They called it The Charger By Dodge, but it wasn't like any Charger we're familiar with. This was a Chrysler concept car, built in 1964 and based on a Polara. As you can see from these photos, the car was big, round and very futuristic. It featured a "competition height windshield" which is just tall enough to deflect airflow over the driver. Even as big as it is, the concept car is only a two-seater. Up front, there is a huge air scoop on the hood. The roll bar serves a dual function as it also houses the padded headrests. Notice there are two pairs of bumper guards on both the front and rear chrome bumpers.
The interior is the most impressive part of this machine. The specially pleated seats and door panels are plushly upholstered in charcoal gray leather. There is a "cockpit divider" which is a padded crash panel dividing the driver's compartment from the passenger's compartment. It is also upholstered in gray leather and has the same pleating as the seats, plus a Dodge ornament and lettering. The black dash has a tach mounted right in the center. The steering wheel is walnut with brushed aluminum trim. The carpet is black cut pile and all pedals are trimmed with chrome.
The plexiglass side windows are fixed in position at "competition height". The ornaments on both lower quarter panels (as shown below) are actually removable covers, held on by an air cleaner wing nut in the center (which ingeniously looks like a Dodge emblem).
When removed, they reveal the exhaust ports at the rear of car's doors. Removing the covers re-routes the exhaust so it bypasses the mufflers, which reduces back pressure and improves engine breathing for use on the drag strip.
The concept car is powered by a 365 HP 426 wedge with a single 4bbl carb. According to the original Chrysler brochure, the drag strip Ramcharger engine with 2X4bbl carbs, rated at 425 HP, could be used after modifying the car's lower hood panel.
The magnificent machine shown in this story is an exact replica of the original Chrysler concept car, built and owned by Jim Rodebaugh of Ochelata, OK. Jim's specialty is building Chargers so he could hardly resist the temptation to dive into this project. At the 1997 Show Me Mopars meet, Jim purchased an original dealer brochure featuring the concept car. A year later, he returned to that meet with the completed car!
Now remember, to build a machine like this one was not a simple matter of gathering up reproduction and restoration parts from your favorite vendor. Nor were there any parts or technical help available from Chrysler. Jim had to use a ton of ingenuity and rely on his past experience in building cars to put this special project together, and his only blueprint was the very vague dealer brochure he had purchased.
Jim says the front lower fenders and valance panel are the upper rear quarters and deck lid from a 1972 Road Runner. The Road Runner's original trunk lock, hidden behind the front license plate, now serves as the Charger's ignition disabler! A lot of hand-fabrication was involved in getting some of the parts needed.
Jim's concept car is finished in light silver with black accent stripes. As you can see from these photos, the car looks equally cool from any angle. The Charger's good looks do not only get appreciated at car shows though, as Jim also enjoys short drives in the beast!
The concept car has a wheelbase of 119 inches, length of 206.5 inches, width of 74.9 inches and is 47.75 inches in height. The turning circle is measured at 45 feet.
A very big THANKS! to Jim for sharing this wonderful car with us.
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