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Dodge cars, 1967-1980

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Dodge cars, 1967-1980

by the allpar staff

In 1966, Chrysler Corporation published histories of each of their existing brands, with a Dodge 1914-1966 book (provided to us by J.P. Joans). The histories focused on one car per year. We are continuing their work here, following roughly the same format, though the years after 1966 were much more complex; the product line proliferated, and Dodge stretched from Valiant clones to Chrysler clones. No longer was there a single car, "the Dodge," in different trim levels (this trend had actually earlier, with Dart and Lancer).

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1967 DODGE POLARA was restyled in the "fuselage look," growing by 6.3 inches and gaining a blind quarter hardtop roofline.

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1968 DODGE CHARGER and Coronet went to a highly acclaimed "Coke bottle" side profile; Charger dropped its unconventional rear styling, and was now V8 only. Dodge set a sales record with a roughly 7% market share.

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1969 DODGE POLARA/MONACO: The "fuselage look" now extended to the Polara and Monaco. Though it didn't sell well, Dodge launched the Charger Daytona, a 180-mph stock car, with a choice of 440 or 426 Hemi, intending to dominate NASCAR.

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1970 DODGE CHALLENGER was on a new "E" platform combining characteristics of A and B bodies; owners complain of poor cornering and assembly, but while sales were poor at the time, the Challenger was to become a classic.

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1971 DODGE DEMON was an imitation of the incredibly successful Plymouth Duster. It did not sell nearly as well, despite having the same engine line, including the hot 340 V8. The rest of the Dodge line was streamlined, under the Dart, Charger, and Coronet names, dropping the slow-selling Monaco and Polara. The company reported net horsepower for all engines.

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1972 Dodge Challenger brought in the "sad mouth" grille. The company no longer reported gross horsepower.

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New Dodge Darts had a "pedestrian poker" wedge grille and ridged hood. Safety bumpers were standard and all Chrysler vehicles now had electronic ignitions. Demon magically became Dart Sport.

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Polara was dropped, leaving the newly restyled 1974 Dodge Monaco as the only "true Dodge" - that is, a Dodge on a traditional wheelbase and body.

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The 1975 Dodge Charger SE shared styling with the Chrysler Cordoba, but never came near the sales. NASCAR racers used the 1974 Dodge Charger in 1975, amassing 14 Grand National wins. This body style would support a Charger Daytona package. The big Dodge Monaco dropped down onto the Coronet body (the Coronet was a hardtop only in 1975 and gone in 1976).

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The big news for 1976 was the popular Dodge Aspen, nearly identical to the Plymouth Volare, replacing the long-running Dart. Its popularity was very bad for Chrysler due to rampant quality problems, mainly resolved by 1978. There were two Chargers, the new SE and a renamed Colonet hardtop.

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For 1977, the main changes were in nameplates; the Royal Monaco was dropped, the Coronet name was dropped, Charger was dropped; Diplomat was new, based closely on Volare.

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The big news for 1978 was a new Dodge, based on a Chrysler Europe car but heavily Americanized: the Omni, twin of the Plymouth Horizon. The four-cylinder hit a market sweet spot and was an instant success.

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Charger SE and Monaco did not return for 1979, but the company showed off a new R-bodied car, the St. Regis. Oddly created to be just slightly larger than the B-bodies, yet smaller than the C-bodies, the R-body family had been expensive to create but did not sell well.

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The Magnum had been unpopular and was replaced quickly by the 1980 Mirada, a car loosely based on the old Volare. It was not a barn-storming success, either - but then, no rear wheel drive Chrysler car was in these days, when customers demanded gas mileage above just about anything else. The company would soon deliver.

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