The Original 1966 Dodge Charger Lives On in the Electric Charger Daytona SRT

The styling of the all-electric Dodge Charger Daytona SRT concept that landed earlier this week speaks for itself. However, in its mission to preview a production model for 2024, the show car shouts some things, while reserving a whisper for others. And integrating the spirit, along with some styling cues, of the original 1966 Dodge Charger, seems like the latter kind of job.

Sure, the thing that instantly hits you when gazing at Mopar’s new electric muscle car (Banshee is the branding for the eMuscle) is the revival of the Coke bottle body introduced by the Gen II Charger that landed for the 1968 model year. Then again, the OG Charger also lends two of its features to the battery-powered concept.

I’m referring to the fastback-style roof, which allows the rear passengers to enjoy more headroom, as well as the four-seats-and-console interior layout that comes with it. Even the rear hatch has returned and so have the foldable rear seats.

In the official presentation of the concept, Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis talks about the car industry being engaged in a new space race. “Not towards the Moon or Mars, but towards electrification,” the head honcho states.

Well, on its first try, Dodge built a Charger that was inspired by the era’s space race. For one, the instrument panel, illumination included, made this obvious.

The Charger: between muscle and personal luxury car

And, this bad boy was conceived not as a muscle machine, but rather as a personal luxury car. The said idea had been attracting buyers since the 1950s, mostly involving coupes based on more mainstream models, with these personal luxury cars favoring luxury over the driving experience.

Alas, while the Charger had a strong start (over 37,000 cars were sold in 1966), that number dropped by about 50% for 1967.

Thus, Dodge went back to the drawing board and came up with the said sportier approach. Sure, the Charger was still larger, more lavish, and more expensive than the Mustang and the Camaro, but it easily rivaled the latter in terms of the dynamic aura. And, also aided by the dramatic 1968 Bullitt motion picture, the reinvented ’68 Charger convinced no less than 96,100 customers.

Naturally, perception and marketing play a massive role in the public’s car-buying decisions. So, while the NASCAR-proven 426 HEMI had also been available in the Gen I Charger, this cash-thirsty motor was a rare option. Many of the buyers were actually paying for an image.

Interestingly, once the 1973 oil crisis put an end to the big-power fun, Dodge brought the Charger back to its initial image of a personal luxury car. As with any other carmaker in America, the stricter efficiency standards and booming insurance rates meant performance was no longer an option.

So, four its 1975MY-born fourth generation (the Gen III wasn’t all that different from the Gen II), the Charger adopted features like rounded headlights reminding one of Rolls-Royce and opera rear windows, while the cabin also reflected the change.

The sales? Almost 30,800 Chargers found homes for the 1975 model year, while that number grew to 65,900 for the 1966MY.

A junkyard-resting 1968 Charger has quite the story

Since we’ve discussed the first-gen Charger in-depth, we’ve brought along a video that zooms in on the personal luxury Mopar even further.

The clip comes from American car journo and builder Steve Magnante, who gives us a tour of a 1966 Charger. It’s all part of the enthusiast’s “Junkyard Crawl” series. And Steve, whose voice you might’ve heard during Barrett-Jackson auctions, diligently prepares this automotive history lesson with info and pictures from old magazines and books.

So, while Dodge has revived the Direct Connection parts/upgrades program (how does an all-carbon body for the ’70 Charger sound?), Steve’s walkaround of the ’68 Charger—the big coupe has seen better days—gives us a closer look at what this program had to offer back in the day.

That funny-looking bulge on the hood of the Charger? Enter the Bauman boundary layer scoop, which owes its particular shape to the necessity of grabbing the fast-moving air that sits well above the body level.

Oh, and if you’ve ever wondered what playing with the wheelbase of the first-generation Charger for drag racing purposes would look like or what came before the Charger Daytona whose name Dodge revive for the battery world, Steve has you covered in this informative ten-minute segment.



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