Despite the assertion of the late Dick Teague, former vice-president of styling at American Motors, that "there has never been a successful big fastback," the 1966 Dodge Charger looked pretty decent -- much better than Teague's own much-maligned Marlin.
In its January 1966 review of the new Dodge Charger fastback. Motor Trend stated flatly, ". . . [E]yeing it from every angle, nowhere could we find evidence of that compromise so evident in some other recently introduced fastbacks. . . . Look at it from where you may, you won't find an ungainly or awkward aspect -- proof of the Charger's superiority in styling."
Details of the new fastback, designated "The Leader of the Dodge Rebellion," were released on December 6, 1965, although the introduction date was the following New Year's Day, a curious choice because the dealerships were closed. Much was made in the press releases of the Charger's being a production version of the Charger II show car that had been touring the auto show circuit for the past year.
Dodge's mid-size Coronet, which was being
redesigned for 1966, was a point of departure for
Charger stylists. But aside from the roofline, the 1966
Charger further separated itself from the Coronet
via details like full-width taillights and open
rear-wheel cutouts, shown here.
Dodge chief designer Bill Brownlie was quoted as saying, "We've retained about 90 percent of the [show] car in the production version." The truth is the production Dodge Charger was created first, then the show car -- a doubtful turnout with exaggerated rear quarters that looked out of balance with the rest of the car.
Although 16 other hues were available, the featured color at the Dodge Charger's introduction was an extra-cost buffed silver-metallic paint. During January 13-16, 1966, Dodge dealers from all over the country were flown into Miami International Airport to participate in the giant "Silver Charger Driveaway," motoring back home in their sleek silver steeds.
At $3,122 to start, the Charger cost $417 more than a V-8 Coronet 500 two-door hardtop, with $125 of that difference supposedly going for the 318-cid V-8 that came standard with the fastback, as opposed to the 273-cid engine in the Coronet. Considering all he was getting, the 1966 Dodge Charger buyer drove out of the showroom in a bargain.
Engine choices that ranged all the way up to the
new 426-cid Hemi could give the 1966
Dodge Charger a decidedly racy feel.
Aside from the distinctive roofline and hidden headlamps, the Charger boasted an unusually complete bag of tricks inside. Early development photographs show that a conventional -- possibly fixed -- rear bench seat and package tray were under consideration, which, in Motor Trend's words "would have made Charger just another fastback."
But in the end, a lot of attention -- and even more money -- was lavished on the "personalized" four-place interior, available in blue, saddle tan, red, white, black, and citron gold.
Under a design team that included Bob Janosko, Rod Lloyd, Dave Long, Jack Eason, Gene Wagner, and Fred Victory, no expense was spared in making this first Charger interior a very special place.
Discover more of the 1966 Dodge Charger's beautiful interior features on the next page.
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