by Robert Tate
On New Year’s Day of 1966, the original Dodge Charger made its debut as the “Leader of the Dodge Rebellion”. It was an instant hit among the buying public. However, it was the Dodge Charger II prototype that was displayed earlier to crowds in Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Tampa that generated a multitude of Charger fans. The Dodge Charger II show car was not only displayed to highlight the styling and engineering, but also to determine reactions from the buying public on such a unique model design.
Many of the experimental car features on the Dodge Charger were retained
in the production model. Every style line in the metal and glass had
been smoothly blended to provide the Dodge Charger with a forward
thrusting look and a low silhouette. From the sweptback roofline and
full width tail lights to the tapering forward side sculpturing and
scoop effect of the frontal area styling. The Dodge Charger was a car
designed for the “go generation” and was introduced at a time when
Americans wanted high performance and sporty styling automobiles. The
Dodge Charger was one of the vehicle models credited as a trendsetter.
The two door hardtop model featured a roomy plush interior with four
individual bucket seats and a full length console. The Dodge Charger
offered revolving headlights that would disappear when not in use and
were integrated with a unique one piece grille design.
The front end of
the Dodge Charger model, including its hood, grille and bumper, were
designed to imply a ventured effect. The vertical rear fenders and wrap
around bumpers were designed to center attention on the full width tail
lights, which were trimmed in zinc die cast with bright perimeter
molding. The rear window design offered a streamlined theme that curved
upward at the outer ends in a gull wing fashion design.
On September 5, 2006, the automotive world mourned the passing of my
good friend and mentor Mr. Carl Cameron. Mr. Cameron spent many years
with the Chrysler Corporation and was responsible for the designs of the
1966/67 Charger automobile and 1970 Dodge Challenger. Mr. Cameron
always had interesting and fascinating stories along with happy memories
of the glory days at Chrysler. Carl Cameron was 81 years old when he
passed away and he will continually be remembered for not only his
design of the 1966/67 Dodge Charger model, but also as the man who
inspired many individuals in such a positive way.
Content courtesy of MotorCities National Heritage Area. A special thanks to Robert Tate, Automotive Historian and Researcher,
for donating his story to the MotorCities Story of the Week program.
Dodge Charger Photos are courtesy of Robert Tate.