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In medieval times, a charger was a horse trained and equipped to carry guys into batle. ALthough not particularly fleet, they were big and powerful-useful attributes for lugging guys wearing iron hats, stell suits, chain-mail shirts, and leather underwear.

Fast forward about 1000 years. It's the summer of 1965, and the descendants of the medieval chargers have become the Budweiser Clydesdales. Meanwhile, serveral guys are sitting around an office in Highland Park, Michigan, brainstorming names for a hotted-up version of the Dodge Coronet. The age of the pony car is already at full gallop, thanks to the mid-'64 arrival of the Ford Mustang, so something horsy seems apropos: Charger. Romantic car-hors imagery backed by serious brute force in the form of Mopar's storied Hemi V-8.

Actuall, the word Chartger appeared in the Chrylser lexicon even before the Mustang trotted onto the scene. A Charger II concept car dbuted at the '65 Chicago show, and Chrysler sold a "Hemi-Charger" package in '64 and '65. The package was designed primary for drag racing and did not come with a warranty for street use. Yeah, right. Before you could say Woodward Avenue, Hemi hot rods were hammering around on public roads, and it wasn't long before Chrysler marketing people decided to capitalize on a good thing.

The '66 Charger superimposed onto the Coronet chassis a two-door fastback with hidden headlights and full width taillamps. It bore a strange resemblance to the unlovely AMC Marlin. And yeah, you could get that thing with a HEMI. Chrysler finally made the 426-cubic-inch Hemi available as a regular production option, one of three Charger V-8 engine choices. It was rated for 425 horsepower and 490 pound feet of torque. Rating methods were different (SAE gross versus today's SAE net), but the 426 Hemi was stout enough to hustle a 4035-pound 1968 Charger to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds, as we discovered in a November 1967 test.

Nevertheless, most of the 37,344 Chargers produced for the 1966 had one of the lesser eights-the 230-hp, 318-cubic-inch standard engine or the 265-hp 361-cubic-inch upgrade option. Less then two percent of those '66 Chargers- just 468-had Hemis under their hoods.

Fast forward to 2004. The Chrysler Corporation has become DaimlerChrysler, the Hemi V-8 has been resurrected in a new and modern form, and Dodge is set to revive the Charger name when it unveils a new full-size, rear-drive sedan at the Detroi auto show in January.

As we go to the press, this much has been confirmed by the company. What follows is informed speculation based on insider hints, heavily camouflaged spy photos, and carious tidbits we've extraced from key players in the development project.

The Name

Chrysler Group design V-P Trevor Creed says the company "planned to do the Charger all along," but that's not entirely accurate. The car may have been certainty, but the name was an open issue. Charger is a word that's loaded with a powerful symbolism, and it still has plenty of propertary identity with the Dodge division, but its cachet isn't quite as compelling as it once was.

This is attributable to certian abuses the name has suffered over the years. When emissions regs and the Arab oil embargo of the 1973 put an end to Detroit's carefree big-inch V-8 heyday, Dodge began sticking Charger badges on rides that were. shall we say, not so noteworthy. The Hemi was gone by '72, and the Charger morphed into a big, soft luxury coupe before disapperaing at the end of the '78 model year.

The name reappeared in 1981, affixed to a front-drive coupe based on the Dodge Omni econocar and later transferred to another front-drive coupe based on the ubiquitous K-car platform. Whith turbocharging, output of this car's 2.2-lieter four eventually climbed as high as 174 horsepower from a pathetic starting point of 109 be even with the added marketing power of a Carroll Shelby treatment, these were forgettable cars, and "Charger" was dropped from the Dodge brand roster again in 1988.

So what makes it worth reviving today? First, the new car is far more consistent with its big V-8 roots than those faux Chargers of the '80s. Second, and more to the point, the kids at Chrysler couldn't really come up with anything better.

"The name has positives and negatives," says Creed. "We think the positives dominate."

The Car

What Creed and crew "planned all along" was a sedan version of the Dodge Magnum wagon (called a "sports tourer," since wagon has become a word to avoid in automobile marketing circles). But why was there no coupes or sedan at the git-go?

"We went with the wagon initially becuase there are a lot of dealers carrying both Dodge and Chrysler, and we wanted to avoid having two similar-looking vehicles in the same stores."

Creed was, of course, referring to the Chrysler 300 and the upcomming Dodge sequel. Waiting a year gave the 300 a change to etablish itself in the marketplace, so the remaining challenge was creating a sedan with an identity of its own.

Here's what we know, and what we think we know.

Unlike Chargers of yesteryear, the new one will have four doors, coupes being a weak commodity in today's generally soft passenger-car market. However, as out illustrations indicate, the Charger exterior design team-Ralph Gilles, Jeff Gale, and Mark Hall-seeks to preserve a coupe-ish look with a sloping rear roofline culminating in a steeply raked rear window and short decklid.

The decklid ends in a raised lip, which should reduce lift when you're crusing your neighborehood at 130 mph, and the trailing edges of the rear doors are cut well into the bulging rear fenders, reinforcing the coupe look and lending brawn to the package. There's also plenty of muscle in the front-end presentation, with flared fenders and Dodge's trademark gun-sight grille. And we anticipate the muscular presence to be backed up with plenty of grunt. More on that in a minute.

The Charger will ride on the same rear-drive platform that supports the Chrysler 300-series and the Magnum. No surprise there. That means the same 120.0 inch wheelbase, with trackdimensions simailar to those of the 300-63,0 inches in front, 63.1 inches in the rear- if not identical. It's overall length will probably be about the same as the 300's-about 197 inches- but we expect its roofline to be slightly lower than those of the 300 and Magnum wagon. The swoopy rear roofline mitigates the turret-top look of the 300, but the high beltline yields the same low glass-to-body ratio that's a key element in these new Chrysler Group designs, as well as an industry-wide trend. Feedback from sonsumer clinics suggest that redused glass area and higher cowls give occupants a sense of heightened security.

Like the 300 and the wagon, the Charger's aggressive, bull-nosed look in enhanced by a limited front overhang, a benefit of a read-drive design. However, even though the profiles of the 300 and Charger will be simailar, our spies tell us the new sedan will share no-repeat no- sheetmetal with its Chrysler counterpart or, for that matter, with the Magnum wagon.

The Powertrain

Like the original, the new Charger will offer the option of Hemi power make that reborn-in-'03 Hemi power. The standard engine will be a 3.5-liter V-6 (250 horse power, 250 pound-feet), with the 5.7 Hemi V-8 (340 horsepower, 390 pound-feet) as an option. The base Magnum's 2.7-liter V-6 (190 hoursepower, 190 pound-feet) won't be offered in the Charger. The transmission with the Hemi will be a five-speed automatic (Mercedes designed and Kokomo, Indaina-built) with manumatic capability, aka AutoStick. A four-speed AutoStick will come with the V-6.

So far, so good. But here's where the origanl Charger parallel may break down. In '66, the Hemi Charger was the hottest ride in the Chrysler garage. Not that thenew Hemi Charger will be slow, despite an anticipated curb weight in the region of two tons. A 300C we tested in May tipped the scales at 4140 pounds but still husted to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds.

Still, it appears the real hot rod of this platform will wear Chrysler badges. Unveiled in August at the Monterey Historic Automobile Races, the Chrysler 300C SRT-8 [see page 35] will get a new 6.1-liter version of the Hemi V-8, generating 425 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque. With the extra muscle come a firmer suspension and more aggressive rubber-hallmarks of an SRT treatment.

None of these goodies will be offered as Charger options, at least not initially. On the other hand, when the Charger goes on sale next spring the Hemi version will undoubtedly be priced about the same as the Hemi-powered Magnum R/T, which starts just under $30,000, some three grand south of the 300C. Since we already regard the 300C as one of the best preforming-sedan bargains on the market today, the Charger figures to be strong contender for the absolute title.
 

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The Car

What Creed and crew "planned all along" was a sedan version of the Dodge Magnum wagon (called a "sports tourer," since wagon has become a word to avoid in automobile marketing circles).
----- < This says alot to me, that this was a MAGNUM sedan "all along" and "later" named it the Charger. "To me" this says (if this source is correct) that the new Charger will not look anything like the 99 concept just a 300/MAGNUM with different sheet metal. Thanks for posting this, there is alot of good info there, and I think it gives us a better picture of what to expect.
 

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That text goes with the Car & Driver pics - you can check 'ed out in the pictures forum or on AllPar.
 

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All of this does not make much sense. There is no way Chrysler would give away the design to a car mag months before it is unveiled. This picture is a photoshop job based off a 300. It is not that much removed for the Popular Hotrodding renderings months ago. In fact, the Popular Hotrodding pics were BETTER. They were a rendering from scratch. Somebody clearly just slapped a big grille, and current Nascar style head lamps on a picture of a 300.

The car could very well look like the rendering, but it really doesn't make sense to keep the car a secret anymore if it looks like this. In fact, it does not make sense at all to keep it a secret if it was just going to be another 300 with a different bage an a different grille.

I'm going to wait until January to make my judgements.
 

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shelbyduster said:
All of this does not make much sense. There is no way Chrysler would give away the design to a car mag months before it is unveiled. This picture is a photoshop job based off a 300. It is not that much removed for the Popular Hotrodding renderings months ago. In fact, the Popular Hotrodding pics were BETTER. They were a rendering from scratch. Somebody clearly just slapped a big grille, and current Nascar style head lamps on a picture of a 300.
Who said they "gave it away"? C&D's artist did a composite drawing based on leaks from various sources. Separately, so did a few folks on Allpar, working (presumably) from separate sources. The fact that all of the composites look pretty much alike should be telling you something.

Just because it's goofy looking doesn't mean it's wrong. Time to wake up and face reality.
 

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Can sombody post a pic of the Charger here, or a link? Love to see what it looks like now. No real surprises in the article, thanks for posting it.
 

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Reality and truth are realtive until we actually see the car. For example, take this post copied from the Car and Driver Forum. It states two sources from the Brampton assembly plant. It also states that Charger will be both a two door and four door:

QUOTE(hemicharger @ Aug 25 2004, 12:45 AM)
This was posted by Payman in Car and Driver forums, take it as you will....

Everyone knows that the new Charger has been the most secret thing since Area 51. With less than 6 months till launch, there still isn't any kind of spy pic circulating the net. Well, I got some tantalizing info the other night from an aquaintance (brother's friend, actually) who is a manager at the Brampton plant. He didn't spill much, and was getting irate with my questions. He did say that he was right in the thick of Charger tooling, and that the car will come out in the spring (we already knew this, right)? Take the following info any way you want it, but another Brampton plant employee at the Dodge forums mostly agrees with what he told me:
1. The Brampton plant is at full capacity, and the Charger, or at least some production, will be built at another plant in Eastern US. (Delaware)???
2. The Enforcer police package production is in full swing at the Brampton plant.
3. There are numerous Charger models, including 250 hp V6, 340 hp Hemi and 425 hp Hemi SRT-8, in BOTH 4 door and 2 door models.[:0]
4. The car is obviously built on the 300/Magnum platform, but looks VERY different.
5. It appears to have the fastback rear end of the '99 prototype, although with sharper creases.
6. It has the coke bottle rear flanks that is a signature of the old Charger.
7. The beltline is not high and straight like the 300, but slopes downward in a graceful arc from rear to front.
8. It has the angular side scoops of the "popular hottrodding" mock up.
9. The front end slopes downward further than the 300, and culminates in a front end similar to the 2005 Mustang's.[:0]
(This would mean an upper leading edge more forward than the lower).

Remember, take this info with a grain of salt. I'm pretty confident that this info is accurate according to the info I was able to glean from this aqauintance...I hope he's right because this sounds like one KICK butt Charger!
 

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KMPX2 said:
...Dodge began sticking Charger badges on rides that were. shall we say, not so noteworthy...

...even with the added marketing power of a Carroll Shelby treatment, these were forgettable cars...
I must protest. I own 3 of these aforementioned "forgettable cars". I have 2 1986 Dodge Shelby Chargers and a 1987 Shelby GLHS. In it's stock form even the Shelby Charger (146 hp) will lay shame to any of the import "tuners" (re: the poseurs) that pretend to know what they are driving.

With merely an MP computer upgrade the GLHS will put out 200 hp and lay waste to the majority of the cars produced even today, including many of the V8 Rustangs that boast "increased performance". I have this upgrade, and have proved it’s worth time and time again.

One of my Shelby Chargers has been the lucky recipient of a '92 Dodge Daytona IROC R/T motor (16V intercooled 2.2, 224 hp stock) which I have tuned to well over 250 hp. Current plans for this vehicle/motor combo will put it well over the 300 hp mark. I am shooting for 400, and it has been done by others before. The 500 hp mark dream has been long since achieved and surpassed in these "pathetic" 2.2L engines.

Forgettable? Yes, the look on all those poor, feeble attempts at "street racers" faces were completely forgettable. The acknowledgement of $100K+ Mercedes owners who dribble "what the heck is that thing?" after I leave them standing at the light is all too distant in my memory. The euphoric feeling I get every morning when I get pinned to the seat as I pull out the driveway means nothing to me. I have also completely forgotten the dropping jaws at the track when a fellow local "forgettable car" owner turned an 11 second run.

The exterior styling of the Shelby Charger and later the ’87 GLHS was enough to hook me in back when I first saw one at age 16. The ground compliments of the fascia were lower and more aggressive than any car I had seen before. The turbo bulge hood with the gray stripe down the centre was enough to solidly plant my opinion that no car under $100K has come close to looking as good as it did, and still does. The clean straight lines and font nose with no ingression I have never seen again on a production car.

Before I start sounding like some kind of stuck up SOB I'll digress, I, and all the other members of the Shelby Dodge Automobile Club have encountered this beratement before. We are used to it and don’t take offense to it, but we have learned not sit idly by as others "put us in their place". We have the grapes to defend ourselves, on the street or at the track. I will admit that the "namesake" may have been offended during the initial L-body offering of the charger, but there can be no love lost, for they "grew up" to be apt defenders of the badging.

Not so noteworthy... not in my eyes.
Forgettable... by no means whatsoever.

Thanks,
Jeff van Solkema
Vice President, Shelby Dodge Automobile Club - Great Lakes Chapter

PS: actually, the reason why I am here is because I am anxious about hearing if this new version of the Charger will hold up to the namesake that I have been accustomed to. Right now, I am not excited about the impending extra 2 doors that the badge has never before been equipped with. I look forward to seeing it at the NAIAS 2005, and may decide not to purchase the Magnum SRT-8 in favour of the Charger SRT-8 if it meets visual expectations. Though I think the Shelby Charger has been one of the best looking cars ever made I do like the look of the prototype Magnum SRT-8, and I hope the production version has the same ground effect styling.
 

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Go get 'em, 87GLHS645,

One of my buddies owned an '86 Charger 2.2. Horrid vehicle. But another of my buddies owned a new at the time, '91 Daytona with the Mitsubishi 3.0l. He worked with a guy who owned an '87 GLHS and decided to talk smack since he knew of our friend's 2.2. I told him about that GLHS and not to equate our friend's vehicle with his. Well he didn't take my advice and proceeded to be schooled repeatedly by the GLHS one night in front of many, many people.

Every rare once in a while I'll come across a GLHS on the freeway. They always get thumbs up from me. I can only imagine one of those cars with the Turbo III engine in it. Spooky!!! :eek:
 

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Well, maybe I shouldn't step down off my high horse just yet! It's nice to be received so well. Thank you!


Stevasaurus said:
One of my buddies owned an '86 Charger 2.2. Horrid vehicle.
LOL!!! My first car was an '83 Omni with the 98 hp 2.2. HORRID INDEED, but I loved the heck out of it. Even when one of the pistons fell off the crankshaft I just put a new bearing in it, bolted the connecting rod back on and drove it for another 10,000 miles. I had 14 people in that thing at one time. God, the memories.

Then, I found out they (Chrysler) had made a 2 door version. I thought; cool, I want one. Then I found out they made a turbocharged version, ooooooh me likey long time. Then, I found out about the GLHS and about spooged all over. That was almost 10 years ago. In the years since my time with these cars has been filled with great times, and many victories (and some losses, of course). All the while, finding that those who are not familiar with what lies beneath my hood are seldom accepting, and often sarcastic, or even rude, BUT are always SURPRISED once the light turns green. 'Tis the life of a sleeper.

And now the segue back into the "on-topic"...

As I am sure anyone from the Michigan area can tell you there is a certain problem that exists here in the winter. Those who enjoy their cars do not enjoy the salt that corrodes our most prized possessions. I am also not a fan of they way people drive around here (I am not native to the Great Lakes area), and as my favoured vehicles are becoming more difficult to find replacement parts for I would prefer to keep my Chargers as hobby toys and restrict their public appearances to SDAC events and other enthusiast events like the Woodward Dream Cruise, the 'Nats or Carlisle.

So, I find myself in the market for a new car. I have been a long time fan of the Chargers both new and old. I need to get something that can meet my expectations as far as performance is concerned. The Magnum SRT-8 caught my eye when it was released and I have been obsessed ever since. Then, I found out Chrysler was going to resurrect the Charger namesake, so now I'm on the fence. Whether I fall to the side of the Charger SRT-8 or stay on the Magnum SRT-8 side depends squarely on how Chrysler meets my expectations of what I hope the Charger to be.

It MUST be a 2-door car. I don't care if a sedan version is offered, I'm sure guys with kids will appreciate it, but not me. I am 6 foot 5, I appreciate every inch of the huge doors that even my little 2 door L-body has.

It MUST have a manual transmission offered. 5 speed, 6 speed, whatever. I'm not a fan of the slush box. I've heard the autostick is a nice transmission and I'm sure people who have never bothered to learn how to drive stick will love it. I like to drive manuals, it's just the way I am.

It MUST look awe inspiring, and be true to the design. Fast back, hatch back, both the new and old have subtle similarities that can be revived. I understand that as it is a rear wheel drive and as such the design may tend towards the older version, but the sloping front end with the sharp lower front lip of the newer Charger, in my opinion, was well brought to light in the '99 concept that so many people here are speaking very highly of.

I figure if it cannot meet these basic requirements I would be better off with the Magnum, especially if it will be the recipient of the 6.1L. It carries it’s 4 doors quite nicely, and has an air about it as if it were on steroids. With a trailer hitch it would be a welcome addition to help get my Chargers from track to show and back.

The designer of what will be the new generation will be a hero, or will be hated. DC has a lot of people waiting patiently (and some not so patient) to see their memories honoured and brought back to the light of day. I only hope that when it is unveiled we can sit back with a sigh of relief in knowing that they did it right.

And so now I will step down from the soap box.

Thanks,
Jeff
 

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Personally I really don't think it's *that* ugly. It certainly doesn't grab me like the 300C but it's no Pontiac Aztec either.

I'm just digging the 4 door muscle car idea.

Plus I love Dodge.
 

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I had probably one of the first 1982 Charger 2.2s...so I was looking in anticipation to the rebirth. Now before you laugh you have to look at the times and the so called fuel shortage that had killed the muscle car.
That last Charger had better numbers then the Mustang and Camero.

http://www.geocities.com/aaronkarpi/1981.htm.

Sadly to say I am very disapointed at the 4 door version as I was looking for something more like my current GTO.
 

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KMPX2 said:
Actuall, the word Chartger appeared in the Chrylser lexicon even before the Mustang trotted onto the scene. A Charger II concept car dbuted at the '65 Chicago show, and Chrysler sold a "Hemi-Charger" package in '64 and '65. The package was designed primary for drag racing and did not come with a warranty for street use. Yeah, right. Before you could say Woodward Avenue, Hemi hot rods were hammering around on public roads, and it wasn't long before Chrysler marketing people decided to capitalize on a good thing.
Where did this information come from ?

This part is correct: "A Charger II concept car debuted at the '65 Chicago show"

The Race Hemi package for the 64-65 Dodge Coronet's were coined "Ramcharger", following the factory sponsored Ramchargers race team. The Plymouth's carried various engine package naming conventions also, for example: Commando, Golden Commando and Super Commando, following the factory sponsored Golden Commandos race team. The Max Wedge & Hemi cars came in various configurations during 62-65 model years ... some were lightweights ... all the Dodge models with "Ramcharger" visible on the valve covers.

In 1965, the Plymouth/Dodge Race Hemi Super Stock cars carried the factory code A990 .... again Dodge carried the "Ramcharger", and Plymouth carried the "Super Stock" nomenclature on the valve covers... but was commonly referred to as a "Super Commando" in various techical documents.

In 1965 or thereabout, the Dodge Dart with a 273 V8 was available with a "Charger" high-po engine option---I've only seen pictures of this rare engine option.

Comments ?
 

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like DaimlerChrysler doesn't have enough sports cars already, if you dont like the four doors and its appearance you can choose from an srt6 coupe or convertible or just the plain crossfire, 300 srt8 or 300C, srt4, viper convertible and soon to come, the new viper coupe.

Listen, if you still don't like its look and you haven't seen it upclose and personal, go to one of the shows. I went to the PhillyAutoShow and the Black SXT charger they had looked pretty damn good, and it wasn't even an r/t or an srt8
 
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