The Dodge Charger 0-60 Times May Not Have Been Class-Leading, But This 60’s Supercar Still Had Plenty To Recommend It

August 13, 2014

The classic cars of the muscle car era were certainly built to go fast, but some had substance as well as speed. The 1968 Dodge Charger 0-60 figures were impressive, but it also had qualities that made it more than just another road rocket. The most notable of these was its unusually elegant appearance. Described by Car and Driver road testers as possibly the most dramatic styling to have ever emerged from Detroit, it set this car apart and sealed its status as a classic.

This so-called ‘coke bottle’ styling was without doubt the biggest improvement made over the outgoing model. Long and low-slung, the sporty design had an elegance to it that was previously lacking. The motoring public certainly gave it the thumbs up – they went on to buy it in huge numbers.

Product planners were expecting to sell in the region of 20,000, but the new car went on to rack up a staggering 96,000+ sales. To cope with demand, production levels at the Dodge plant in Hamtramck, Michigan was tripled. Chrysler Corp also added a Charger line at its plant in St Louis, Missouri. In total, the Charger accounted for an impressive sixteen percent of Dodge sales in the 1968 model year.

Although the Charger’s design was trend-setting, it’s mechanical underpinnings were entirely conventional. Its base engine was Chrysler’s 318 small-block V8, which was supplemented by two big-block V8’s of 383 and 440 cubic inches, respectively. The famous NASCAR-inspired 426 cubic inch ‘hemi’ was also made available, but just a few hundred were built.

A new performance variant was also added to the lineup in 1968. The R/T (Road/Track) was an option pack that featured a high-performance version of Chrysler’s 440 V8. It also included heavy duty brakes and suspension, a dual exhaust set-up and wide tires. This variant proved successful making up some twenty-one percent of 1968 sales.

With 17 exterior and 6 interior colors to choose from, customers had plenty of scope for personalization when ordering their new car. They could also add a vinyl roof and choose between floor or column-mounted transmission selectors. The cabin featured a bench seat at the rear and bucket seats up front. These were criticized however by road testers who complained about their uprightness and limited range of adjustment.

Chrysler Corp management were reluctant to spoil a winning formula for the 1969 model year, so the design was carried over largely unchanged. Minor changes were made to the exterior, most notably a horizontal chrome strip that adorned the grill. Engine options were carried over unchanged, although a 6-cylinder model was added to the range. This proved unpopular, with only 500 sold out of total production of 69,000.

The first significant revamp came in 1971 when an all-new design was unveiled. This was a smaller car with a shorter wheelbase and a shorter overall length. It was also cheaper than its predecessor with a starting price slightly over $2,700. This helped to perk up sales which had fallen somewhat during 1969, but this model was the last Charger that could be considered a true performance car. More stringent emissions and safety regulations came into force the following year which signaled the end of the muscle car era.

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posted in Autos by Linda Ruiz

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