Dodge Charger History (1968)
Article by Mark Trotta
Going away from the fastback design of the original Charger, the body of the 1968 Charger was a curvy notchback with integrated front bumper, a lower hood-line, and "flying buttress" rear window.
The second-generation Dodge Charger retained its hidden headlights, replacing the former electric rotating assemblies with simpler, vacuum-operated covers.
Dual scallops were added to each door, with a race-track inspired quick-fill gas cap located on top of the left quarter panel. A spoiler became an integral part of the rear deck.
Tail-lights, formerly full-length, were now a dual circular design.
Added to the line-up was the Dodge Charger R/T, which proved to be a winner in both sales and performance.
Sharing the B-body platform with the Coronet, the Charger's suspension consisted of torsion bars up front with leaf springs in the rear. Weight was up slightly from the 1967 models, with a base Charger weighing in at 3,575 pounds.
Drum brakes all around were standard and measured 11" x 3" in front and 11" x 2.5" in back. Power front disc brakes were optional, as was power steering.
1968 Charger Interior
Available in six different colors, the interior was offered with either front bench or bucket seats with a console. Map pockets were added to both doors for added convenience.
Air conditioning was optional, as was cruise control, power door locks, tachometer, rear window defogger, and a wood-grain steering wheel.
Although the body was completely redesigned, the potent array of large V-8 engines remained.
1968 Charger Engine Options
Base engine for the Charger was a two-barrel 318ci motor with 9.2:1 compression ratio, producing 230 horsepower. In mid-year, the slant-six 225ci engine became available, and was a no-cost option if purchasers wanted one.
Four performance V8's were offered.
A 383ci V8 (4.25" bore by 3.375" stroke) was offered in two versions. The two-barrel motor had a compression ratio of 9.2:1 and produced 290 horsepower. A four-barrel carb and 10.0:1 compression came with the high-performance version, with a power output of 330 horsepower.
The 440ci V8 (4.32" bore by 3.75" stroke) was rated at 375 horsepower. A new Carter AVS 4-barrel replaced the smaller AFB style.
The 426ci Hemi V8 (4.25" bore by 3.75" stroke) had two four-barrel carbs and ran a C.R. of 10.25:1. Power output was rated at 425 horsepower.
Three transmissions were available; a three-speed manual, optional 4-speed manual and 3-speed Torqueflite automatic.
1968 Charger R/T
Sharing features with the Coronet R/T introduced a year earlier, standard equipment on Charger R/T models included heavy-duty suspension and brakes, F70-14 Red Streak tires, and Torqueflite three-speed automatic transmission.
Exterior features included wrap-around "bumble bee" stripes across the rear deck and down the quarter panels.
The 375 horsepower 440ci "Magnum" motor was standard, as were dual exhausts (extra-cost on non-R/T Chargers).
The 426ci Hemi motor was optional, as was a four-speed manual transmission with Hurst shifter. Hemi sales were low, making up less than 500 of the 17,000 R/T Chargers sold.
New safety features included a power-window safety lockout, recessed ashtrays, and padding around the lower portion of the dashboard for leg and knee protection. Manually-operated latches were added to the front seat-backs to prevent them from pitching forward during sudden stops.
Optional safety equipment included front seat head restraints, lap belts for center seat passengers, shoulder belts front and rear, and a padded steering wheel.
Total production for the 1968 Dodge Charger was 96,100. About 75 percent of the models sold were ordered with a vinyl top.
Bullitt Chase Scene
For motorheads, it was the ten-minute-long car chase between a black Charger and a dark green Mustang that makes the 1968 movie 'Bullitt' unforgettable. Directed by Peter Yates, actor Steve McQueen stars as Police Lieutenant Frank Bullitt, who drives a 1968 Mustang GT.
Many regard the chase scene in 'Bullitt' as one of the best ever filmed.
Filmed entirely on location through the streets of San Francisco, the Charger was driven by stunt man Bill Hickman, who also played one of the hit-men Mcqueen was chasing in the movie. Hickman also helped choreograph the chase. He and McQueen had practiced high-speed close-quarter driving before the actual filming.
For the movie, a pair of four-speed, triple-black Charger R/T's were purchased from a local Chrysler dealer. The 440 engine provided plenty of power for the 100+ mph chase scenes, and was left mostly stock.
The vinyl roof on the Charger leads many people to believe it is a standard Charger, but it was an R/T model with the tail-stripes deleted. Suspension upgrades for the high-speed chase included modified torsion bars, gusseted control arms and heavy-duty shocks.
One of the Chargers (as well as one of the two Mustangs) was fitted with a full roll-cage.
After the success of the movie and an increase in Charger sales, Chrysler became more inclined to donate future vehicles to Warner Brothers.