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Classic Motor City Muscle Cars presents the history of the Dodge MoPar powered Chargers,Challengers, Coronets?

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Tradition of the Dodge Muscle Cars

Dodge true Muscle car models: Dodge Challenger - Dodge Charger - Dodge Coronet - Dodge Dart - Dodge Daytona and Dodge Super Bee ...all got their roots from the Chrysler 300 and became famous when the Charger and Challenger hit the showrooms. Hemi's still motivates car sales for Dodge.

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Historical summaries of the Dodge Muscle car models. The Dodge Charger was a response to the fastback fad started by the Mustang and the Barracuda, but on a much larger scale. Based on the midsize Dodge Coronet model, the Charger was launced in 1966 and quickly became a sales hit with its dramatic fuselage styling of 1968. From the beginning, it packed serious muscle, from the 318 V8 to the almighty 426 Hemi. Some MOPAR purists insist that the Chrylser 300 Series or "Letter Cars" were the first muscle cars to be made in Detroit. That is debatable as the 300 Series were fast, large, luxury coupes instead of cheap all out intermediate size performance cars. However, there is no denying that the Chrysler 300 Series made performance cool and started the horsepower race among American automobile manufacturers.

But the 1966 Charger also saw the debut of the most famous engine in musclecar history, the 426 Hemi. Although Hemi engines had been available in the 1950s and the 426 Hemi had been available since 1964, 1966 saw the debut of the street Hemi, the first Hemi that the average driver could use on the street. Advertised at 425bhp, it actual put out close to 500bhp (in street tune!) The Hemi added $1,000 to the $3,122 base price of the Charger, resulting in only 468 built out of a 1966 production run of 37,344 Chargers. Maybe that was because the Hemi came only with a 1 year/12,000 mile warranty instead of the standard 5 year/50,000 mile warranty. Performance: 426 Hemi V8 425: 0-60 in 5.3 sec, 1/4 mile in 13.8 sec @ 105mph

1968 saw a dramatic redesign of the Dodge Charger with a new hidden headlight grille, curvy body, recessed backlight, refined tail, and minimal use of chrome. This redesign resulted in a six-fold increase in sales from 1967. Out of the 92,590 Chargers produced for 1968, 17,665 had the R/T package with its standard 440 Magnum engine and "Scat Pack" bumblebee stripes on the rear end. Only a scant 475 came with the all mighty Hemi. The Hemi was strengthened for 1968 with a slightly longer-duration cam, new valve springs, and revisions which reduced oil consumption. It was still under-rated at 425bhp and still remained the engine of choice for serious drag racers.

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Dodge released two special versions of the Charger, in order to better compete in NASCAR racing for top manufacturer bragging rights. The first was the Charger 500, which was basically a 1968 Charger with improved aerodynamics. The Charger 500 had a flush mounted Coronet grille with a flush mounted rear window over the recessed backlight. Although the Charger 500 had some racing success, Dodge engineers felt they could do more. They went back to the wind tunnel and came back with the Dodge Charger Daytona, the most outrageous musclecar of the era. In front, the Daytona sported a pointed 18 inch nose extension which reduced drag and enhanced downforce. Out back, the Daytona added a horizontal tail stabilizer on tall vertical extensions (known as a "wing" in today's lingo). Priced at $4,000, the Daytonas were available with either the 440 or the 426 Hemi and 503 examples were eventually sold.

By 1970 more changes were in stor for Morpar enthusiasts. Performance buffs cheered at the addition of a new engine choice, the 440 Six Pack. Slotted between the 440 Magnum and the Hemi, the 440 Six Pack traded in the 440's 4 barrel carburetor for 3 Holley two barrels, increasing the horsepower from 375 bhp to 390 bhp. The Hemi was also improved, with the addition of hydraulic lifters, instead of solid tappets. Still, rising insurance costs took their toll and only 10,337 R/Ts were sold in 1970. Of these a mere 116 were 440 Six Packs and only 42 were Hemis. Rarest Musclecars are Hemi Convertibles which always gring top dollar from collectors.

"A muscle car, by the strictest definition, is an intermediate sized, performance oriented model, powered by a large V8 engine, at an affordable price. Most  models were based on "regular" production vehicles with a special options package factory installed."

This ranking was developed by comparing muscle cars as measured by different, respected sources, which were then ranked by their respective quarter mile elapsed times. Face it folks ET times ruled the showrooms during the Musclecar era.

Morpars are in the FASTEST MUSCLECARS groupings

# YEAR/MODEL ET/MPH ENGINE HP TRANS GEAR SOURCE
1 1966 427 Cobra 12.20@118 427 8V 425 4-Speed 3.54 CC 11/65
2 1966 Corvette 427 12.8@112 L72 427 425 4-Speed 3.36 CD 11/65
3 1969 Road Runner 12.91@111.8 440 Six BBL 390 4-Speed 4.10 SS 6/69
4 1970 Hemi Cuda 13.10@107.12 426 Hemi 425 4-Speed 3.54 CC 11/69
5 1970 Chevelle SS454 13.12@107.01 454 LS6 450 4-Speed 3.55 CC 11/69
6 1969 Camaro 13.16@110.21 427 ZL1 430 4-Speed 4.10 HC 6/69
7 1968 Corvette 13.30@108 427 6V 435 4-Speed 3.70 HC 5/68
8 1970 Road Runner 13.34@107.5 426 Hemi 425 automatic 4.10 SS 12/69
9 1970 Buick GS Stage I 13.38@105.5 455 Stage I 360 automatic 3.64 MT 1/70
10 1968 Corvette 427 13.41@109.5 L72 427 425 4-Speed 3.55 CD 6/68
11 1969 Charger 500 13.48@109 426 Hemi 425 4-Speed 4.10 HR 2/69

Dodge took its successful Dodge Charger line, and made the ultimate aerodynamic high speed race car. Required to sell 500 copies to the public inorder to race it for NASCAR, Dodge released the Daytona in 1969. Shortly afterwards, Ford introduced its Torino Talladega and the Mercury Cyclone Spoiler which were aerodynamically superior to the Dodges and won on the tracks. The Dodge engineers went back to the drawing boards, and came up with the Daytona, designed to bring NASCAR glory back to the Dodge boys. Bobby Isaac drove a Daytona sponsored by K&K Insurnace to a world record closed-course speed record of 201.104 mph. At the Daytona race that year, Dodge Daytonas swept the top four spots. At Bonneville, Isaac set an unlimited class speed record of 217 mph. And all of this performance was available at your friendly neighborhood Dodge dealer.

GM divisions had been doing it for years, but it wasn't until 1968 that the two MOPAR divisions, Dodge and Plymouth, began to engage in a bit of sibling rivalry. The result was the Dodge Super Bee, a direct competitor to Plymouth's Road Runner. Although a capable budget muscle car, it never was as successful as the Road Runner, which truly must have hurt the Dodge salesmen feelings.

Based on the redesigned Dodge Coronet pillared coupe, Dodge looked to its Scat Pack symbol and released its new model in the spring of 1968 as the Super Bee. The $3,027 base price was $131 more than the Road Runner, which used the same basic chassis. Curb weight was nearly identical, and both used the same engines, so performance was almost identical. The standard engine was the 335 bhp four barrel 383 cid V8 that borrowed cylinder heads, camshaft and induction system from the Magnum 440. The 426 Hemi was the only engine option, but at nearly $1,000 more, it clashed with the budget nature of the Super Bee and only 125 were ordered. The low price meant minimizing ammenities, and although the Super Bee borrowed the Rallye gauge package from the Charger to edge out the Road Runner, a tachometer was still a $38 extra. A heavy duty suspension, brakes, four-speed manual transmission with Hurst Competition Plus shifter, and red-line wide oval tires were standard.

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The Ramcharger system featured two large hood scoops, an underhood air plenum and a switch to select between warm and cold air. But the big news for 1969 was a new optional engine in the Super Bee. MOPAR engineers took the existing 440 cid V8 and replaced the single Carter four barrel carb with three Holley two-barrel carbs on an Edelbrock Hi-Riser manifold, creating the Dodge 440 Six Pack (Plymouth called it the 440+6). Only the center carb was used for normal driving, but slamming on the fun pedal opened all six carbs for a combined 1,375 cfm rush. Hemi valve springs, a hotter cam, magnafluxed connecting rods, and other improvements helped boost output to 390 bhp. A Hurst four speed manual transmission was standard. Torqueflite automatic was optional, but disc brakes, air conditioning, and cruise control were not allowed. The Super Bee Six Pack came with one of the wilder hoods in muscledoom.

Dodge Dart history was "reborn" in 1963 as a true compact car. The Dart lineup would continue to evolve, and included Demon and Swinger models as well as the Dodge Sport and the mighty Dart GTS. 1965 saw a further increase in Dart performance as a 235 bhp version of the 273 engine was offered.

In 1968 Dodge introduced a new GTS trim for its Dodge Dart line to compete against Chevy's Nova SS. The hot GTS was available with either a standard 340 cid V8 with 275 bhp or an optional 383 V8 with 300 bhp. Coupled with its light 3,000 pound curb weight, the Dodge Dart GTS did very well on the street and the track. The 340 was rumored to actually produce over 300 bhp which helps explains the lack of improvement with the heaver 383 engine. Other technical enhancements included a low-restriction exhaust system with chrome tips, Rallye suspension, 14x5.5 inch wheel rims and E70-14 Red Streak tires. A three-on-the-tree manual transmission was standard, though most GTS models were sold with either a four-speed Hurst floor shift manual or a competition-type Torque-Flite automatic transmission. Identifying the GTS were hood power bulges with air vents, body side racing stripes, special GTS emblems, and simulated mag wheel covers. A rear end "bumble bee" stripe was a no cost option. Vinyl bucket seats were standard in the $2,611 hardtop and optional in the $3,383 convertible. Were are those price tags in todays performance car marketplace???


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