After the decline in sales for the '67 model, Dodge needed a new styled Charger. Cheif stylist William Brownlie had the answer in the form of the 1968 Dodge Charger. Featuring stunning, totally fresh styling, the 68 model may well rank as the classiest, sportiest Charger of all. For 1968, Charger sales jumped beyond 96,000 units and compliments went off the scale. Car and Driver gave the Charger top styling honors hands down, with only the 68 Corvette coming close, a somewhat ironic ranking since the two shared similar styling traits. With its Coke bottle body lines, tunneled rear window and dual round taillights, the 68 Charger was especially "Covettesque" from the rear. Or was the Corvette "Chargeresque?" Either way, who cared? Making comparisons between the Charger and Corvette in 1968 certainly didn't bring down the Vette mystique and only served to pump up the Charger image. Helping in the image department as well was the new optional R/T package, announced boldly by the bumblebee stripes added to the Charger's tail. As Car Life reported it, "these cars must really be fast-they almost got past the striper." The observation was almost believable considering the 375-horse 440 Magnum came as standard R/T equipment. So did heavy-duty drum brakes, special handling equipment and F70 Red Streak tires. And for those who wanted all the marbles, the Hemi again lurked in the wings, along with its $1000 asking price. If 13.5 at 105 mph was your speed, that price was certainly fair. As in '67, styling changes for '69 were minimal-a new split grille, wide resytled taillights and rectangular side marker lights (in place of the 68's round units) made up the major eye-catchers. The biggest news for those who turned to Charger more for prestige than performance was the Special Edition package, which featured various image items such as a simulated woodgrain steeribg wheel, leather bucket seat inserts, deep-dish wheelcovers, hood-mounted turn signal indicators and more simulated wood on the dash. For those who preferred their cake both in hand and in mouth, th SE option could be combined with the R/T equipment, resulting in a fancy ride that could be a real brute when it wanted to. Interestingly enough, while all these impressive options were being bandied about, the budget-minded 225 six-cylinder was joining the standard power source ranks. At the other end of the scale, two high-flying variations apperared for 1969 to help stifle thoughts of a frugal Charger. Built to homologate NASCAR competition versions, the street-going Charger 500 and Daytona made their intentions known in no uncertain terms. Created in mid-1968, the Charger 500 came in response to the new sleek Fords and Mercs, which were putting the '68 Charger to shame on the superspeedway. In NASCAR trim, the '68 bodystyle was faster than the '67, but the tunneled backlight and recessed grille still contributed serious drag. Creative Industries, in Detroit, solved the problem, mouting a Coronet grille flush up front and filling in the rear window tunnel with a "fastback" cap. Though the Charger 500 may have looked a bit strange with its sloping backlight and fixed headlights, the design did prove advantageous on NASCAR tracks. In order to get there, Dodge had to build at least 500 examples for public sale-which it almost did-to meet sanctioning body specifications. Behind the Coronet grille, 440 Magnums were standard on the street, with the Hemi again being the real man's choice. As for the Daytona, it represented an escalation in the aero wars after Ford unleashed the Talladega and Cyclone Spoiler to do battle with the Charger 500. Once the 500 was bettered by FoMoCo's wind-cheaters, Dodge designers went back to the drawing board and returned in late 1969 with the "winged wonder." While retaining the 500's flush backlight, the Daytona's legendary features also included a sloped nose that instantly transformed the Charger into a 200-mph NASCAR dominator. As usual, 500 street versions were required; Dodge complied with 503, 433 with the standard Magnum, 70 with the Hemi. On the track, the Daytona instantly became the clear favorite, running away on all stock car circuits to the tune of 82 wins. But within a year, the Daytona, along with all its exotic rivals, would be banned by NASCAR, victims of sanctioning officials' sense of fair play. While there was a 500 model in 1970, it constituted nothing more than a badge pasted on a standard Charger. Basically a carryover again, the '70 Charger could be identified by its new full-width grille and bright taillight trim. R/T and SE packages carried over as well, as did the ever-present Hemi. For horsepower hounds, the really big news was the addition of the 440 Six Pack to the options list. With 390 real horses, the tri-carb 440 easily ran with the Hemi for a lot less money. Though most didn't realize it at the time, 1970 represented a pinnacle, both for the Charger and the musclecar market as a whole. Times demanded a change, and a restyled Charger wasn't the only response. 1971 was the start of the third generation of Chargers.
Please note that the following article was taken from the
Feb 91 issue of Mopar Muscle.