Dodge - Charger
In 1964, when the Pontiac GTO started the American muscle car era with strong sales, the rest of GM's divisions were quick to jump on the muscle car bandwagon. Buick followed with the Gran Sport and even Oldsmobile brought out the 442. Dodge didn't have a performance image muscle car of their own. Burt Bouwkamp, Chief Engineer for Dodge during the 1960s related his experiences during a speech in July 2004. "Lynn Townsend was at odds with the Dodge Dealers and wanted to do something to please them. So in 1965 he asked me to come to his office. He noted that one of the Dodge Dealer Council requests was for a Barracuda type vehicle. The specific request for a Mustang type vehicle was not as controversial to Lynn. His direction to me was to give them a specialty car but he said 'for God's sake don't make it a Barracuda competitor. "So the 1966 Charger was born. "We built a Charger 'idea' car which we displayed at auto shows in 1965 to stimulate market interest in the concept. It was the approved design but we told the press and auto show attendees that it was just an "idea" and that we would build it if they liked it. It was pre-ordained that they would like it." The concept car received a positive response, so Dodge put it into production.
A famous Charger was the four-speed, triple-black 1968 Charger R/T used in the movie Bullitt
. The chase scene between Steve McQueen's fastback Mustang GT and the hitmen's Charger R/T is popularly regarded as one of the greatest car chase scenes ever filmed. During filming of the scene, the Charger proved to be extremely durable. When performing the various jumps over the hills in San Francisco, the Mustang GT encountered several suspension problems, while the suspension of the Chargers used never failed once.
The television series The Dukes of Hazzard (1979-1985) featured a 1969 Dodge Charger that was named The General Lee, often noted as being the most recognizable car in the world. "The General" sported the Confederate battle flag painted on the roof and the words "GENERAL LEE" over each door. The windows were always open, as the doors were welded shut. The number "01" is painted on both doors. Also, when the horn button was pressed, it played the first 12 notes from the de facto Confederate States anthem "Dixie's Land". The muscle car performed spectacular jumps in almost every episode, and the show's popularity produced a surge of interest in the car. The show itself purchased hundreds of Chargers for stunts, as they generally destroyed at least one car per episode. (Real Chargers stopped being used for jumps at the end of the show's sixth season, and were begrudgingly replaced with miniatures.)