REVIEW – The ’68 Dodge Charger

Friday, Dec 06, 2013


There’s an actor in Hollywood that’s been in more than 55 movies since the sixties, often playing a convincing villain, but sadly, has never won an Oscar, despite starring in everything from Bullitt, Cannonball, and Fast & Furious to Foresaken, Payback, and Blue Velvet. It’s the beautifully menacing Dodge Charger.

American muscle cars are funny things. They each have a place in life. Camaros were for the young high school kids majoring in shop class, Mustangs were for the popular team quarterback, Chevelles were for the blue-collar guy with a double-car garage and Corvettes were for the rich kids. But the Charger? The Charger was made for the man planning a bank heist.

When our striking ’68 Charger was delivered to CCC, I immediately ran no less than three-dozen morally questionable and certainly illegal adventures through my head.  Every caper I’ve ever joked about no longer felt like a laughing matter. With the Charger, not only could I knock off  the Parisi bakery delivery truck that passes by my apt every morning, but I could do it and still be the villain that everyone cheered for. Bonny and Clyde had their cool caper car, and now I had mine too. But there would be no caper just yet. While she looked gorgeous with her triple black paint and creased features, mechanically, she didn’t cut Zac’s mustard. On the lift she went, for a three-month mechanical restoration job.

Now, off the lift an on terra firma, the ’68 is ready for your own weekend capers, but first–the test. Turn the key and the Charger quickly cranks to life. If the looks are menacing, the low, lumbering idle note coming from the hippo-sized v8 up front carries its own threatening tune to match. From behind the wheel, a few things become more obvious than from the outside: The interior is brand new and perfect. The front seat is so big, you can take a small family along for the fun and never use the rear seat. The other thing one notices is the enormity of that glorious, black hood. It’s as if there’s a California king mattress in front of you along for the ride. The paint so beautiful, the light reflects off the expansive hood, turning black to blue. But enough of that.

Drop it in gear, give it the gas and off you go. For a big car, the steering is incredibly light, which makes navigating through the city streets very easy actually. Visibility is totally unobstructed and the deletion of the b-pillars gives the car both a fantastic profile as well as easy over-the-shoulder-blind-spot viewing. The Charger idles clean and evenly. People at red lights stop and stare. Some give you an overly energetic thumbs up, some run for cover, but everyone, and I mean everyone, takes a photo with their phone.  Before you drive it, fix your hair; you’re going to be in a lot of Facebook posts before the day is done.

A mundane left-hand turn onto Delancy for a run over the Billyburg Bridge in the Charger suddenly becomes anything but. A stab at the gas, a touch of counter steer on the light wheel and smoke pours off the rear as the V8 overpowers the B.F. Goodrich-shod wheels and the tires cut very loose. Stay on the power and the wheels keep spinning, but a straight line is where the Charger is most at home. Get on the gas and the rear of the car stands up a bit to show off those massive haunches and off you go in a hell-tornado of satanic sounds, the automotive equivalent of playing a Judas Priest record backwards. Glorious.

But the Charger is more than its big bang looks and sound. It’s also extremely comfortable. The interior is more than roomy, the new seats are cushy, the air blows cold and the radio connects to your device, allowing you to assemble a whole getaway theme song play list.

Classic Cars, Reviews