer Interessent kaufte ihn ungesehen "aus dem Übersee-Container". Pech für mich und die Suche begann von vorne.

Knapp einen Monat später entdeckte ich dann meinen Charger auf zwei Auktionsplattformen und der Kontakt zum Verkäufer war schnell hergestellt. Nach ein paar Telefonaten, E-Mails und der Klärung des Preises schlug ich dann zu. Ab dann begann eine nervenaufreibende Warterei von der Verschiffung bis zur Auslieferung an meinen Wohnort. Gute zwei Monate vergingen bis der LKW mit meinem ersten MOPAR eintraf. Das liest sich alles einfach, aber für mich war die Warterei bis zur letzten Sekunde der reinste Horror. :)