Posts Tagged ‘Plymouth’

1966- The Dodge Charger Is Born

February 13, 2011

 The Plymouth Barracuda with its 273 cubic inch V8 was the Mopar answer to the Ford Mustang.  And technically it was the answer before anyone asked the question, since it came out 2 weeks before the Mustang.  But unlike the Mustang it did not come in coupe, convertible and fastback styles.  Only a fastback was used.  That combined with what was considered a less than attractive fastback body did not help it achieve domination in the area of sales.

It was of course based on the Valiant chassis and as such had limited choices as far as available power.  The Dodge division also wanted a fastback Muscle Car of their own, but Plymouth would not allow them to have one based on the Valiant/Dart chassis because it would be competing with the Barracuda.

The Belvedere for 1966 got fresh sheet metal and the big news was that the 426 Hemi engine had been tamed for street duty and was now available for purchase as an option.  The previous engines used in limited production and full size cars was now suitable for everyday use by anyone who wanted one.

The top of the Belvedere line was the Satellite and it got the Hemi as an option as well.  The 426 with its rated 425 horsepower was the most in a production engine for the 1966 model year.  And it was considered about 50 horsepower underrated.

During the Muscle Car Era this was a common occurrence due to manufacturers wanting to downplay their advantages over one another.  And to keep the watchful eye of Washington regulators off of them as well.  Car manufacturers were not supposed to be involved directly with racing and while GM did a good job of honoring the rule, Ford and Chrysler were still supplying engines and parts to NASCAR race teams as well as other venues such as SCCA.

The Dodge Coronet was the choice for its sponsored teams running NASCAR, but that was to change with the introduction of their newest model.  The new model was the Charger and it was based on the midsize Coronet platform and since the Hemi was available for the Coronet, it was available as an option in the Charger as well.

The Charger had a similar style to the AMC Marlin, but although the Marlin was a new model for 1965, the 1966 Charger was the first Muscle Car created as an actual Muscle Car.  Every previous model in Detroit had been either an option for an existing model or was already a model being produced.  The Marlin was a new model, but lacked the big block engine to claim itself a legitimate Muscle Car.  The Charger was created with the 318 as a base engine and then you could get a 383 big block or the new 1966 street Hemi 426.

While Dodge wanted a competitor for the Mustang, they had went to the far side of the scale and came up with a vehicle that was going to stake a serious claim as the King of Muscle.  The interior offered such options as a full length console which essentially gave you four bucket seats in the interior.  The rear armrest shown was an option and what you see is the “Deluxe” vinyl seating option here.

 The 426 Hemi gave new meaning to the term “big block” as it was the heaviest engine produced at the time or even since as far as gasoline engines are concerned.  The lightest engine was the Ford 427 which tipped the scales at around 650 pounds.  The Chevrolet big block rang up about 685 as a 396 engine.  And the 426 Hemi was overkill at an amazing 843 pounds.  It was called the “elephant” motor not just because of its weight but its size.  The heads were the widest ever seen due to the dual set of rockers for the valvetrain.  And the trademark giveaway and what makes it a hemi; the spark plugs are in the middle of the valve cover as you see in the photo.

Some of the styling similarity with the Marlin can be seen from the rear view of the Charger here.  The full width tail light lens had the “CHARGER” name across the full width lest someone think it was something else.

  The front view however would never remind anyone of the AMC Marlin or any other car.  Not even the Coronet that shared the underneath could match the Charger in the style department.  The grill look has been called the “electric shaver” grill.  Kind of looks like an older model Remington doesn’t it?

  Well, that’s the deal with the 1966 models.  See you soon for more.

 Davey Boy


Labor Day Approaching and Auction Season Kicking In

August 29, 2010

Here’s an “economy” car for those who favor European performance.  Okay that would be a stretch, but what we have here is a 1961 Vespa 400.  Nice little car you won’t find too many of at your next car show.  You may know of Vespa as the “moped” people and you are correct, but they made cars at one time also.  I do not know if they still do… guess would be no because I never see them tooling the highway but then a lot of European manufacturers do not export cars to the United States, so I cannot be certain.

It was one of the cars that had the soft roll-back top which gave the effect of being a convertible, without losing the chassis rigidity from not having a solid roof.  At least that was the line car makers used back in the days.

As you can see in the third picture it was called a 400 because it used a 400 cc engine.  The generator is almost as big as the motor, and you can clearly see the “massive” fuel tank sitting beside the engine on the left hand side. This vehicle will be at the Mecum Auction in St. Charles, Illinois that runs September 16th through the 19th.  It is held at the Pheasant Run Resort.  It is the Largest annual auction in the Chicagoland area and they expect over 1000 cars this year.

There must be a lot of people thinking the bottom of the market for these collector cars has been reached because some highly significant cars are coming up for auction.  This is 1 of only 475 R/T Chargers built with the 426 hemi engine in 1968.  And it is a rare Silver color on top of that.

While the hemi’s draw the attention and the big money, I prefer the 440 such as this 1969 Charger has under the hood.  One of the vehicles getting rarer every year as a lot of these 1969’s keep getting cloned into “General Lee” editions every year.  Either way you prefer your Mopar they will have a lot of them at St. Charles.

One of the sweetest rides would be this 1970 Dodge Challenger convertible.  It may only have a 340 under the hood, but top down cruising more than makes up for the engine displacement.  The Challengers will appreciate slightly ahead of the curve in future years I feel because they are valued less than their flashier twin the ‘Cuda/Barracuda from Plymouth.  The Challenger rode on a wheelbase that was 2 inches longer than the ‘Cuda.

The “Go Go Green” car is the 1970 Dodge Dart Swinger with a 360 motor and if the 340 equipped Challenger is too tame for you, this little beast will fit you better.  The older style 1968 Dart with the 426 Hemi is still setting Drag Strip records 42 years later.  It is a shame the factory only produced 50 of them.

The compact Dart was the direct competitor to the Chevrolet Nova, but unlike the Nova, the Dart used a full frame beneath it.  From a performance standpoint, the Dart could handle double the horsepower that the Nova could without major chassis modifications.

The major knock with Mopars during the late 60’s and early 70’s was their use of attention-getting paint colors.  It was hard to blend into the crowd with a bright green or a pink car.  And if running the city streets was your thing back then, the attention from “Johnny Law” was something you did not want.

Then we come to a 1971 Plymouth ‘Cuda equipped with a 340 engine.  The blacked out “patches” on the rear quarters were called “billboards” and they gave the engine size for people to see when you drove by.  The 340 was the lowest number used in “billboards” as the factory saw no reason to advertise the base 318.  But above the 340, there was 360, 383, 440, 440-6 (which designated the 6-pack carb set up), and of course HEMI which would be the most feared engine you could put in a Mopar.

Well, besides these few Mopars shown here there is another 20 pages on the Mecum web site to check out if you feel so inclined.  And they have a lot of Chevrolet, Ford, Pontiac, AMC, and on and on.  This sale specializes in Muscle Cars and nobody does it as well as Mecum.  You can check out their web site at

My advise is to be sure and sign up for their infonet service so you can get auction notifications and check out past auctions with pricing information.

Later my friends….. follow me on Twitter…. i am….. dwayne1957

davey boy

Major Screwup On My Part

May 22, 2010

Okay, Okay…..I admit it.  I dropped the ball.  My personal dream car for all these Muscle Cars that I promote and follow and rant and rave about is the 1971 Plymouth GTX.  Not with a 440 six-pack or with a hemi 426 but just a reliable 440 with a four barrel.  I want to actually be able to drive the thing and keep it running.  The four barrel carb is best suited for such things and provides massive amounts of power.  Add the fact that the 1971 is the first year of a rounded contour body style and WAS the ultimate Plymouth Muscle Car, and you see why I am a fan of it.  Save the B.S. because I know a Hemi Cuda is worth tons more.  And God save the second mortgage if it has a convertible top on it, but those cars would make me a nervous wreck just parking it in a shopping center lot for a local car show.  And despite what people tell you a Cuda cannot “hook” up like a long wheelbase car can when you really want to get serious about racing.

Anyway, the screw up on my part was in my assuming the car being auctioned at the Mecum Indy Auction would go for around $40,000 since they are usually sold for figures well North of that.

Instead, the powers that be made someone a very happy individual who purchased this particular vehicle for $19,500.

That would put it on par for cost with the “normal” price point of a 1967 or 1968 Mustang.  Granted a Mustang in pretty good shape but they made hundreds of thousands of Mustangs those years. 

And no Mustang had the street cred of the GTX unless you start talking Boss or the name Shelby.

There are some thing that may have contributed to the fact that this particular vehicle went for such a “low” price.  Obviously the main reason would be the right buyer was not in attendance.

Then there’s the fact that whomever was selling this car made it a “NO RESERVE” sale which means that it was being sold no matter what the final bid was.

And obviously it was not the only Mopar being sold.  There were many Hemi and 440 6-Pack vehicles being sold at the auction.  These tend to draw the attention.

And finally there was the interior that the GTX had in it.

While it is a very clean looking and newer interior, I am not sure it would be the correct “original” interior.  And while cool to look at, it might tend to get a little bit “gaudy” for the owners personal tastes after a while.  Still, the vehicle had the fender tag so finding the correct color and texture interior would not have been an issue for a collector other than maybe the time involved.  After all the interior vinyl would run maybe $1,200-1600 and at a price of under $20,000 someone could easily justify putting a couple grand into the vehicle to make it original.

So, anyway, I screwed up and will continue on my quest to look at Muscle Cars and work towards my goal of building an “Empire” one day. And the missed opportunity here will just be motivational fuel to be used with future encounters of other missed opportunities.  These combined will keep the fire alive within me.

Davey Boy