Dodge Charger

1974 Dodge Charger (Third Generation: 1971-74)

In 1971, the all-new third generation Charger debuted. It was completely restyled with a new split grille and more rounded "fuselage" bodystyle. The interiors now looked more like those of the E-body and were now shared by the Plymouth B-body. No longer standard, the hidden headlights were now optional. A rear spoiler and a "Ramcharger" hood made the option lists for the first time. A special scoop was mounted in the hood, directly above the air cleaner. If the driver wanted to draw clean air directly into the carburetor, he flipped the vacuum switch under the dash and the scoop popped up. The Plymouth Road Runner used this device and called it the "Air Grabber" hood. While this device had been used on the Coronet R/T and Super Bees, it had never appeared on the Charger.

Dodge also merged its Coronet and Charger lines. From 1971, all four-door B-bodies were badged as Coronets and all two-door B-bodies as Chargers. Thus for one year only, the Charger Super Bee became part of the Charger stable. From 1971–1974, Charger models used the Coronet's VIN prefix of "W".

The Dodge Super Bee made the move from the Coronet line to the Charger line for 1971 only, then the model was discontinued. Several other models were carried over from 1970, including the 500. The R/T and SE versions carried over as well, but the R/T's popularity was on the downslide thanks to higher insurance costs. Only 63 Hemi versions were built, and 2,659 were built with other engines that year. Rapidly rising insurance rates, combined with higher gasoline prices, reduced sales of muscle cars and 1971 was the last year of availability for the 426 Hemi "Elephant engine" in any car. 1971 also saw the end of the high-performance 440 Six-Pack engine (although some early Dodge literature (August 1971 press) stated that this engine was available for 1972, it was pulled at the last minute. However, a few factory installed six-pack Chargers and Road Runners were built early in the production run). In the Super Bee's final year, the 340 became a $44 option over the standard, low-compression 383.

Many of the "Hi-Impact" colors would disappear after the 1971 model year; this also created the 1971-only "Citron Yella".

The 1972 Charger bowed with a new "Rallye" option to replace the former R/T version. The SE was differentiated from other 1972 Chargers by a unique formal roof treatment and hidden headlights. The 440 engines were still available, but now had to use the net horsepower rating instead of the gross horsepower rating. This would cause their horsepower ratings to go down substantially, although the net horsepower rating was actually more realistic. Also beginning in 1972, all engines featured lowered compression ratios to permit the use of regular leaded or unleaded gasoline rather than leaded premium fuel as in past years due to increasing tighter emissions regulations. A low-compression 440 with a 4-barrel carburetor became the top engine (though rumours persist that a few 440 6 pack engines were installed and sold before it was determined they did not meet emissions regulations); and the use of the Pistol-Grip 4-speed Hurst manual shifter was limited to 340, and 400 Magnum engines. 1972 would also be the final year for the Dana 60 differential, available only behind a 440/4 speed, and only with the 3.54 rear end ratio.

The only remaining "Hi-Impact" color choices were "Hemi Orange" (EV2) and "Top Banana" (FY1) , the latter of which hung around under different names through 1974 .

Unusual triple opera window on 1973 Dodge Charger SE
The 1973 Chargers sported all new sheet metal, though to the untrained eye, the rear roof C-pillars looked like the only difference from the 1972s. Also new were vertically slatted taillights and new grills. Hidden headlights were dropped, even as an option. The 318 was still standard, with the 340 (available only on the Rallye), 400 ( 2 and 4 bbl. ) and 440 remaining as options. The SE models had a new roof treatment that had a "triple opera window" surrounded by a canopy-style vinyl roof. All other models had a new quarter window treatment, ditching its AMC Gremlin-style window in favor of a more conventional design. Sales this year were around 108,000 units, the highest ever for the 1971-74 Charger generation. 1973 Chargers, and all Chrysler products, were equipped with 5 mph bumpers, front and rear.

The 1973 Charger has achieved some fame since its use by Michael Westen in the USA Networks series Burn Notice. The car, a black model with an air scoop and all white interior, was left to Michael by his father, and has appeared since the third episode of the first season. It was sacrificed during the fourth season finale by being blown up to keep Vaughn's men at bay, and was rebuilt in the fourth episode of the fifth season.

1974 was a virtual rerun of 1973. Minor changes included all new color choices, a softer grain pattern on interior surfaces, and a slight increase in the size of the rubber bumper tips (brought on by ever-changing federal front and rear impact regulations). The biggest news was that the 340 option was dropped and the 360 4bbl replaced the 340 as the small block performance engine. All other engine options remained the same. Several performance rear end ratios, including a 3.23 "Sure Grip" rear end were still available. A four speed transmission was still an option except with the 440 engine. Emphasis in these years turned to luxury instead of performance, hence the high sales figures for the SE model, but one could still equip a Charger with respectable performance options if so inclined and turn in decent performance figures for the day. The Charger, however, was no longer considered a performance car, and was gradually turned into personal luxury car, because all manufacturers "saw the handwriting on the wall." The muscle car era came to a close, and the 1974 Dodge Charger would be the final year.

The 1971-74 Chargers were campaigned in NASCAR, with Buddy Baker, Bobby Issac, Dave Marcis, and Richard Petty scoring several wins. Petty won 25 races with this body style bewtween 1972 and 1977 (NASCAR allowed the Chargers to run a few years longer than normal, as Chrysler did not have anything else to replace it). It is Richard Petty's self proclaimed favorite car that he ran in his career.

Source: Wikipedia, 2011

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