October 1970: the refuge of São Paulo’s elite, the Santapaula Iate Clube hosted the presentation of the 1971 Dodge Arrow line, whose main novelty was a two-door coupe, the first national hardtop (without a middle row).
The public was still in awe when Chrysler President Merle Imus showed off a new thing reserved for that year’s Auto Show: the Dodge Charger, which would become one of the iconic luxury and sports cars of the next decade. Brazilians have dreamed of the Charger since 1967, when the American version debuted in the pages of QUATRO RODAS.
The first piece of advertising in Brazil launched the challenge: it called the Americans Plymouth Barracuda, Dodge Challenger, Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Mustang. But really, the Charger was nothing more than a Dart coupe with a sporty look, thanks to a striking horizontal-slice grille that hides the headlights and fog lights. The menacing look was enhanced by a Walrod steering wheel and vinyl-covered roof and rear pillars.
The 5.2-liter V8 engine with a ratio of 7.5: 1 was the Dart’s, but more powerful: 205 hp (SAE, total power) was the result of a dual exhaust. Another similarity was the three-speed manual transmission, with a lever in the direction.
In practice, its performance was almost the same as the R / T version, which had a higher ratio (8.4: 1) and 215 hp. There was plenty of torque in any rev range. Among the options, there was hydraulic steering, automatic transmission and air conditioning, but lovers of high performance preferred front disc brakes and servo brakes and a four-speed manual transmission with a lever on the floor, struck by individual seats. Stability was favored by a firmer suspension: a front stabilizer bar ensured a firm and unyielding ride.
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Undeniably, the Charger was the king of the road: it maintained top speed for hours without overheating or using extra fuel. Opala tried, but its 140 hp (SAE) six-cylinder was no match. The controversy would only get worse in 1973, with the debut of the Ford Maverick and its 197 hp 5.0 V8.
In the same year, the Charger received the name LS: restyled, the headlights became double, still hidden by the grille, now two and with a more closed and aggressive profile. The rear got redesigned taillights and the interior stood out with a plastic panel imitating cherry wood and with new lettering on the instruments, with a remote control of the mirrors and with a switch / lighting on the arrow key. Sport wheels and an engine for the R/T version became optional.
The Charger LS received a further upgrade in 1974, when it adopted the hood and interior trim from the Dodge GranCoupe. The automatic transmission received a selector lever on the console and a torque converter lock, eliminating mechanical losses due to slippage. The model in the photo is a 1971 model that belongs to São Paulo collector Tânia Pereira: “This charger has been with me since 2001. It was love at first sight: I drive it to all the past events”.
Without offering the R/T’s performance and Gran Coupe status, the Charger came to an end in 1975, when it lost the LS denomination. With only 55 coupes produced, it is one of the rarest of the national Dodge cars: Chrysler’s sports family would be represented by the R/T until 1980, when it finally accepted the market’s preference for compact sports cars with low utility.
|to move||5 212 cm3, 2 valves per cylinder, single camshaft in block, dual barrel carburetor feed|
|strength||205 hp (SAE) at 4 400 rpm|
|Torque||41.5 mkgf at 2400 rpm|
|Exchange||3-speed manual, rear wheel drive|
|measurements||height, 496 cm; width, 181 cm; height, 139 cm; wheel, 282 cm|
|tires||7.35 x 14, diagonal|
|Price (December 1970)||Cr $ 32,000|
|Price (updated IGP-DI/FGV)||R$ 289,807|
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