From a low of 62 hp to a high of 707, the generations of Dodge Charger have been the stuff of legend with their own peculiar curiosities. While the Charger hasn't always been the muscle car standard from year to year, when the folks at Dodge hit the sweet spot, they made a lot of fans happy. Some say that the Charger launched from the Coronet and certainly Charger sales took off when the last Coronets were sold, but others say the Charger was a product of its time, original and inspiring.
Was the Dodge Charger an offspring or a descendant of another car line?
The mid-to-late 60s when the Dodge Charger was gaining traction was a time when the existing Coronet line was moved from a postwar full-sized car coming into the 1950s to an intermediate-sized car sharing the Chrysler B Platform with the Charger in the 1960s. Based on pages of Hemi-powered land speed records from the Bonneville Salt Flats in the 1950s, the Coronet definitely provided a spiritual parentage to the Charger and continued on its own track into the mid-1970s.
What was the first generation Charger like? How did it catch on with fans?
The first generation on its own only lasted two years: 1966-67, offering a 318 V-8 and a three-speed shifter on the Chrysler B Platform. It wasn't a big hit, but someone in the company believed in the Charger's potential since it received a redesign which got the Charger name rolling.
How did the second generation evolve from the first? Why did this generation end with the famous 1970 Charger?
The second generation focused on cosmetic changes for the Charger, inside and out. The Charger wasn't making heads turn on racing circuits, but the 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona received a more aerodynamic design. Where heads did turn was when the second generation was used in a Steve McQueen movie, Bullitt, and many other productions even into the 21st century. Emissions and safety regulations played an important part in bringing another generation of Charger to the market.
How did the third generation jazz up the looks for the 1970s? What else developed?
The next several years were generation three, 1971-74, with grill, rear window, and spoiler styling changes. They weren't major changes, but a third generation sales bump came from the end of the Coronet line and buyers switching to the Charger to get the two-door style they wanted.
What happened to the fourth generation? Suddenly it's a luxury car? And how did it fare during the gas crisis of the 1970s? Did that affect the design?
The Charger generation four was restyled to flow into the "personal luxury car" market, still on the B body platform but with a very different look. The mid-70s gas crisis didn't give this model much of a chance, and that was temporarily the end of the Charger line.
Explain the "Omni O24" Charger and the 64 horsepower engine in the 1980s, generation five.
In the early 1980s, the Charger was reborn as an economy car with sporty styling. Some models from 1979 through 1983 were called "Omni O24," but the company refocused on the Charger name, though with the base model a 5-speed manual with a 1.6-liter, 4-cylinder 62 horsepower engine. More engine and transmission options became available during this time, including a Shelby Charger in 1983, but not too many remain.
Welcome back to the sixth generation Charger. How did this rebirth come about?
In 2006, Dodge returned to the Charger line, using the Chrysler 300 platform as a starter. They put effort into creating a new Charger styling and paid homage to the 1970s Super Bee models in a 2009 edition. They also offered several 400-plus horsepower engines plus an eight-speed automatic transmission and other performance engineering work.
How does the future look for the seventh generation Charger? Why so many engine choices?
The sixth generation was much more than the two- and three-year runs of the early years, and in 2015 the seventh generation began. It started with a design and power update which brought attractive, aggressive new models to the street. These new Chargers are outfitted with infotainment systems, Wi-Fi, heated seats and voice texting. They include adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warnings, rain-sensing wipers, and other safety and driver assist features. The line has also scaled up to the Charger SRT Hellcat, with a 707 horsepower engine.