Greg's List: Dodge Charger
By Greg Warner
The "second generation" 1968 Dodge Chargers were completely redesigned and based again on the mid-sized chassis (or B-Body with 117" wb), all of which were two-door, fastback coupes (the fastback was much toned-down compared to previous models). They, however, retained their signature "blacked-out" front grille with hidden headlamps, but the former mechanical, rotating headlamps were replaced by a vacuum operated, "eyelid" type lamp cover instead. Also, the former body-wide, tail light panel was revised and replaced with a pair of dual round lamps at either end, which were outlined in chrome trim. The doors and hood each contained a pair of racy-looking indents (faux wastegates if you will) with rear facing "tails" or "sweeps" which had the effect of making the car look like it was going fast even as if were standing still. Both front fenders and rear quarter panels were rounded-out and gave a bulbous, muscular look to the whole car. The chromed, racing style, "quick-fill" gas cap was located on the upper rear quarter panel. The new fastback bodies backlight was inset and had a rearward swooping panel that led into the trunk and quarter panel area on each side that bore the resemblance of the trailing-wing or "flying-buttress" styling cues of the day.
The 1968 Dodge Charger started out with a base 318 c.i. V8, 230 hp (rated), 2-bbl. carbureted engine and later in the production year also made available was the venerable 225 c.i. "Slant" 6-cyl. with 1-bbl. carburetor. The 383 c.i. "big-blocks" in both 2-bbl, 290 hp (rated) and 4-bbl, 330 hp (rated) were carried over from the 1967 "first generation" Dodge Chargers and a new "R/T" (for Road/Track) version came standard with a 440 c.i. "Magnum" V8 and a 4-bbl carburetor pushing 375 under-rated hp. Of course, as if that wasn't enough, you could still opt for the awesome 426 c.i. "Hemi" V8 with two-4 bbl. carburetors producing in excess of 425 hp (again under-rated and only a $605.00 option at the time)! Dodge pulled some extra "muscle-power" appeal from their warchest for 1968 "R/T's" and announced the "Scat Pack" option which included heavy duty suspension and brakes and special rear trunk "bumble bee" striping that wrapped around the rearmost area from side-to-side, a double-wide racing stripe outlined by two thinner stripes and a special decal with a muscular looking bumblebee that had a V8 strapped to its back. The Torqueflite "727"automatic transmission came standard and mounted in the floor console with the option of a four-speed manual linked to a "Hurst" shifter.
The 1968 Dodge Chargers had a nearly all new "space-age" looking interior with many new safety features, some federally mandated and others just for sake of innovation. The "cockpit" styled gauges were placed in front of the driver and angled for easy viewing at any speed, a tachometer was optional and the "rallye" styled clock was standard. The sporty looking door panels carried new "map pockets"
(or ticket collectors, as the case may be) and the front seats had safety latches to allow easy access for rear seat passengers and to prevent them from unintentionally folding forward, especially in the case of impact. The ashtray was tucked into the dash for safety and the center of the steering wheel was padded, also for the unfortunate event of an impact. There was a new power window safety "lockout" switch to prevent accidental finger crunching (as well as the ignition having to be turned on for the windows to operate at all). Front seat head-restraints were provided and seat/shoulder belts all the way around (at least at the driver and passenger sides, frt&bk, ctr rear lap only). Instrument padding was extended to cover the knee area of the steel dash for added protection. To help aid rear visibility, a rear-window defogger was added. There were 6 basic interior colors and 17 exterior colors and an optional vinyl top which was ordered on three out of four units.
Some 96,100 dodge Chargers were produced, far more than the estimated 35,000 they thought they would need to build. Of those, only about 470 units were built with the "Hemi" engine option! Wow, no wonder they are such desirable vehicles in today's marketplace. The "Hemi" version was capable of 0-60 in 5.3 seconds and run through the 1/4 mile traps in 13.8 seconds at 105 mph! Not bad for a car that weighed over 4,300 pounds! Man, those were the days, and I for one, am lucky and proud to have grown-up in that era! Dodge stated that "This is no dream car. It's a real 'take-me-home-and-let's stir-things-up-a-bit'
Quiz of the week: What 1968 hit movie included one of the most incredible (even by today's standards) and memorable, automobile chase scenes, involving a menacing "Jewel Black" 1968 Dodge Charger R/T 440 Magnum (driven by the bad guys) and a 1968 "Highland Green" Ford Mustang GT 390 Fastback?
Bonus: This is too easy, but who was the famous driver of the Mustang in the movie? He was also a pretty good race driver, all-around tough guy and stuntman.
Bonus: Steve McQueen
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