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Original 383: 1966 Dodge Charger

The number of reasons why a restoration project can stall would seem to be infinite. This one would rate amongst the worst because the owner passed away before he could start work on this classic. It is a complete classic with an excellent drivetrain combination, and it now needs the right person to return it to its former glory. I have to say a big thank you to Barn Finder Ikey H for spotting the Charger for us. It is located in Irvington, Alabama, and has been listed for sale here on eBay. Bidding sits at $3,600, but the reserve isn’t met.

It would seem that the Charger has led quite a life because there is evidence visible to suggest that it has undergone at least two color changes at different times. The fender tag indicates that it rolled off the line wearing Medium Blue Poly. This is probably the least of the buyer’s concerns because they will be facing some work before they even consider laying on some fresh paint. The good news is that they won’t be faced with the prospect of significant rust repairs. The original owner made the wise decision to have the car undercoated, and this move is paying dividends today. We’ve all seen these early Chargers riddled with rust, but not this one. The seller doesn’t supply any photos of the vehicle’s underside, but he claims that it is completely clean and rust-free. The exterior wears some large areas of surface corrosion, but once again, there is no penetrating rust. That doesn’t mean that this will be a case of giving it a quick rub down and throwing on a coat of paint because this classic deserves better than that. I believe that it will only be done justice if the existing paint is stripped, and the next owner undertakes a bare metal respray. There are a few minor dings and dents to be addressed, but none of these would seem to justify replacing panels. The fiddly part here is going to be sourcing some of the missing or damaged trim pieces. There is a new front bumper, but the back one is gone. The tail-light lenses are sporting some damage and will probably need to be replaced. A buyer might source a NOS set, but a high-quality reproduction might be the only option available. These sell for about $570, and are impossible to distinguish from the genuine item. There will still be plenty of existing pieces that can be salvaged, and the original tinted glass looks like it could be okay.

Dodge only offered a V8 in the 1966 Charger, but there was a choice of capacities to work through. The original owner slapped down the cash for the 383ci version, which would have pumped out a healthy 325hp. Backing this is a 3-speed TorqueFlite transmission, while the car also comes equipped with power steering. That output figure is very respectable, but it needed to be. The Charger was not a light car, and with the 383 onboard, it tipped the scales at 3,810lbs. With that in mind, the fact that it could demolish the ¼ mile in 15.3 seconds is nothing to sneeze at. If you wanted to top that figure, your only choice was to hand over your “hard-earned” for something like the 426 Hemi. Very few people chose that option because while Dodge sold 37,344 Chargers in that year, a mere 468 buyers ticked the Hemi box on the order sheet. The seller believes that the Charger is a numbers-matching vehicle, and he does say that it is complete. It isn’t clear when it last fired a shot in anger, so it will need some work before it is roadworthy again. The engine will need to be pulled if the engine bay is going to be cleaned and painted in its original color. This will provide an opportunity to inspect the engine thoroughly. It will allow the new owner to determine whether a rebuild will be required or whether it should simply be detailed within an inch of its life. That way, it will appear as-new whenever the hood is lifted.

The Charger’s interior is complete, but it will need to be totally restored. There isn’t a single piece of upholstery that could be salvaged, and the dash will need a new pad. If classic Mopar vehicles have a single weakness when being considered as project cars, it is the cost of interior trim pieces. They tend to be more expensive than you would find if you chose to tackle a GM or a Ford classic. However, this does need to be qualified. The reality is that it doesn’t matter what you are restoring, refurbishing an interior will almost certainly be a one-off expense. If a restored interior is treated with care and respect, it shouldn’t need to be touched again for at least 30-years. That means that by that point in time, the vehicle would more than likely not figure prominently in that person’s life anymore. I’m glad to see that the gauge cluster is intact. I rate this as one of the best of the era. While they look impressive in the light of day, when the electroluminescent lighting is doing its thing, the cluster looks jaw-dropping. The buyer of this car will also benefit from the fact that the original owner chose to order it with air conditioning. The system does look to be complete, although there will almost certainly be some refurbishment required.

Here at Barn Finds, we have become used to the fact that a high percentage of these early Charger project cars that come across our desks will require major rust repairs. That makes this one quite refreshing. It will certainly need some work before a fresh coat of paint is to be applied, but at least this work isn’t going to involve the expense of undertaking wholesale rust repairs. The reality is that many of the tasks that would be required to return the Charger to its former glory could be tackled in a home workshop by a competent person. It’s winter, with long days and even longer nights. A person needs to find something to do when the great outdoors doesn’t look that, er, great. Maybe some time spent in the workshop whipping this 1966 Charger into shape would be a way of beating those winter blues. I can think of worse things to be doing. Plenty of them.


  1. Avatar photo sir_mike

    Best ever body style to wear the Charger nameplate.

    Like 21
  2. Avatar photo JerryDeeWrench

    Looks like a AMC Marlin. probably not as nice ether.

    Like 3
  3. Avatar photo Terry The Tax Man

    Yeah, I agree, about the Rambler comment. I always thought, that Dodge stole the Charger idea from Rambler. I mean, the Marlin did come out first. And if it wasn’t for the different front end, it would look identical. I really like the looks of the Marlin, so I’m not sure why they didn’t take off, but the Charger did? That is, in those first two years. Now, once 68/69 hit, Charger was off the charts with style! Even today, it’s one of the hottest cars on the road!

    Like 2
  4. Avatar photo Husky

    The air leaner comes from a newer engine, perhaps the engine has been swapped???

    Like 1
    • Avatar photo Jack Lattie

      Appears that way & also looks like a 2 barrel air cleaner.

      Like 1
  5. Avatar photo Howard A Member

    Illya Kuryakin ( David McCallum) drove one in the Man from Uncle. It was the 1st time we saw the “new” Dodge Charger. Ambitious restoration, but for a car today that still has some clout, it would be great to have one of the 1st. Funny how the 2 cars have literally nothing in common.

    Like 3
  6. Avatar photo On and On Member

    My best buddy from Chicago just bought a 67 near Superior, Wisconsin. I was up in Hayward and he asked me to take a look at it for him to see if it was worth his drive up. An original California car. NO RUST, I mean none. He booked up a couple days later and bought it for $16k . Needs nearly nothing, maybe brakes, has a rebuilt 318 embellished with 340 heads etc. We went for a drive, awesome. The owner Adam was a great guy, a mover by trade and delivered the car enclosed for ZIP. He showed us his collection, filling 3 garages and a large pole building……..the seller said he’d been collecting cars for a long time and this was the first one he ever sold, and did so to make space for a Chrysler letter car he just bought. I turned him on to Bardfinds as he’s looking for a 30s Packard. Nice folks are out there, with cars to match!

    Like 12
  7. Avatar photo Joe Machado

    Wow, since I first bought a new 66 Charger I have had 5 total. 2-66’s, 3-67’s.
    Again, the most beautiful dash in the world. Tach, standard.
    So, in 68, bought a new Charger RT. Then a used 67 Blue as this is, my wife did not like the wide button in her back from the seat. Only complaint.
    I like 66 more than 67 for a couple reasons.
    The longer console. Wheel cover spinners.
    67, short console and no spinners.
    But, 67 had 4 way flashers, fender mounted turn signals.
    Can anyone confirm if the sheetmetal on 66-67 is thicker than 68 and newer to lighten the cars weight?
    Both 66’s were 361’s. All my 67’s were 383 4 barrels.
    ❤️ These. Even though I have and had 69 Daytona’s, RT’s, I will pay special attention at shows for these.
    These 3 I miss the most: XP29F61230055, XP29G72149218, XP29G72361833. All had air and power windows. Have lots of pictures

    Like 10
  8. Avatar photo HC Member

    I would love to restore this Charger. The fact that there isnt major rust to deal with on this one would be a great start.Never tackled a Mopar before but have done several GMs And Fords.

    Like 3
  9. Avatar photo Lance

    Why is it that there is so little love for these cars? The 66 Charger is the Mopar stepchild. I don’t get it.

    Like 7
    • Avatar photo PRA4SNW

      I hope it stays that way. It gives me hope that some day I can afford to buy one.

      Love these way more than the model that came after it – let the collectors have those.

      Like 4
  10. Avatar photo Bigjohn

    I wouldn’t mind purchasing it but what would be a ball park figure to restore it? I know body work is not cheap but if there is no rust it may be worth it.

    Like 1
  11. Avatar photo gaspumpchas

    The rust under the hood would tell me to inspect the underbelly good. As usual, the seller did himself no favors by not cleaning it. Wonder what the reserve is? Would be great to see this one back on the street. Good luck and stay safe.

    Like 4
  12. Avatar photo Car Nut Tacoma

    Awesome looking Dodge Charger. My favourites have always been the 1966 Charger, and the 1969 Charger.

    Like 1
  13. Avatar photo HC Member

    Barn Finds stated that original buyer opted for getting undercoated so thats a big relief esp for this Mopar. Saved a world of future rust headaches

    Like 4
  14. Avatar photo M.R.

    Had a 67 growing up regret getting rid of it, hey the bumper on the front looks like a back one hence it has no turn signals in it

    Like 1
  15. Avatar photo Vince H

    I had a 65 Studebaker without undercoating. It held up a lot better than those that did. Even here in PA

    Like 1
    • Avatar photo Bill McCoskey Member

      Vince H,
      As someone who has owned & worked on many Studebakers, I can tell you the reason they rusted so badly is because of hidden internal body places that trapped dirt & moisture, especially the front fenders & door bottoms [door drains were mere 1/8″ gaps about 1″ long, that stopped up within a couple of years]. And those places that rusted were never even painted when new.

      late ’60s Mopars had problems with trunk lid seals and rear windows that leaked [or vinyl tops that trapped moisture & caused rust around the rear window]. That led to massive rusted areas in the bottoms of the quarters and under the trunk mat.

      Like 0
  16. Avatar photo Patrick R Daly

    I had a 66 with a 361 4spd.Great car but that was 1968.coulda shoulda bla bla

    Like 0
  17. Avatar photo Maestro1

    I’ve always liked this and the ’68, which I own. Someone save this car. I have no room.

    Like 3
  18. Avatar photo Patrick R Daly

    yep,that’s a rear bumper on the front

    Like 3

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