Donut Media’s Up To Speed series is a lot like being read a Wikipedia page at full volume. That may sound abrasive, but the videos are nevertheless highly enjoyable. James Pumphrey (who recently had a major health scare) seems to have a knack for getting us to come back for more information, told loudly. So for the latest episode, Up To Speed covers the Dodge Charger – the only four-door muscle car on the market today, which is currently dominating the full-size sedan market segment when it comes to sales, horsepower, and attitude.
This episode is a full 20 minutes long, so be sure to buckle in. As with the format, Pumphery opens up at the beginning of the timeline – where the Dodge Charger was a roofless concept car based on a 1964 Dodge Polara. The mission of the original Charger was to impress those that would otherwise be shopping for a Ford Mustang. But seeing as it was a roofless concept car, it was never destined for the assembly line. Instead, in 1965, a “Charger” trim level was introduced on the Dodge Dart GT. Under the hood was a 275 horsepower, 273 cubic-inch “Charger” V8 engine. The 1965 Dodge Dart GT Charger was available in one color: Pale Yellow. But considering the highly limited production volume of just 150 units, these oddly-colored Mopar muscle cars remain highly collectable today. Even so, a low volume trim level was not enough to compete with the Ford Mustang.
In that same year, Chrysler rolled out the Plymouth Barracuda – which was the original Mustang rival. The ‘Cuda also produced some infighting, with Dodge dealers crying foul that Plymouth got a pony car and they didn’t. Detroit in the sixties, man.
So in 1966, the original Dodge Charger rolled off the assembly line; a fastback based off the similarly-sized Coronet. Not only was it available with the iconic 426 Hemi V8 engine, but it also delivered a segment-exclusive roll-out headlight which retracted when they were not in use to maintain an unbroken front grille design. Needless to say, the original Charger was very cool.
We don’t want to spoil the rest of the history lesson for you, so give the video below a peek, and lather up in that Mopar muscle marinade.