First Year Street Hemi! 1966 Dodge Charger

Not wanting a badge-engineered copy of Plymouth’s fastback Barracuda, Dodge turned the mid-sized Dodge Coronet into its own swoopy fastback:  the 1966 Charger. The new Charger wasn’t cheap, coming in at $417 more than the top-line Coronet 500, according to HowsStuffWorks. The listing here on eBay claims this 1966 Dodge Charger in Vestal, New York also came with the wallet-busting $1000 king of the hill 426 street Hemi’ V8. While this car’s factory 426 mill is lost in the high-test, leaded gas vapors of history, the feature car comes with a 1966 date-coded Mopar “warranty block” Hemi’, and not just a bare block. Though not currently installed, the relatively complete engine deviates with 1968 intake and carburetors, but makes a better starting point than the empty engine compartment and sack of dreams on most rusty and never-restored second-gen Hemi’ cars. With all due respect, crummy pictures and a lackluster presentation hurt every chance of bringing the Buy It Now price of $45,000. Some finished Hemi’ cars trade under $70,000 these days. You can’t blame the seller for trying; never underestimate the power of Mopar Madness. Thanks to reader Larry D. for spotting this bronze brawler.

My 1966 Coronet and a bazillion other ’60s B-body Mopars shared this storied engine compartment. I wonder how it would go if you sold a 500 HP V8 muscle car today with drum brakes all around and a single non-boosted master cylinder the size of a soup can? Those were simpler times, folks. Note the body-colored engine compartment, a flashy upgrade from the drab black holes of Ford and Chrysler. Despite its current resemblance to decades-old rust, the Saddle Bronze paint will drop jaws when this classic gets its proper reward.

On paper, 425 marked a barrier that auto makers rarely crossed when stating horsepower in the classic muscle car era, and that’s what this dual-quad, hemispherical combustion chambered monster made on paper. In reality, the first-year street Hemi’, an engine literally anyone could order from any dealer, made more like 470 HP or more. Try that out on your 78-series bias-ply tires… without traction control.

Like the Coronet 500, Dodge’s Charger came with plenty of chrome trim and a much nicer interior than your average Dodge. Check out the circular chrome-ringed floor lights in the console side! A shot of the fender tag would be handy, along with various stampings. While we’re at it, a general rule of thumb:  if the whole car isn’t in the picture, back up! If your camera is a phone, turn it 90 degrees and, like magic, you get a more car-shaped view. These tips and 20 minutes with a sponge and some soapy water goes a long ways to netting your asking price. Your gratitude is thanks enough, but I also accept specimens for my collection of US $20 bills.

The Charger’s console extends through the rear seats too, making this stylish hardtop an obligate 2+2. The handy sloping roof leaves plenty of room for rear passengers to access luggage and grab an Orange Crush from your cooler on the fly. Hidden headlights further distinguish the Charger from its Coronet siblings. Interestingly, Dodge fit hidden headlights to some Mexican Coronets, and I considered that idea for my ’66, but never pulled the trigger. With nearly any rusty Mopar muscle car worth $16,000 or more, it might be reasonable to ask double that for a Hemi’ car with an almost-correct engine. It will be interesting to see if anyone ponies up the extra $7,000. Have you seen a Hemi’-powered first-gen Charger in person?


  1. Harry Allen

    It has been several years ago but my younger brother bought (Stole) a numbers matching 426 2X4 4spd. He brought it by for me to see and I was impressed. About 6 months later he brought it by after having it painted and upholstery work done. It went down hill from there. I raised the hood and there was a single 4 bbl then I looked inside and there was a console with a automatic selector protruding from it. the car was a jewel but what iced the cake was his proud answer when I asked what became of the original parts and he said he traded them for some of the paint and body. I sent him packing.

    Like 14
    • 8banger 8banger

      As you should. That’s worse than detuning an LS-6.

      Like 6
  2. Terry

    These are the ugliest Chargers made, 68s were beautiful and it went down from there imo The only thing this has going for it is it comes with a maybe good Hemi. I don’t see 66-67 Chargers, Satellites bring big bucks unless they are pristine.

    Like 8
    • Vince H

      It is a matter of taste I would rather have one of these than the 68-70 Charger.

      Like 11
    • bone

      Have you ever seen an Omni based Charger ?

      Like 3
  3. Riffraff

    Wow, what a steal! Pay $45,000, add $50,000 to replace all of the rust, and have a car worth $30,000. Non numbers matching POS with a hemi tag in the fender. I want what this seller is smoking.

    Like 13
    • Steve Clinton

      Better yet, I want what the buyer is smoking.

  4. John Worden

    Mopar or no car? In this case, no car thank you.

    Like 5
  5. Big C

    I like the Chinese water torture on the right front fender. This car sat for a long time under that roof leak!

    Like 6
  6. bone

    Have you ever seen an Omni based Charger ?

    • Emel

      Really was obnoxious to use the Charger name on that. Almost or equally bad as that Shelby 4 cylinder Dodge Shadow the other day. Yikes !

  7. DON

    Looks like this car was from upstate New York ; whatever stuff they used to salt the roads back then really ate up cars quickly- more than cars here in CT. , which is saying something ! if this is a true Hemi car I’m sure the bidding will be high , but I’ll bet it will end up as a vin swap donor . Some 318 Poly Charger will soon be a gold Hemi Charger

  8. DON

    Looks like this car was from upstate New York ; whatever stuff they used to salt the roads back then really ate up cars quickly- more than cars here in CT. , which is saying something ! if this is a true Hemi car I’m sure the bidding will be high , but I’ll bet it will end up as a vin swap donor . Some 318 Poly Charger will soon be a gold Hemi Charger !

  9. Chasbro

    Wow Riffraff, quit beating around the bush and say what you really think 🤔. You are right though. There just doesn’t seem to be as much interest in first gen chargers. I have a pretty nice one, solid southern body, 383 4/speed, had it since 1980. Only have it insured for 20k. If it was an original 426/ 4speed car, probably would be worth twice that. And if my aunt had nuts, she’d be my uncle. My 66 is way nicer than this one but…. they’re only worth what someone is willing to pay on any given day.

    Like 1
    • Srt8

      In the world we currently live in she could still be your aunt, nuts included.

  10. Richard Member

    As far as an original 66 Hemi Charger, there’s a low mileage one in my home town. It belongs to an ex car dealer and he brings it out to local shows. Most people today don’t even know what they’re looking at. Us old timers appreciate it.

  11. Chasbro

    Srt8, ya got me there, I forgot what year it is, again.

  12. Srt8

    The year I have down, it’s the day that keeps tripping me up.

  13. TCOPPS TCOPPS Member

    This one has a ’67 Dash cluster in it. Similar to one I saw in Iola in 2016

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