Charger, Challenger and More: Iconic Dodge Vehicles

1970 Dodge Super Bee

1970 Dodge Super Bee by George (CC BY-SA)

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1970 Dodge Super Bee
1970 Dodge Super Bee by George (CC BY-SA)

The Road Rolls On

A lot has changed in the American auto industry since John and Horace Dodge decided to quit building parts for other automakers and go into the car-building business for themselves in 1913. The Dodge brothers quickly built their company into a contender among Detroit automakers, but they didn’t enjoy success long — both died in 1920. By the end of the decade, their heirs had sold out to Chrysler, which also owned the Plymouth and DeSoto brands. Today, Dodge and Chrysler both are owned by Stellantis, an international conglomerate that also includes Fiat and Peugeot, and Dodge is known mostly for its minivans and muscle cars. Take a look at some of most iconic cars, trucks, and other vehicles produced by Dodge over the decades.

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1915 Dodge Brothers Touring Car
1915 Dodge Brothers Touring Car by DougW (CC BY)

Dodge 30-35 (1914-16)

The first vehicle to roll off the Dodge Brothers Co. assembly lines in Hamtramck, Michigan, was the 30-35 touring car. It had a four-cylinder engine that produced a maximum of 35 horsepower, considerably more powerful than rival Ford’s Model T. Some of these vehicles were acquired by the U.S. Army, leading to Dodge's producing cars and trucks for the military during World War I.

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Power Wagon WM-300. This model was sold into the mid-1960s
Power Wagon WM-300. This model was sold into the mid-1960s by dave_7 (CC BY-SA)

Power Wagon (1946-80)

Four-wheel-drive cars and trucks are commonplace today, but in the mid-1940s, they were unheard of. Using the knowledge gained from building vehicles for the U.S. military, Dodge in 1946 unveiled the Power Wagon, considered to be the first four-wheel-drive truck built for the civilian market. Various iterations of the Power Wagon were produced through the 1980 model year, when it was replaced by the Ram.

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Dodge Dart Swinger 1971
Dodge Dart Swinger 1971 by Mark Brooks (CC BY-NC-ND)

Dart (1959-76; 2013-16)

The Dart was Dodge’s entry-level sedan. During its heyday in the mid-1960s, the Dart was available as a coupe, sedan, wagon, and convertible, just like its rivals the Ford Falcon and Chevy Nova. By the time the last Dart rolled off the assembly line in the mid-’70s, more than a half million had been sold. The Dart name was revived during the past decade, but the compact sedan never caught on with drivers the same way its predecessor did.

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1970 Dodge Super Bee
1970 Dodge Super Bee by George (CC BY-SA)

Super Bee (1968-70)

By the late ’60s the era of the muscle car was going full-throttle, and Dodge was in the thick of it. The Super Bee was the company’s entry-level muscle car and a close sibling of the Plymouth Road Runner. Buyers had their choice of three V-8 engines, including the legendary 426-cubic-inch, 7-liter Hemi, which could churn out a blistering 425 base horsepower.

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1969 Dodge Charger
1969 Dodge Charger by Greg Gjerdingen (CC BY)

Charger (1966-78, 81-87, 2005-present)

Among classic muscle cars, the Charger ranks up there with other legends of the era. Buyers could customize theirs with a range of engines, including the legendary 7.2-liter 440-cubic-inch V-8, known as the Magnum. Chargers have appeared on film (“Bullitt” and “Fast and the Furious”) and television (“The Dukes of Hazzard”). The Charger sedans of the mid-’70s iterations were considerably less muscular, and the 1980s version morphed into a quirky two-door fastback. The current iteration, with optional high-performance models, is a return to form.

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1970 Dodge Challenger T/A
1970 Dodge Challenger T/A by Greg Gjerdingen (CC BY)

Challenger (1969-74, 77-83, 2008-present)

From the start, it was clear to drivers that this Dodge meant business, with an array of powerful engine options available, including the legendary V-8 Hemi. (Today, the rare ’70 and ’71 Challenger R/Ts are among the most collectible muscle cars.) The Challengers of the late ’70s and early ’80s — rebadged Mitsubishi fastback coupes — were a shadow of their muscular predecessors. But recent Challengers are very much in the tradition of that first generation of muscle cars. The 6.2-liter V-8 engine inside the limited-edition 2018 Challenger SRT Demon produces a whopping 840 horsepower and has been clocked doing 0 to 60 mph in 2.3 seconds.

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Dodge Club Cab

D Series Pickup (1960-93)

Dodge isn’t known for innovative pickups the way it is for muscle cars, but one truck model, the Club Cab, introduced in the early ’70s truly was ahead of its time. The third generation of the full-size D Series truck, introduced in 1972, was the first to feature an extended cab, giving drivers extra room to stash cargo inside (or maybe a small passenger). A 1981 refresh introduced the Ram model, which eventually became Dodge’s mainstay pickup.

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Dodge Ramcharger
Dodge Ramcharger by Rutger van der Maar (CC BY)

Ramcharger (1974-2001)

Years before people knew what an SUV was, Dodge built a full-size, four-wheel-drive, four-door vehicle based on a truck platform and dubbed it the Ramcharger. It was one of a rare breed of vehicles that included the Chevy C5 Blazer, the Jeep Wagoneer, and a few years later, the Ford Bronco.

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1983 Dodge Aries SE
1983 Dodge Aries SE by dave_7 (CC BY)

Aries (1981-89)

Along with the minivan, this vehicle and its Plymouth sibling the Reliant (also known as K-cars) was responsible for rescuing Chrysler Corp. from financial collapse. With front-wheel drive and four-cylinder engines, the Aries was a far cry from the rear-wheel, six-cylinder Dodge Aspen it replaced — and buyers noticed. About 2 million Aries and Reliant sedans and wagons were sold during the production run.

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1989 Dodge Ram
1989 Dodge Ram by Scheinwerfermann (CC BY-SA)

Ram Pickup (1981-present)

These days, Ram is a standalone brand within the Stellantis stable, but it began as Dodge’s line of full-size pickups. Although the first generation of trucks wasn’t especially popular with buyers when compared to Ford and Chevy sales, the Ram came into its own in the mid-1990s with a top-to-bottom second-generation redesign. Over the years, the Ram has spawned a number of models, including plug-in hybrids, diesel-, and gas-powered engines, and limited-edition high-performance models.

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1987 Dodge Daytona Shelby Z
Wikimedia Commons

Daytona (1984-93)

As Chrysler Corp. came roaring back from the brink of financial collapse, plans were made for a new, front-wheel-drive sports car to be based on a modified K-car platform. What made the Daytona (and its twin the Chrysler Laser) unique was the fact that it was only available with a turbo-charged four-cylinder engine; a V-6 engine wasn’t an option until the 1990 model. A planned high-performance Shelby model using a Lamborghini-built V-8, dubbed the Deceptizone, never made it past the prototype stage.

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1995 Dodge Caravan Sportwagon
1995 Dodge Caravan Sportwagon by Alden Jewell (CC BY)

Caravan and Grand Caravan (1984-2020)

Minivans may not be very sexy, but they transformed the entire automotive industry and undoubtedly saved Chrysler Corp. from irrelevance in the 1980s. The Caravan and its Chrysler and Plymouth siblings offered drivers something new: the capacity of a van with the maneuverability of a car, one that could fit comfortably in a garage (unlike many full-sized vans). The Caravan was also one of Dodge’s longest-lived nameplates, going through five iterations before being discontinued after the 2020 model year.


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Dodge Viper SRT-10
Dodge Viper SRT-10 by Robin Corps (CC BY-SA)

Viper RT/10 (1992-2010, 2012-17)

By the early ’90s, the era of the Detroit muscle cars seemed like a distant memory. Then Dodge unveiled the Viper, and the automotive world rediscovered how sexy sheer horsepower can be. Loosely based on the legendary AC Shelby Cobra coupes of the early 1960s, the Viper boasted an 8-liter V-10 engine that produced a whopping 400 horsepower. The original model was sold without air conditioning, lacked exterior door handles, and had zip-out vinyl side windows instead of glass.

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1998 Dodge Intrepid 3.2 V6
1998 Dodge Intrepid 3.2 V6 by Kieran White (CC BY)

Intrepid (1993-2004)

Chrysler’s LH-body full-size sedans, Intrepid among them, turned lots of heads when they first appeared in showrooms. Their aerodynamic “cab forward” design — which extended the wheelbase to allow for a roomier interior — was a radical departure from Chrysler Corp.’s boxy vehicles of the 1980s like the Dodge Dynasty, which the Intrepid succeeded.

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Dodge Neon
Wikimedia Commons

Neon (1993-2005)

With its big-eyed headlights and bulbous body (not to mention the clever “Say hi to Neon” ad campaign), it was hard to resist calling this subcompact cute. But cute it was — and popular. The subcompact sold more than 2 million units during its sales run.

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