Name: 1975 Dodge Charger SE 318 V-8 TorqueFlite
Year(s) Produced: 1975-1978
Number Built: (?)
Body Type: 2-door hardtop/coupe
Engine: Chrysler LA-series V-8 318
Power: 150 hp @ 4000 RPM
0-60mph: 13.1 seconds
Top Speed: 109 mph
Transmission: 3-speed automatic
Length/width/height: 215.3 in./76.3 in./52.6 in.
Wheelbase: 115 in.
Base Price: US$3,957 (NADA)
Current Value: US$17,000 (Hagerty)
The years 1966 to 1974 witnessed the steady climb of the muscle car era. However, this almost came to an end when patronage for performance cars gradually declined. This is due in part of the government’s enactment of stricter fuel emission standards which seriously impacted the use of powerful V8 engines that consume gasoline by the gallons. Compounding the problem was the gasoline itself: there was a severe oil crisis during that time. However, it seems that the larger share of responsibility came from the general public. They probably have gone soft, no thanks to Dodge’s introduction of a fourth generation model in 1975.
Enter the concept of “personal luxury coupe”. Frankly speaking, there is nothing luxurious about it whether you’re a common folk or someone who wishes to flaunt his gold. It was a form of branding, a marketing campaign so to speak that appealed immensely to the baby boomers of that era. The new, “redesigned” (aka watered down specs) of the Charger was Dodge’s answer to what the general public thought it wished to have at that point of time. It cleverly convinced most people to trade performance for the vague concept of experiencing a luxurious ride.
In retrospect, it probably would have been best if Dodge had simply retired the series after 1974. But instead, they came up with a rehash of a rear-wheel-drive Charger by the middle of 1981. By then the Charger name came back, only this time it was for a front-wheel-drive economy car with a Volkswagen engine.
Watch this video commercial from 1975’s Dodge “Hey Charger!” Notice the ads appeal to status and recognition.