The automobile shown in this article is a 1971 Dodge Charger. There were three versions of Dodge Chargers introduced. The 1971 Dodge Charger shown here was manufactured on a B-Body. These were built from 1966 to 1978. During the model years 1983 to 1987 the Chargers were built on an L-Body. The full sized four door models have been built since 2006 to the present.
For a variety of reasons the Dodge Charger has been classified by many as a "performance car". During the first series, 1966-1978, the Charger was one of the best looking muscle cars available.The Dodge Charger generations were classified as the first generation being the 1966 and 1967 model years. The second generation Chargers were the 1968 to 1970 model years. The third generation would be 1971 through 1974 of which the car shown here is among..
The sales and acceptance of these first Dodge Chargers were so good that Chrysler Corporation hesitated to make any design changes. The changes made in the first generation Chargers were basically insignificant. Slightly new grille designs and a bumper around the grille were about it.
The Charger models were really a big step forward for Chrysler who hadn't been able to penetrate the youth market to a large degree during the 1960's. The new Dodge Charger helped grab some of that younger market share. Chrysler did have some success however with the Fastback Valiant which did appeal to the younger driver. The Dodge Charger eventually was the result of Chrysler designers coming up with a Fastback model of the then mid-sized Coronet. In fact, many would say the Charger was a Coronet with a few exceptions. The first Dodge Charger in the 1966 model year was a big car. At 203.6 inches long it was a full 22 inches longer than a 1966 Ford Mustang.
Automakers design cars to match competitor offerings and the Dodge Charger was originally designed to be an answer to the Plymouth Barracuda and the Ford Mustang 2+2. The Dodge Charger being quite big was, as mentioned above, on a larger scale than the Plymouth and Ford models.
Some of the accessories, options and design changes for the the Charger were hide-away headlamps and a standard V-8 Engine. Also offered in the first series Chargers was a split fold down rear seatback. This styling change would catch on and be quite popular with a lot of different cars.
There were a variety of engines offered during the third generation Chargers which were known to be the models from 1971 to 1974. All were V-8's with a range of 318 cid to 440 cid. Horsepower ranged from 230 to 425. Lots of power under the hood.
An interesting side note as to just how much of a performance car the Dodge Charger was known as, the 1966 model's 426cubic inch Hemi V8 garnered 18 wins for Dodge and the manufacturer's title during NASCAR's 1966 Grand National season. Pretty impressive for a new performance car from a manufacturer not necessarily noted for performance engineering prior to that year. The transmission that went along with the 1971 Charger models was a standard three speed manual transmission or an optional three speed "Torqueflite" automatic.
The 1971 Dodge Chargers like the one shown here were resized. The 1971 Dodge Chargers had a 2 inch shorter wheelbase and an overall length 3 inches shorter. The 1971 Charger was also thought to have a Pontiac like grille. The top of the performance 1971 model was the Charger R/T with its standard 440 Magnum V-8rated at a big 370 HP. The car shown in this article has a base 318 cid engine delivering about 230 HP.
(Photos are from author's private collection)