Dodge Charger | Get to Know This Muscle Car

With its menacing grill and fastback curves, the Dodge Charger is a true muscle car if we ever saw one. You can practically hear the rumble of the engine just by looking at it.

A Hollywood icon with heaps of street cred, Chargers are classic cars that collectors go crazy for. And with good reason!

Here, we’re getting to know a bit more about the Dodge Charger, some of its history and how it solidified itself as a pop culture icon.

Dodge Charger grill

About the Dodge Charger

The Dodge Charger was originally a show car made by Dodge in 1964. However, this concept car soon turned into a classic that hit the road in 1966.

The muscle car was built in various models, from four-doors to hatchbacks, but the two-door muscle car version is the most iconic.

Now in its seventh generation, the Dodge Charger remains a popular classic car and is undoubtedly one of our favourites here at Classics for a Cause.

Especially the models from the 60s and 70s when fast cars were all the rage, the Charger certainly made its mark.

History of the Dodge Charger

The first-generation Dodge Charger was released in 1966 based on the Dodge Coronet’s base. Its most recognisable features include the fastback roof, full-length centre console and prominent grill. 

Although somewhat late to the party compared to other classic cars like the Ford Mustang, the original Charger certainly turned some heads.

In fact, it’s probably the second-generation 1968 Dodge Charger that comes to mind when you think of this legendary muscle car. Specifically, it had a menacing grill that still sends shivers down the spine. The raring engine of this truly masculine car is something magical.

In the early 70s, the third-generation Dodge Charger emerged on the scene and symbolised the end of an era.

As with most classic cars of the 60s and 70s, bans on the production of high-speed cars made the 80s and 90s far less exciting in terms of metal and power. 

Not to mention, petrol prices in the 70s were through the roof and made owning a classic car less than desirable for many consumers.

The Chargers built from 1971 to 1974 featured the iconic split grill that, although less menacing perhaps, was no less cool. It truly brought these Dodge cars into 70s style.

To be honest, classic car enthusiasts often fight over whether the second- or third-generation Dodge Charger is the true winner in terms of status.

By the late 70s, Dodge was positioning the Charger as more of a luxury car versus a muscle car which, frankly, wasn’t working.

From the 80s onwards, the Dodge Charger no longer held the same iconic status as its predecessors from the 60s and early 70s – as the story goes with most mid-century automobiles. 

And although the Charger was officially retired in 1987, its namesake did make a return in 2006 to give dealers a sedan to go along with the new Dodge Magnum, with a prominent grill and curvy aesthetic. 

So, now, it seems the Charger is back. But alas, nothing compares to the first-, second- and third- generations of the car. Such beauts!

Dodge Charger in Pop Culture

The Dodge Charger is considered one of Hollywood’s favourite muscle cars which is evident in the countless blockbuster films and popular TV shows in which it’s been featured. Let’s go through a timeline of some of its most memorable on-screen appearances. 

Bullitt Poster

1968 – “Bullitt”

“Bullitt” is an Academy Award-winning film from 1968 based on a 1963 novel called Mute Witness.

Critically acclaimed and a box office smash, “Bullitt” even made its way into the US Library of Congress – it was that pivotal to modern culture. 

While the lead character played by Steve McQueen (AKA the “King of Cool”) drives a Ford Mustang, the two hitmen who are after him drive a Dodge Charger. Again, with that menacing grill, it makes sense that this car was just as often a foe as it was a friend.

Ironically, the film makes its way to Brisbane… California. But hey! We can make the connection, right?! 

1974 – “Dirty Mary Crazy Larry”

Most would know of Jane Fonda. But in fact, her brother Peter Fonda starred in “Dirty Mary Crazy Larry” in 1974 which featured a 1969 Dodge Charger R/T 440. The film is essentially one big car chase, led by NASCAR hopefuls and a one-night stand that lasted into the morning.

“Dirty Mary Crazy Larry” was based on the 1963 novel called The Chase. It was one of the first examples of then-new muscle cars becoming part of pop culture. And films like “Dirty Mary Crazy Larry” solidified cars like the Dodge Charger into Hollywood royalty.

1976 – “Cannonball”

While most of the films featuring the Dodge Charger are all about high-speed chases or some sort of action thriller, “Cannonball” is actually a comedy film from 1976. 

Still, it does follow a plot involving jail time, murder and car racing, but we can rest on the fact that it’s still a comedy – certainly a different approach. Do all car movies really need to be so serious all the time?

Featuring a 1968 Dodge Charger as well as other muscle car classics like a 1969 Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Corvette and Pontiac Trans Am, “Cannonball” is a car junkie film for the ages.

1979 – “The Dukes of Hazzard” (TV Series)

Arguably the most iconic Dodge Charger in pop culture history, the 1969 Dodge Charger named General Lee in “The Dukes of Hazzard” TV series was the beloved car of brothers Bo and Luke Dukes. 

The brothers built the car as a racecar, painted red with the number 01 on either side. With the doors sealed shut, the brothers had to jump in through the windows which became an integral part of the show. 

General Lee became an instant sensation and the Charger was solidified in pop culture forever. The car was fast and could jump long distances and made bloody good TV!

Long after the show was cancelled in the 80s, a popular film version of “The Dukes of Hazzard” was released in 2005, also featuring a red Dodge Charger as General Lee.

1998 – “Blade”

What’s a superhero without a sweet ride?! “Blade”, the Marvel superhero film featuring Wesley Snipes from the 90s, received mixed reviews in its time but became a cult classic in its own right with two sequels following the original.

Stealing the show was the character’s 1968 Dodge Charger – all black, all cool and used in all three “Blade” franchise films. So, if you love superheroes and classic cars, this one’s a real winner.

2001 – “The Fast and the Furious”

Surprise, surprise – you didn’t think we could talk about the pop culture of a muscle car like the Dodge Charger without mentioning the Fast and Furious franchise, could you?!

The very first film of the long series of movies, “The Fast and the Furious” premiered in 2001 and none other than a black 1970 Dodge Charger R/T makes a huge appearance. 

While you can certainly find a Charger in pretty much all of the Fast and Furious movies (of which there are 10 and counting), a few of our favourite models from the films include a 1968 Dodge Charger Daytona in “Fast Five” and a 1968 Twin Turbo Dodge Chare in “Furious 7”.

2007 – “Death Proof”

If you’ve seen any of Quentin Tarantino’s films, you’d know that they’re pretty gruesome. “Death Proof” is no different. But, this time, he uses classic cars to instil horror and panic into the hearts of viewers. 

“Death Proof” features both a 1969 Dodge Charger and a 1971 Dodge Challenger which become part of a crazed stuntman’s mission to murder young women with cars. Yep, pretty horrific but again, that’s Tarantino for you…

Dodge Charger – Fun Facts

  • The 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona dominated NASCAR racing but was later banned from competing after proving so effective, putting a massive halt to American racecar development in the 70s.
  • It wasn’t until the second-generation Dodge Charger was released in 1968 that this classic car became a huge hit with consumers. 
  • “The Dukes of Hazzard” television show which aired from 1979 to 1985 made the Dodge Charger famous with a red car called General Lee becoming the star of the show.
  • The Dodge Charger was the world’s first four-door muscle car and continues to be the only four-door muscle car model in existence.

At Classics for a Cause, we’ve done two giveaways with Dodge Chargers, one with a 1968 Dodge Charger and another with a 1969 Dodge Charger 440 Coupe. Long story short, these are just some of the muscle cars we give away to support Australian veterans.

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