Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
There have been a number of vehicles bearing the Dodge Charger nameplate, but the name has generally denoted a performance model in the Dodge range. The 1980s’ versions had a confusing array of names, and badge-engineered Plymouth and Chrysler versions were also available. In the late 1960s and early 1970s the Charger was one of the most popular of the Mopar B-body cars.
The first Charger was a mid-size American muscle car introduced in 1966, inspired by the popularity of the Ford Mustang and Plymouth Barracuda fastbacks. It was originally available with engines ranging from the base-model 318 ci (5.2l) V8, 361 B engine, 383 B engine, 440 RB engine, to the famous 426 Hemi.
The full-size 1968–70 models, featuring a restyled "flying buttress" fastback and recessed headlights, were the most popular Chargers. The top-line Charger R/T came standard with the 440 "Magnum" cubic inch (7.2 litre) V8 motor. The 440 was conservatively rated at 375 hp (280 kW) with a single four barrel and 390 hp (291 kW) with three two-barrels. Both engines could produce 425 to 435 hp (317 to 324 kW).
- See also Dodge Super Bee
The Dodge SuperBee made the move from the Coronet line to the Charger line for 1971 only, then the model was discontinued thereafter. A top-line R/T line was also produced, with 63 Hemi versions built and 2,659 made with other motors. Rapidly rising insurance rates combined with higher gasoline prices reduced sales of musclecars and 1971 was the last year of availability of the 426 Hemi "elephant engine" in any car, including the Charger. The 3rd generation Charger lasted through 1974, and continued to be produced up until 1978, it effectively ceased to be a performance car after the 1973 oil crisis and the vehicle was re-branded into the personal luxury segment, like many of its muscle car compatriots. A more luxurious version of the Charger, the Dodge Magnum, appeared for the 1978 and 1979 model years.
For 1979, Chrysler brought out sporty versions of the Dodge Omni/Plymouth Horizon called the Dodge 024 and Plymouth TC3. In 1982, these nameplates were changed to Dodge Omni Charger and Plymouth Turismo, respectively. Dodge launched a Shelby version of the Dodge Charger (no more "Omni") in 1983, called the Dodge Shelby Charger. Both models were revised for 1984, and turbocharged engines appeared in 1985 on the Dodge Charger Shelby and Plymouth Turismo Duster.
1987 was the last year for the Omni/Horizon-derived Charger and Turismo. Carroll Shelby bought 1,000 of the last Chargers and packed them with the Omni GLH's engine and suspension to be sold as Shelby Chargers. The Plymouth Duster name continued on the new Plymouth Sundance line.
For 1983, Carroll Shelby modified the Dodge Charger, to be sold at Dodge dealers as the Dodge Shelby Charger. Rather than focusing on speed, Shelby modified the suspension and styling. The engine compression was raised for 107 hp, and the manual transmission had revised ratios. Shorter springs and special wheels and tires complemented stronger brakes and quicker steering. Outside, a new nose and stripes accented the performance image. Production was 8,251 for that first year.
For 1984, the Shelby Charger had a new red exterior color and automatic transmission option. 7,552 were sold. The high-output engine (now up to 110 hp) was also available in regular Chargers, though it was rare.
The MPFI/turbo Turbo II engine was added for 1985. 7,709 Shelby Chargers were made that year, and 7,669 were produced in 1986. 1987 was the final year, with just 1,011 produced, plus 1,000 more that Shelby modified as the 1987 Shelby GLHS.
For 2006, Dodge will introduce a new rear wheel drive charger based on the Chrysler LX platform like the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Magnum. It will be a sedan with a coupe-like look, and will offer Hemi power. Chrysler has received quite a bit of hate mail regarding the four-door design of this Charger. It is to be built in Brampton, Ontario, Canada.
The base engine (for the Charger SE and SXT) will be Chrysler's 3.5 L V6 which will produce about 250 hp. This version of the car will sell for US$22,995. The Hemi R/T version will use the 5.7 L Hemi V8 and will sell for US$29,995. Dodge expects 60% of Charger buyers to opt for the Hemi-powered R/T model.
In 2005, Dodge announced a new Police Package version of the Charger with upgraded brakes and the Hemi engine.
The 2005 Charger Daytona R/T debuted at the Chicago Auto Show. It features a High Output 350 hp (261 kW) version of the 5.7 L Hemi as well as an updated suspension and tires. Visual additions include a special front fascia with a chin spoiler. In a retro touch, the Daytona R/T features black "Hemi" decals on the hood and rear fender and is only available in two retro colors: "Go Man Go" metallic orange (from the 1970 Charger) and Top Banana yellow. It is priced at $32,495 and 8,000 will be produced for one year only.
An SRT-8 version of the Charger debuted at the 2005 New York International Auto Show. Powered by a 425 hp (317 kW) version of the 6.1 L Hemi, it also features upgraded Brembo brakes, and interior and exterior updates.
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