Welcome to Made in the USA Week. This week we’re going to look at some of the great classic and muscle cars along with manufacturers right here in America. Today we take a look at Dodge.
When two brothers produced their first car in 1914, they had no way of knowing it would mark the start of a century-long automobile-building legacy. The Dodge brand became the cornerstone of the Chrysler Corporation’s brand hierarchy, providing buyers with well-engineered yet affordable vehicles. The company’s reputation earned it a lasting following among ordinary car buyers and enthusiasts alike.
Some of the company’s greatest and most revolutionary products include the Dodge Ram pickup, the Dodge Caravan minivan and the Dodge Viper roadster. Dodge was also hot during the muscle car era of the 1960s and 1970s, especially with excellent hits like the Charger and Challenger.
The Dodge Challenger first appeared on the scene as a companion to the successful Plymouth Barracuda. To differentiate itself from the Plymouth pony car, the Challenger used a 110-inch wheelbase instead of the Barracuda’s 108-inch wheelbase. Available in base, SE and R/T trims, the Challenger offered a dizzying array of optional features, a rainbow of bright colors (including Lime Light and Lemon Twist) and nine different engines, ranging from the reliable Slant Six to the 340 and 440 cubic-inch “Six-Pack”
The first generation Challenger (1970-1974) is the most fondly remembered of the series, as the second generation model (1978-1983) was based on a Japanese import and offered only two four-cylinder engines. In 2008, the nameplate was revived based on the retro remake of the first-generation Challenger. Thanks to the addition of the powerful Pentastar V6 and HEMI V8 engines, the current Challenger offers performance that leaves the old versions standing still.
The Dodge Charger is yet another nameplate that got a second lease on life during the late 2000s. The Charger started out as a fastback version of the Coronet in 1966, but it wasn’t until 1968 that the second-generation Charger stood apart from the rest of the pack. The Charger’s shapely coke-bottle figure, menacing grille, hidden headlights and rakish hardtop roof with a tunneled rear window made it one-of-a-kind. It also helped that the Charger had a plethora of burly engines available.
The succeeding models proved lackluster, with the Charger name finding itself of an economy sports car before its initial demise in 1987. The current Charger debuted as a four-door in 2006, to the shock of enthusiasts everywhere. Nevertheless, the new Charger made up for those added extras by offering a very healthy 5.7-liter HEMI V8 and a beefy 6.1-liter HEMI in the Charger SRT8.
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