Ultra-Survivor: 1966 Dodge Charger

Funny how we see rapid-fire trends in autos. In rapid succession, car manufacturers leaped on a new category of coupes when the fastback was re-introduced and caught onThe ’63 Split-Window Coupe–what else can you say?  Then the ’64 Barracuda was pretty popular. Then the ’65 Rambler Marlin, the ’66 Mustang 2 + 2, our subject car, then the 1968 Torino GT.  In 1965, Dodge dealers wanted something to answer the fastback call but wanted something like a personal luxury coupe with a sporty fastback look.  Chrysler didn’t want a car that competed with its good-selling Barracuda. The ’66 Dodge Charger answered the call for that mix of its dealers’ demands, proving that a personal luxury coupe (think 1959 Cadillac Eldorado as the supreme example) could be sporty as well as luxurious but not flamboyant. Ah ha–a little bigger car to take the clients to the country club than a Mustang, but something that shared Mustang’s je ne sais quis. The beautiful 1966 Dodge Charger pictured above and for sale here on Facebook Marketplace in Northern California, isn’t a show car, but it isn’t exactly a tiny sports car either.   

Rectangles, perfectly symmetrical front and back looks, and clean lines throughout were the elements designer Carl Cameron brought to the original year Charger, with an “electric razor” front grill design and red tail lights that spanned the entire width of the car. Cameron was inspired by the 1949 Series 61 Cadillac two-door coupe’s stretched roofline. The designers started their Charger design with the Dodge Coronet platform. This fastback (with a few alterations and a 426 Hemi engine) was the winner of the 1966 NASCAR Grand National Championship, driven by David Pearson, the year after Chrysler boycotted the 1965 season. Even as a mid-year model introduction, Dodge sold 37,344 Chargers in 1966.  Our subject car is advertised as having one owner since new, 81,000 original miles, and is currently found in Cottonwood, CA just a few miles south of Redding. The pictures don’t show any rust, dents, or major scratches—the seller says it has been parked since 1994 but runs and drives. It is for sale for $18,500 or best offer.

Bummer: There are no engine photos in the posting. FYI, Dodge’s 1966 Charger powerplant offerings were a variety of V-8 options including the 318-2bbl, the 383-4bbl, and the 426 Hemi.  Seller states that this car is equipped with the 318 c.i. 230 h.p. engine and a TorqueFlite transmission.  A handful (468) of cars left the factory equipped with the hemi engine which was an $880 upgrade. Since the Hemi engine became a production item sold to the public, under NASCAR rules Dodge was allowed to use the Hemi engines in its NASCAR race cars. The rush of adrenaline when that occurred, no doubt.  Unique to Charger in the Dodge passenger car line was the interior cabin configuration–the center console stretches from the dash all the way to the rear of the cabin with bucket seats in the rear.  The console and rear seats folded down to allow an expanded seven foot long cargo space when combined with the roomy trunk. These seats may not have been very popular with teenagers using Dad’s car at the time (especially if they couldn’t figure out the folding seat mechanism).

The Charger had four round pods making up the dash instrumentation, not unlike other cars of the day, notably  Pontiac’s Tempest, Lemans and GTO.  The uniqueness about Dodge’s instrument cluster was the use of electro-luminescent backlights to illuminate the gauges from behind.  Pretty innovative stuff.  Hagerty’s #3 Good condition has this Charger pegged at $18,800.

From the exterior photos provided by Seller, this car presents as a well-maintained and perfectly preserved bit of the mid-60s, probably possible by its last 25 years in temperate mid-California. Just a clever design touch where the rear window moldings swoop up to meet the fastback line.  The Facebook posting is sparse but does mention that the paint has faded and that there is a tear in the driver’s seat. There is that Oregon license plate but no explanation. Someone into 60’s Mopar looking for a rock-solid foundation to venture into a Concours ’66 Charger, this looks like a mighty good place to start.  Thank you, Ikey Heyman, for finding us this classic ultra-survivor gem.

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Comments

  1. Rex Kahrs Member

    These cars are really cool, and when seen up close and in-person, they are easy to appreciate.

    The 318 would be just fine for a cruiser, because honestly, how many boomers interested in this car would be doing any stoplight drag racing? Yeah, I’d prefer the 383 4bbl or the Hemi, but this car, as it is, is nice and affordable and super cool.

    Like 24
    • David Bailey

      I had a 383 4 speed it was fast and beautiful.

      Like 3
  2. Poncho

    I don’t know. I think that these early chargers were ugly. I bought a rare TA from a guy who purchased a ’68 Hemi Charger Fast Back that was a one owner car with the #’s matching hemi. Car was low mileage original. I sat in the car and it looked like it car right off the showroom floor (complete with the new car smell). A great investment car at the time i guess, but to my eye it will always be “An Ugly Charger”.

    Like 8
  3. Craig Jennings

    Hey Mike, you forgot about the venerable 361 cu. in. V-8- my aunt bought one of these with that engine. She actually was a car nut and told me once that her husband refused to let her get one of the big engines when they ordered the car because she was too much of a leadfoot! I really enjoy barnfinds… Keep up the good work!

    Like 13
    • Vince H

      The 361 was a pretty good performer.

      Like 3
    • Mike Tarutis Staff

      Craig–I did mention that here were multiple V-8 options and I did leave out the 361. . kind of on purpose. .I haven’t seen one of those, but now I can appreciate that leaving out that option would annoy those that did have one. Interesting that the choice of engine was a leadfoot decision. . .would like to hear more from you about this engine and from others who had this option.

      • TCOPPS TCOPPS Member

        Mine was originally spec’d with the 361. Now holds a 383 4bbl.

  4. 86_Vette_Convertible

    Sweet looking ride. I’ve liked them since they were new.

    Like 6
  5. Car Nut Tacoma

    Awesome looking car. I’ve always loved this generation Dodge Charger.

    Like 5
  6. Dual Jetfire

    It’s a squared off AMC Marlin

    Like 2
    • ADM

      The only good looking year was 1967, when it was on the Ambassador chassis.

  7. Robert Leischer

    Is there a Fee for selling a Car on here? I have a 47 Mercury coup that was Bought in Nevada in 1966 used It as bought new in New York in 1947@ went to Las Vegas that year@ I still have it drove it back to wisc,Parked it in my Basement in 1977, Needs a restoration, wiring rubber moldings ect Engines free, have some paper work from the original owner No rust I moved last year@ the car is in Northern Wisconsin, Never been in snow as long as Ive owned it stored in a pole barn now

    Like 2
  8. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    Take a 66/67 over the other years – 67 being my prfered. Had a chance to buy the old barber shop guys decades ago for $2500 after his passing – always garaged as well. It was that pale yellow and I though I’d just wait for a better one. They are hard to find but that inside is as cool as the outside.

    Like 3
    • Mike Tarutis Staff

      Truth be told, I was in the showroom when my Dad bought a vanilla ’67 Coronet three-on-the-tree and the dealer had the first Charger I saw in the showroom.

      It took a while to get the deal done for Dad, and I spent the whole time ogling that Charger. The driver door opened and I sat in it–no one stopped me.

      I sheepishly went into Dad and said he should look at this car before he makes up his mind. In a break between what car dealers do, he patiently came and looked at the car with me then said “Son, this is a fine car but we’re not rich. That car costs more money than I can afford.”

      Of course, money, rich, afford were words that made little sense to me then but years later when I learned to drive on that ’67 Coronet I was plenty thankful for it.

      Imagine the little boy’s mind when that same car was seen that very year on the NASCAR track competing and winning races.

      Like 2
      • ADM

        All I can picture is a white Coronet 4 door, with a slant six, radio delete, and black wall tires, with dog dish hubcaps. Did your car have any options?

        Like 1
  9. BobinBexley Bob in Bexley Member

    A slice of America.

    • 370zpp 370zpp Member

      Kind of a big slice actually..

      Like 1
      • BobinBexley Bob in Bexley Member

        Yep, many years ago I remember my Pops, who was buds with the local Dodge garage showing up in one in silver, I believe. Guy down the block had a new Marlin in Black with turquoise side inserts. Those were the days.

  10. Rex Kahrs Member

    Spitzer Dodge, Bob?

    Like 1
    • BobinBexley Bob in Bexley Member

      Kempthorn in Canton Rex. Dad was buddies. I’m from Massillon.

  11. Bill McCoskey

    In 1971, one of my college friends drove a 1967 Charger, red with black interior. Oh, and did I mention the drive line? 426 Hemi & 4 speed.

    VERY early one Sunday morning, when all the traffic lights were blinking yellow in the right direction, and after an evening involving a few too many beers, like many young guys, we did something stupid, and decided to drag race our cars right up the center of Silver Spring, MD, on Georgia Avenue.

    He had the Charger, I had my 1957 McCulloch supercharged 289 Packard Clipper [basically a Studebaker], with the Borg-Warner transmission that I had modified to always start in the lower 1st gear instead of 2nd.

    The results? I was pulling ahead after a couple of blocks, when we both spotted the cop car and quickly slowed down. I was ahead because of the automatic transmission, and his rear tires having trouble getting traction, but today I’m sure he would have easily won.

    Like 1
  12. Lee

    Looks good except dash pad seems to have a couple of splits,,where would you find another???

    • TCOPPS TCOPPS Member

      You can’t. I’ve managed to patch mine, while OK for driver quality, I’ve never managed to find an OEM or aftermarket. Would have to find an original. Many people don’t know that the 1966 and 1967 chargers have certain year only parts which are difficult to find and sometimes identify.

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