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Donut Media Gives Us A Quick History Lesson

Dodge Charger 1968 1969 Mopar Muscle Car
Image copyright Manoli Katakis, Muscle Cars & Trucks

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.

Written by Manoli Katakis

Muscle Cars & Trucks was founded by Manoli Katakis - an automotive media veteran that has been covering the latest car news since 2009. His journalism has uncovered dozens of major product changes, updates, plans, and cancellations long before automakers were ready to make things official.

Some highlights over the years of his reporting include the uncovering of the Zora trademark before anybody else reported on the coming of a mid-engine Corvette, as well as the dead-accurate reporting of the coming of the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2, two years before it hit the market, and even before the debut of the concept vehicle. This type of reporting has immediately continued here, with reports of the original seventh-generation Camaro plans being shelved, as well as what's in store for the Chevrolet Silverado.

Some of his work can be found on massive automotive media outlets, such as Motor1. He also has been a guest on the 910AM Radio Station with Detroit News auto critic Henry Payne, as well as the enthusiast-oriented Camaro Show podcast.

Over the years, Manoli has interviewed various automotive industry titans, leaders, and people that make things happen otherwise. These include figureheads such as GM CEO Mary Barra, GM President Mark Reuss, automotive aftermarket icon Ken Lingenfelter, Dodge firebrand Tim Kuniskis, along with various chief engineers of vehicles such as the Ford F-150 & Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro & Corvette, and many more.

At MC&T, Manoli is taking his journalism expertise, deeply planted sources, driving abilities, and automotive industry knowledge to new levels, covering more vehicles and brands than ever before. This is the place where you will continue to read groundbreaking stories about American performance vehicles, pickup trucks, and sport utility vehicles. Here is where you’ll also read insights and quotes from various automotive subject matter experts on the latest relevant products, as well as some of the latest official news from their manufacturers.

Fun facts: he also once beat Corvette Racing driver Tommy Milner in an autocross with a Chevrolet Bolt EV. The biggest vehicle he’s ever driven is a John Deere mining truck. Besides a go-kart, the smallest vehicle he’s driven has been a Hyundai i10. He’s also spent time in the cockpit of various American performance vehicle icons, including the fifth-generation Chevrolet Camaro Z/28, Dodge Challenger Demon, and Ford Mustang GT350R. He has reviewed dozens of trucks, SUVs, and performance vehicles over the years.

One of his favorite new vehicles on the market today happens to be the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison. He is also a card carrying member of the Sports Car Club of America, and regularly participates in Detroit Region autocross events.

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