By on September 17, 2013

My departure from the cloistered world of automotive design was anything but pleasant: leaving the College for Creative Studies scarred changed me, possibly ensuring the inability to conform to PR-friendly autoblogging. Luckily I am not alone. While Big Boss Man rests in Chrysler’s doghouse, a remotely nice comment about their door handles perked the ears of the local Chrysler PR rep…and she tossed me a bone.

Perhaps you’ve never heard of Hovas’ Hemi Hideout: so here’s a slice of Mopar history worthy of a deep dive into the Vellum. Oh, thanks for the invite, Chrysler.

1

An unforgettable face: the iconic 1968-1970 design was Chrysler’s most memorable effort to spook insurance and safety special interest groups into forcing “better” vehicles on the public. Sure, we’re better off now, but is a fragile chrome halo of a bumper really that useless?

Isn’t this bumper (and complex hidden headlights) worth the extra insurance premiums? Worth it to have a disturbingly clean and minimalist design?  Probably not…

2

But still, you can’t argue with how stunning and shocking this is.  While nothing like Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase, the Charger’s front clip is a timeless work of art.  The blackout grille extends over the headlights, encased in a deep silver rim, topped with a chrome bumper…wrapped up with a name: Charger R/T.  This nose and this name made a promise to would-be new car racers of the era, and its aged phenomenally well.

That said, my favorite grille of this body style was the cleanest: the 1968 Charger was the one to have. It makes the otherwise clean 1970 Charger look downright fussy!

3

Things fall apart as you look closer, however.  Maybe the solid grilles over the headlights look cheap, and the panel gaps are too sloppy. The round signal lights look like a leftover assembly from the 1950s. Or perhaps the license plate should be located even lower as to not interfere with the bumper’s strong minimal form.

4

Even though the front end looks flat from many angles…

Note how the chrome bumper tapers in near the headlights, then pushes back out at the ends of the fenders. The silver rim accentuates this dance, ditto the fenders and hood.  But that black sheet of grille?  It peaks at the middle and nothing more.  The different high/low spots are phenomenally beautiful, it is fantastically executed on this front fascia.  5

The hood’s recesses and that strong center mohawk add a bit of excitement to an otherwise far-too-subtle design for a Mopar Muscle car. If you had a problem with Mopar Minimalism!

6

Somehow I doubt the meaty rubber trim does anything to protect the Charger’s painted body from the front bumper.  Not to mention the horrible fitment of this (replacement?) trim. I’d hate to be a broke-ass dude in the 1980s when someone slams their 5-mph bumper’d Monte Carlo into my otherwise cherry 1970 Charger.  The damage would be extensive…and would go unrepaired!

 

7

Hood pins are cool…but following their cable to this horrendous gap in the rubber trim leaves much to be desired. Damn, son!

7_1But it’s less offensive when you step back a little.

8_1

The only thing cooler than Rallye wheels and Goodyear white letter polyglass tires on this Charger would be the new-age 17″ repros with fat steel-belted rubber.  I love the proportioning of a proper 1970s muscle car with 17″ rolling stock: it’s perfection.

9

The hard bend (with a slight upward angle) at the end of the fenders just “ends” me. It’s another snapshot on vehicle design that emulates the timelessness of the infinity pool in modern architecture. Combine with the Charger’s long front end and deep fenders (i.e. the space between the hood cutline and the end of the fender) and this is simply a fantastic element.

10

The hood’s negative areas add some necessary excitement, otherwise this would be too boring for an American muscle car.  There’s just too much real estate not to do…something!

11

The signal repeaters at the beginning of the negative area’s cove are a styling element that I wish could come back.  But no, we need standard bluetooth and keyless ignitions instead…probably.

12

I’d trade all that standard technology for a hood this menacing, this modern.

Mid Century Muscle?

Mad Men Mopar?

Don Draper’s mid-life crisis machine?

All of the above. 13
The intersection of the cowl, fender, hood and door isn’t terribly elegant.  Newer cars have “hidden” cowls, an advancement that’d make the Charger shine. Because not having the fenders and hood sweep over THIS space does THAT front end a huge disservice.  Plus the panel gaps kinda suck, too.

14
At least there’s no DLO fail.  But imagine this angle with the 1980s technology of hidden cowl panels!

15

A little faster A-pillar would also be nice, it’s too static just like the cowl. But asking for such changes 40 years later is beyond idiotic. And while the R/T door scoop isn’t nearly as hideous as the afterthought scoop on the 1999 Ford Mustang, you gotta wonder how “ricey” this looked to old school hot-rodders making sleepers out of Tri-Five Chevys and boring 1960s sedans.

16

The pivot point for the vent window is an interesting bit of kit.

17

Chrome elbow sleeves, because a computer couldn’t bend/cut one piece of bling for us back then. Bummer.

18

Yeah, the R/T’s useless scoop is pretty much Muscle Car Rice.  While it kinda accentuates the genesis of the door’s muscular bulge, it’s completely superfluous. 19

Chrysler’s side view mirrors for the time were pretty cool by themselves…but they didn’t match the max wedge (get it?) demeanor of the front end.  20
I never noticed the three lines inside the R/T’s slash.  Definitely adds some excitement without today’s emblem marketing overkill.

21

Note how the R/T scoop does match the contrasting muscular wedge of the door.  Problem is, the scoop is obviously a tacked-on afterthought.  Negative area like the hood was a smarter alternative. But the interplay between doors lower wedge and the strong upper wedge coming from the fender is quite fetching.  As if the Charger is ripped from spending years a the gym.

22

Yup, toned and perfected at the gym.  Too bad the door handles belong on Grandma’s Plymouth.  Perhaps we all shamelessly raid the parts bin…22_1

The SE package was always the Super Classy Excellent model to have.  The vinyl top, these “proto-brougham” emblems and the interior upgrades are totally worth it. What’s up with the pure modern “SE” lettering with that almost malaise-y script below to explain what SE stands for? I’d cut the emblem in the middle and only use the upper half.

I’d save the lower half for the disco era, natch. I mean, obviously!

22_2

Vintage Mopar marketing sticker?  Check.

23

Classic Detroit is present in the Charger’s profile.  Long hood, long dash-to-axle ratio, long fastback roof, long quarter panels and a long deck. That’s a lotta long!

The only thing too short are those doors: the cutline should extend several inches back for maximum flow.  And from the subtle curve in the front fender to the stunning hips above the rear axle, does the Charger ever flow!

  24

Aside from the obvious problem with rearward visibility, how can you hate this buttress’d roof?  The fastback C-pillar is a long, daring and classy affair when trimmed with chrome and textured vinyl.  Keeping the roof from being too boring was the rear window’s use of a different vanishing point than the C-pillar, which translates into a different stop on the blue body.

25

To make up for the different vanishing points, more chrome and vinyl. I can dig it, but perhaps such design novelties are better off on a less mainstream product.  Or perhaps not…because how many people wanted a Charger back in 1970?  And how many people want one now?  Me thinks the number is exponentially higher today.

Yes, I know these pictures suck. But you can’t imagine how painful it was to coax a cheapie digital camera to do the right thing under the harsh lighting provided by half a million dollars worth of vintage neon lights. And now I hate neon lights.

26

Chrome and vinyl: so happy together.

26_1

The different vanishing points for the C-pillar and rear window make for a little problem: the trunk’s cutline should be much closer to the rear window.  And while that’d make a stupid-long trunk, it would look stupid cool.

26_2
Just in case you didn’t know where the new Challenger got that fuel door idea from. Too bad the new Challenger doesn’t have the Charger RT’s sense of chrome trimmings elsewhere to integrate it into the package.  That said, this is a beautiful piece of outstanding metal on a minimalistic body. Which makes it a wart…and by definition, warts must be destroyed.

Killed with fire. Or splashed with acid.  Or whatever it takes for a Dermatologist to knock ‘em off a beautiful body.

28

A part of me wishes the Charger’s back-end had the same round chrome bumper treatment as the front.  And no chrome around the red tail lights.  Actually just graft the front end entirely back here, and replace the black grille with red tail lights. A bit stupid perhaps, but it’d make a completely cohesive and eye-catching design.

29

That said, the Charger ain’t no slouch in the posterior.  The vertical bumperettes need to find lodging elsewhere, ditto the round backup lights.  But the space between the lights is the perfect location for a branding emblem, and the impossibly thin decklid looks quite sharp.

30

There’s a subtle dovetail at the end of the trunk, a nod to modern aerodynamic designs. I love it, don’t you?

31

Can’t say the same for the undefined space between the rear bumper and the quarter panel.  Yeesh, this was acceptable in 1970?

32

The trunk’s gap also leaves something to be desired. While I like the interplay between the chrome bumper and the tail light trim above the license plate area, it’s a bit too subtle.  Wait, did I actually mean what I said?

The difference in “heights” at the license plate should either be a bit more aggressive, or completely, exactly the same as the rest of the light/bumper ratio.

33

Maybe the crude black paint on the tail light’s chrome trim is the byproduct of a terrible restoration…but considering factory correct restorations elsewhere include similarly sloppy craftsmanship to mimic the factory…

Oh boy.

34

The tail lights are sunken significantly into the body, just like the grille up front.  Me likey enough to adore: such use of aggressive negative areas needs to come back in a BIG way.

35

There’s something about the chrome trim’s application around the trunk lock…

36

Even the camera-infurating action of all those neon lights can’t hide the ugliness here. Maybe my idea of having an all-encompassing chrome bumper instead of chrome around the tail light isn’t such a stupid idea after all. It’d certainly address this problem.

37

The round backup light does this design no favors. Exposed screws on the chrome bezel makes it worse. Weren’t there some square lenses Chrysler coulda parts-bin’d instead?

38 No matter: the 1970 Charger is an unforgettable machines.  I can’t imagine owning one when new, only to move on to tackier metal from the disco era.  And if a 1970 Charger owner was loyal enough to stick around during the Iaococca era and beyond, well, they’d be justified to hate everything made after 1970. Just look at that roof!

Thank you for reading, I hope you have a lovely week.

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74 Comments on “Vellum Venom: 1970 Dodge Charger RT-SE...”


  • avatar
    jz78817

    “Can’t say the same for the undefined space between the rear bumper and the quarter panel. Yeesh, this was acceptable in 1970?”

    well sure. what do ya think people are going to do about it, buy those foreign cars?

    Oh…

  • avatar
    OldandSlow

    That’s how we built them back then in order to morph a mundane Satellite/Coronet into a special edition to go up against the Pontiac GTO.

    Panel gaps and wobbly bits were part of the package.

    With regards to bumpers – some European imports of the era came with chrome adornments that weren’t very effective above .1 mph. Today we have plastic bumper covers that at the corners have nothing but air behind them.

    – Andrew in Austin, TX -

  • avatar
    sexyhammer

    I stopped reading when you said that you’d like to see modern 17″ wheels on this car. Restomods are travesties. Pro-touring is a joke. If I wanted a life-sized HotWheels, I’d build a giant fiberglass shark and cover it in metal flake; it would be infinitely more tasteful than rolling a Foose’d-out anything.

    • 0 avatar

      Most pro-touring creations I see are running 18s and higher. Which I can’t stand.

      The proportioning of a 17″ wheel on old Detroit iron is perfect for me: just like the 17″s and that long flowing hood on the original Dodge Viper.

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        I can understand 17″s if it means theres bigger brakes behind them, but I never liked the silly bigger wheels that make the cars look like toys.

      • 0 avatar
        sexyhammer

        to each his own i suppose. personally: i’d find disc brakes that fit under 15″ wheels at biggest, preferably minilites. then i’d lower the car to trans-am spec and call that part of my build done.

        BTW: They make BBKs for smaller wheels:

        http://www.summitracing.com/search/product-line/baer-brakes-baer-claw-serious-street-disc-brake-kits

        • 0 avatar
          bunkie

          My first car, a ’69 Charger had 15″ chrome-reverse wheels which, at the time, looked huge. Personally, I like a fair amount of sidewall on a classic car. Today’s rubber-band tires just look wrong to me.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            ++ Bring the choir on down behind this man.

            Yes! The ubiquitous Japanese 13/14-inchers of the ’80s and early ’90s looked larger and definitely better aesthetically balanced that today’s 15/17-inchers with the rubber bands.

            Not to mention better absorbing bumps before they pounded steel. Why the hell do today’s designers so hate sidewalls?

          • 0 avatar
            bumpy ii

            Tire and suspension tech have advanced a LOT in the last few decades. These days, a good suspension can absorb road bumps while still handling well, and sidewalls can be stiffer as well to minimize squirm. It is fashionable in some quarters to romanticize the old land yacht mushrooms, but when was the last time you heard of anyone getting carsick?

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            Never got carsick, probably would never fork out for whichever vehicles have “good suspensions”, don’t drive violently enough for “squirm” to be a factor and I notice that trucks and other vehicles for heavier loads/rougher road surfaces are still fitted with “mushrooms”.

            Your points seem to mostly concern people who want to look stylish, drive fast and turn hard in expensive rides.

          • 0 avatar
            Lorenzo

            My first car, a ’63 Rambler, had 14 inch wheels, as did my ’62 LeSabre, ’63 Newport, ’65 Impala, ’68 Montego, ’80 Regal – in fact they ALL had 14 inch wheels until the 13s on my ’83 and ’85 Accords, and I didn’t get to 15″ until the ’95 Altima, and 16 inch until the ’05 LeSabre. We seem to be headed backwards, toward the Model-T 22″ “artillery type”. THOSE were rubber bands!

          • 0 avatar
            bunkie

            My comment about the rubber-band tires refers only to their appearance on classic cars. There’s no doubt modern tires and suspensions are better. And while restomods perform better than pure classics, there’s something to be said for experiencing the past as it actually was.

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      He said modern reproduction wheels with steel-belted tires … not modern design wheels.

    • 0 avatar
      jz78817

      I don’t get the restomod hate. As long as you’re not butchering the car (especially if it’s a desirable or rare version) I think they’re just fine. I see no problem with taking a Charger or Challenger six (if you can find one,) dropping in a crate 5.7 Hemi and modernizing the suspension.

      Having a “Classic” musclecar which can actually start reliably and stop safely is IMO a neat thing.

    • 0 avatar
      Numbers_Matching

      Modern, larger diameter recreations of the original rally wheel design is a very popular and subtle upgrade for cars of this era. They allow for a better selection of performance rubber and aslo fill out those huge wheel wells. Keep in mind, that a standard wheel size on many American muscle cars back then was only 14X6 (inches). I have seen BRAKE ROTORS with a bigger diameter today.

    • 0 avatar
      jz78817

      *Anything* is better than the worthless bias-ply trash these cars originally rolled on.

    • 0 avatar
      nrd515

      I don’t like big wheels on any car, but on an old Charger, 17’s look like crap. My 2010 Challenger R/T Classic has 20″ wheels, and I would have liked to have it come with 18’s, but the cars with 18″ wheels were all strippers.

  • avatar
    shelvis

    Cork sniffing panel gaps on a 40+ year old car? Not to mention a 40+ year old car that’s been probably taken apart and put back together again more times than Donatella Versace’s face?
    That’s a new level of internet expert-ness going on there.
    Buy it and get a body manual and a bag of shims if it bothers you.

  • avatar
    Crabspirits

    I wonder what would have stopped the Charger shopper from going over to the ‘Cuda when this was in the showroom. Seems to me it did everything better. It didn’t have that sleek length though.

    • 0 avatar

      I thought the B-platform had a roomier interior and the E, especially rear seat legroom.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Length and swoopy lines are what really caught the eye back then. The longer wheelbase also made it more stable at speed. (Unfortunately, very, very few Charger Daytonas and Super Birds survived their first 7 days on the road, but that was more due to the owners simply not knowing how to handle that kind of speed than any fault of the cars themselves.)

    • 0 avatar
      rpol35

      They were not comparable cars. The logical comparison would have been to look at the Dodge Challenger if you didn’t want the length and the Challenger did have a slightly longer wheelbase than the ‘Cuda, so not quite as cramped in the interior.

      A direct cross-shop to Plymouth would have been the GTX – same platform and mechanicals as the Charger without the flying butress c-pillars (which were old school at this point, GM having employed that design on their ’66 & ’67 A-bodies).

    • 0 avatar
      GS 455

      The intermediates like the Charger were better at getting their power to the ground than Pony cars. Low ETs were everything back then.

    • 0 avatar
      rudiger

      That’s exactly what happened and, in a perverse way, contributed to Chrysler’s demise. A lot of Charger/Roadrunner buyers decided to try the E-body cars when they traded in 1970. As bad as the build quality might have been for the intermediates, it was worse with the ponycars. If you want to see some sloppily built cars, you really need to take a close look at a Challenger/Barracuda, particularly at stuff like AAR/T/A fiberglass hoods. I can’t imagine someone who got burned with an E-body buying another Chrysler product anytime soon.

      BTW, that Scat Pack bee sticker in the quarter window is a cheap, aftermarket, knock-off piece. You can tell because the originals are a strict cut-out of just the bee and don’t have all the excess plastic that makes them a square sticker.

    • 0 avatar
      GoCougs

      The ‘Cuda (and Challenger) didn’t do anything better than the Charger, and definitely nothing better than the Camaro or Mustang. E-bodies have their fans but the B-bodies were overall better cars (as were the Camaro and Mustang), and far better looking too.

    • 0 avatar
      bunkie

      Having owned both a ’69 Charger and a ’71 Challenger, I think I can answer that. The Challenger interior wasn’t half as nice as the one in the Charger. The door sills were too high (it was one of the few cars where it was impossible to hang your arm comfortable on the door with the window open. There was a lot of empty, ugly, unusable space inside the Challenger. The Charger felt more like a cockpit than a space shuttle main tank with seats as the Challenger did. Oh, and the “short doors” Sajeev calls out? That’s another reason. The Challenger was a real bitch to get in and out of in a tight parking space. The Charger was much better in that respect. having said that, my Charger had a 318 and an A904. My Challenger had a 440 and a four-speed. That made up for a lot of its shortcomings.

      In my opinion the ’69 was a prettier car. I always hated the front bumper on the ’70, it looked like what it was, a grafted-on afterthought. And ’70 RT door scoops hid those lovely C-shaped indentations in the door whose lines flowed along the flanks of the car.

      When I bought mine (for $550 in 1975 with 70K miles on it), it had a problem with the headlights shorting out when the high beams were applied. I traced it to the left headlight door which had caused the wire to chafe against a rough metal edge on the grill support. I fixed that but the high current eventually caused the headlight switch to fail intermittently. I loved that car but cursed its electrical system which was very poorly thought out. The PC-boad instrument cluster slowly failed and I could never get it to work properly after a while. That was compounded by the fact that the entire electrical bus when through the cluster-mounted ammeter. It was a nightmare.

      • 0 avatar
        rudiger

        I’m convinced that those famous loop front bumpers that all larger Chrysler products had by 1970 (the A- and E-body cars kept traditional bumpers) were a by-product of the Daytona/Superbird NASCAR ‘wing’ car program. In order to graft one of those wing-car nose-cones onto the front of a car, the ends of the front fenders couldn’t be finished/rounded. Thus, all the non-wing-cars had to have a loop front bumper that extended up to the non-finished fenders.

        Chrysler just took the loop bumpers to extremes by not only using them on cars that needed them for the nose-cones, but also using them on their big cars just to maintain a common theme throughout all their products.

        The best example is the goofy front end of the 1970 Dodge Coronet, the fenders of which did double-duty for the 1970 Plymouth Superbird.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Buyers back then blindly overlooked many of the things you describe today because for the day that was considered remarkable fit and finish–especially for an economy coupe turned muscle car. I don’t know of very many cars of the era that were any better until you got to high dollar cars like the Cadillac and Lincoln. Even now, most people look at the overall shapes and the sometimes too subtle hints and ignore the real details. In fact, some cars and trucks built today are sloppier than the Charger R/T ever was.

    The thing is, people still love the sport coupe, though today’s world has relegated them to niche status with very limited production while four-door sedans are the standard. Of the three American coupes currently available, the Camaro is a little too tight behind the wheel for my wife and too little legroom even in the passenger seat for her (she’s 6′ tall and it simply doesn’t give her room to shift around much). The Mustang isn’t much better. Unfortunately, we haven’t yet had the chance to try out the Challenger’s seating and I will admit that of the three I love the lines of the Challenger.

    What I really want to see is 2-door coupé versions of cars like the Charger itself or the other brands’ sedans. Never once have I purchased a sedan off the showroom floor, my only purpose-bought 4-doors both being SUVs. Even now, I would rather go with an import coupé than an American sedan if I have the option. 3-door hatch? I’d love it. 5-door? Forget it. I simply don’t have the need for a full-time 4-door as a daily driver.

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    This car is with out doubt a classic. Possibly my favorite next to the Original GTO. As much as I like the grill it does look a bit bord sucker fish…
    BTW I was hugely excited and tempted by the fact that you can buy a new one with the Hemi V8 and a manual transmission… about $31K Whoo! Hoo!

  • avatar
    LALoser

    Sajeev; Have an off-topic question…What is up with the new design of sheet metal sweeping forward like a blade into the headlight assembly? The new Tahoe and a few Nissans have it.. I hate it, looks like something ready to be snagged at the carwash.

  • avatar
    Wodehouse

    Interesting piece. Pardon my ignorance, but, what is meant by the terms “rice” and “ricey” that are used in the article?

    I wouldn’t change the rake of the windscreen or the length of the doors. It would spoil the forward thrust of the car created by the long, uninterrupted fender lines and angle of the rear pillars.

    • 0 avatar

      http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=rice

    • 0 avatar
      Cubista

      In this case, “ricey” refers to superfluous bodywork…vents or scoops that make no practical sense. Like the boy racers gluing roof scoops onto their Honda Civics.

      I like these door vents, though…makes the Charger favor a Great White shark more than a little bit, SON…why should the C3 owners have all the fun?

    • 0 avatar
      Compaq Deskpro

      I think this quote from the movie Gran Torino explains it eloquently.

      Warning: Racism ahead

      “And I’d like to leave my 1972 Gran Torino to my friend Thao Vang Lor. On the condition that you don’t chop-top the roof like one of those beaners, don’t paint any idiotic flames on it like some white trash hillbilly, and don’t put a big, gay spoiler on the rear end like you see on all the other zipperheads’ cars. It just looks like hell. If you can refrain from doing any of that… it’s yours.”

  • avatar
    PeteRR

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    When I was young when these were brand new , always thought that even by the lax standards of the day , Chrysler products were the absolute worst as far as panel gaps and shoddy half-assed looking body assembly . While I remember giant sized gaps among the GM cars we were driving in the same era- door gaps large enough to shove my finger in all the way in more than one of the Pontiacs we had in this time period – the Dodges of the period almost invariably showed signs of much more haphazard assembly to competing makes . And generally their interiors were also way cheaper and less durable looking than their GM / Ford competition . Always liked the pop-up gas filler and roof line of the Charger tho – way cooler than anything GM was doing back then .

  • avatar
    Blackcloud_9

    Since everybody’s opinions are subjective – and just that, an opinion – here’re mine.
    I think you’re being a bit nit-picky on several design aspects of the Charger.
    – Although they may be leftover from the parts bin, I think the round signal lights add a distinctive touch the front end. with all of the long lines and sharp creases you got to have something round on the car.
    – Likewise, the “leftover” round reverse lights tie into the front signal lights which help pull the lights into a design idea instead of an afterthought.
    – The twelve-year old kid in me thinks the fuel cap is one of the coolest design cues on the car. Flying into a gas station and shoving the gas-handle into that upright fuel filler…you’re not just filling up your car, you’re helping Richard Petty get his blue & red “43 STP” Charger fueled up and out of the pits in record time!
    – Nothing can be done about the many panel gaps. It what was perfectly acceptable build for the cars of the era. Although probably several of those gaps were tighter when the car was new.
    OK, Nit-picking on the nitpicks is done

    While generally a GM fan, I’ve always loved the minimalist design Chrysler/Dodge employed in their designs from the mid 60’s to the early 70’s. The belt line of the car was was basically a straight line that ran front to back. In cars like the Charger it denoted speed. In the Newports to the Imperials it signaled understated luxury and elegance.

    The front end of this car is one of my favorites. Hide-away headlights are the coolest! And the single-simple maw of the front end has that menacing look like it’s ready to vacuum up medium-sized animals and small children and use them for fuel

  • avatar
    stillhere

    Enjoyed the article and photos, but what’s up with all the weirdly contracted words like ‘bin’d’, or ‘bumper’d’, or ‘buttress’d’ ? What’s wrong with ‘binned’, ‘bumpered’, or ‘buttressed’?

  • avatar
    Zackman

    LIKES:

    1. Chrome door handles – which ALL cars MUST have.

    2. Pillarless hardtop styling – unfortunately you won’t see the likes of those ever again. sniff…

    3. Chrome “ornaments” – er…bumpers that are worthless, but hey – they’re CHROME!

    4. Proper badging, especially on the SIDES of the car. The new Impala returns to that, which makes me ecstatic. I had to adorn my 2012 myself, and my old 2004 for that matter.

    5. Liberal use of recessed styling for lights and such.

    DISLIKES:

    1. That era of Chrysler products in general – the bodies felt as though they were made of papiér maché! The General was still tops.

    2. Excessive overhangs, something that the auto mags regularly took the OEMs to task for, but the length is what made the designs work – please look at the above example compared to a Dodge Avenger, and the difference is obvious.

    Other than that, I miss the styling back then, but I’ll never trade modern reliability strictly for the sake of styling.

  • avatar
    GoCougs

    Hot-rodders in the late ’60s would have traded their first born and a right arm for this car, not view it as their equivalent of “ricey.”

    The rest of the criticism in the article was similarly lol stupid. How did this piece make it past site editors??? Ridiculous.

  • avatar
    ez3276

    I had one just like this from 1973-1975,same color, black vinyl top, black interior. Mine was a non-SE, Charger 500 though. Even then I thought that it was the 2nd best looking car of it’s time, the best looking being the 1968 Charger which I owned previously. Ahhh, those were the days.

  • avatar

    I love clean designs like this. I think an even better Mopar design–if not as sporty–is the 1970 Valiant. Sajeev, analyze that!
    Best, –David

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    Cheap fake black vents eh? If anything that makes the ’70 Charger ahead of its time!

    If you ask me the first years of the Charger (66, 67) were the best looking, they had a simple but striking shape to them. ’68s Were nice, but once ’69 hit we could see the effects of Detroits needless constant face-lifts taking effect, ’70 gave us “ricey” fake side vents.

    Once ’75 hit all that cleanliness was thrown out, then once the 80’s hit…actually I really shouldn’t talk about the 80’s Charger.

  • avatar
    hands of lunchmeat

    A friend of mine whose bread and butter is restoring 60’s era iron always said “i dont understand why everyone likes mopars – theyre tin cans with a big motor, thats it.”

    Im wondering if they have a similar era Challenger SE in that collection with the vinyl roof. The rear window treatment reall changes the look of the car.

    Furthermore, i dont think ‘restomod’ and ‘protouring’ should be uttered in the same sentence. I dont see anything wrong with giving a car minor upgrades to make it not wobble down the road like a drunken shopping cart, and start and run everytime you hit the key. Protouring is/was more of a fad, similar to the awful prostreet era in the early 90’s, where everything needed to be tubbed with bigs n littles and nasty tweed interiors. Gross.

    • 0 avatar

      +1 on the minor upgrades. Better brakes, suspension and electronic ignition make a world of difference in driveability.

      Tin cans with a big motor could also describe some of the Ferraris of that era. I think the joke was, you bought the engine and Ferrari threw in the car for free.

      But in both cases, the tin can is very good looking.

    • 0 avatar
      GoCougs

      “Everyone” buys Mopars because Mopars overall had the best motors plus the most prolific and radical styling, branding and advertising – Road Runner, Super Bee, Demon, R/T, AAR, TNT, Max Wedge, Magnum, Six-Pack, Hemi, etc.

      All cars back then were tantamount to temporary transportation. Owners, let alone designers, never anticipated that those cars would be uber desirable 30 or 40 years later. They were designed like all the rest of the cars of the area – to last a few years and maybe 100,000 miles.

  • avatar

    BLADE had one of those Chargers.

    As far as I’m concerned, IT WAS PERFECT.

    Same goes for the 06 and the same goes for the 2012.

  • avatar
    old5.0

    Great article. I’ve been waiting for a VV on the 68-70 B-body for awhile.

  • avatar
    Torrus

    I was twelve when the ’70 Charger hit the showroom and I wanted one at once, my dream came true in 1978 when I bought a dark green/white vinyl roof R/T for $2000. Many memorable moments happened with that car over the years, I sold it in 1999 to someone who wanted the drive train – then was contacted years later by another purchaser who was going to restore it and had some questions. I still believe it is one of the all-time great American car designs and hope to be able to acquire one someday and turn back the clock…

  • avatar
    -Nate

    A fun article and a car I remember fondly .

    I remember a drug dealer in South Pasadena who bought one in the ” Grabber Green ” (I *think* it was called) ~ within 5 years it was relegated to his dog’s house on four flats in the driveway , this drove many local MotorHeads bonkers as he refused to sell it , me I was buying up and scrapping out unwanted Muscle Cars throughout the 1970’s .

    A buddy bought a two year old E Body Challenger and stuffed a 413 into it , made one hell of a road car , prolly why I’m so deaf now but we sure had fun in it =8-) .

    Another buddy’s motto will always be ” MoPar or _NO_ CaR ! ” I recently fixed the ice cold R-12 AC on his ’65 Plymouth Coupe .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    danio3834

    As a multiple Charger owner across eras, I approve. Car bodies back then were truly works of art with few compromises and this was one of the last of the great ones.

    If it were up to me, flush hideaway headlamps in grilles would still be all over the place. I’d like to see one, just one car new car design do it. The doors could even be a ton more reliable with smart motors, or PWM electromechanics!

  • avatar
    Wheeljack

    Part of the reason for the larger body gaps back then was to keep body panels from contacting each other as the body structure twisted and gyrated over bumps and potholes. Cars back then simply did not have the rigid structures that cars of today have. If a car from the 1960’s had modern panel gaps you would have an awful lot of chipped paint on the edges of adjacent panels, and possibly even some tweaked sheetmetal from intermittent contact. You can watch the entire front clip of my buddy’s 1966 Mercury Comet visibly move around when driving on our battered roads here in Detroit.

    • 0 avatar
      nrd515

      You are correct. A friend of mine bought a 69 Camaro about 15 years ago that had just been restored, it was one great looking car with fantastic bodywork, with better panel gaps than I had ever seen a factory car with. Originally a real Z-28, the 302 was long gone, a 383 stroker was in it instead. I thought my ’79 T/A was flexy until I drove it! Soon, there was chipped paint on a lot of panel edges where they rubbed. I wish he had resolved the panel gap issue, but some guy offered him a couple of thousand more than he paid for it, and it was gone. He basically got paid $2000 to drive it for a year.

  • avatar
    midnite_clyde

    As stated earlier the most beautiful car of the era was the 1968 Charger. Later Chargers added distractions (door scoop, chrome wrap around bumper).

    Great article though.

  • avatar
    Scribe39

    I too liked the looks of the Chargers of that era, but as stated, Chrysler was an engineering company back then, and let a lot of wide gaps exist in their cars.

  • avatar
    AMC_CJ

    This generation of Charger always looked far cheaper to me then the previous one, especially the on the interior. The first gen had so much beauty to it, front, back, the interior in itself.

    Don’t know how hard it would be, but I’d love to see a comparison. I think the mid-60’s had it when it came to design. Towards the later part of the decade, things became cheapened up quite a bit.

  • avatar
    mr_min

    Sajeev Sajeev, sadly the B Body Charger just lacks the beautiful proportions of the Australian A-Body Valiant Charger, IMHO.
    The down under version has all the beautiful features without any excess flab.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chrysler_Valiant_Charger

    Having seen both side by side there is no competition. You should see if you can hunt one down to compare

  • avatar
    nrd515

    I remember the first time I saw a ’68 Charger. It was in the Detroit suburbs, and I was 12, the car was just about to go on sale. We saw a red one, and I was yelling at my friend’s dad to turn around and follow it after we passed it. He wouldn’t, and I was seriously pissed off. It turned out OK, about 15 minutes later, we pulled into the restaurant we were going to eat at and there it was, parked right in front. We checked it over for about 15 minutes and then went inside and got a table where we could see it. About an hour after we got there, the car left. When I got home, I pleaded with my dad to buy one, but he ended up with a hopped up Imperial instead. I asked him, “Why do you always have to buy old man cars??”. He looked at me, and said, “Because I AM an old man!”. He was right, he was pretty old, at least I thought so then, but he was a few years younger than I am now! I would never have bought most of the cars he drove, no matter how old I got.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      My own dad had a similar outlook. To him, “Cars are just transportation.” He never had any appreciation for the appearance and sportiness of a car–yet on two occasions bought surprisingly powerful cars that looked sporty–because they were cheap. Meanwhile, when I was out to buy my first car and practically begged him to help me get a ’58 Impala 2-door, his response was, “It’s too big for you; you wouldn’t be able to see over the dashboard,” and promptly bought me a ’64 Chevy II Nova 4-door instead–with MY money! Worse, I then had to pay to have a new engine dropped in because the existing one was cracked through the cylinder walls. I ended up paying more for a car that I didn’t want than I would have for the car I DID want.

      Sheesh! Talk about ‘old men’.

      • 0 avatar
        nrd515

        Sorry, I just saw your post.

        My dad wasn’t like that, he liked them big and powerful, but he also wanted them to be loaded up with toys. He and his two brother had the first Toronados in the area, my dad’s was silver, both my uncles were gold. The Toronado was a good car, and I was sad to see it go for the Imp. The ’68 Imperial he bought instead of a Charger (Or a Roadrunner, that would have been ok too) was loaded up with leather seats and all kinds of stuff and a decent stereo (no 8 track, the wow they had drove him as crazy as it did me, and all he wanted a radio for is to listen to Tiger games on, and the awful Hawaiian music on WJR that he got hooked on when he was in the Pacific in WWII)for it’s time. His cars always had engine work done to them, the Imp had it’s 440 cammed and tuned by a local speed wiz, and it flew. Of course, I had to point out that the Imp was basically the same chassis as the Charger was, and it would have looked better and been a lot faster. The Imp was an ok car in all but one respect, the A/C would get stuck on “Max” and even he had to open the windows to keep comfortable when it did. It was freezing in there. When the Imp was 2 years old, it went, like almost all our cars did, sold to some customer who bought most of his cars from him. He drove the hopped up ’69 Cadillac, in that awful avacado green until he wrecked it in 1973. I think he had the Caddy the longest of any car, about 4 years. That was the end of his driving and he died 6 months later. Once his insurance was pulled, he was never the same.

        About the time I was about to get my license, he asked me what car I wanted. This was in 1972. I told him I wanted a Cuda or a Challenger. I had the money saved up to pay for it, so he said OK, “just no big engine”. I said I would want a 340, and he was ok with that. I didn’t tell him I already had plans to hop it up. He died before I turned 18, and they had quit making Cudas and Challengers. I found a nice leftover Cuda, but mom took too long to put a deposit down for me, so I ended up with a ’74 Roadrunner instead that I ordered and was one of the last of the ’74 cars built. Stupidly, in 1977, I got the bug for a truck and traded it. It’s alive and well in Vegas, all restored, with a stroked 440 in it with the 360 rebuilt and ready to install if he ever wants to. The present owner says I can take a drive in it when/if I ever get to Vegas again.

  • avatar
    WildcatMatt

    I firmly believe there are two cars that made me love the automobile. One is my mom’s ’72 Buick Riviera, the other is the General Lee. So I was pleased to see you take up the Charger for a VV.

    I do think in this case though that your critique leans too heavily on modern expectations which takes the car a little too far out of perspective. The panel gaps here appear pretty typical and the rubber issues could have as much to do with aging/shrinking than sloppy fitting.

    Your comment about reflecting the front treatment on the rear is particularly interesting though. The ’65 Buick Wildcat tried that trick, so now I’m curious what your take on it might be.

  • avatar
    ceipower

    I think the back up lights are a great touch! , It tends to be a mirror image off the dual exhaust pipes. Some of those panel to bumper gaps look to be worse than the factory originals? I suspect the Charger is chock full of rattles and squeaks , so common for those years.


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