New Year’s Day, 1966 – As football fans clicked on their TVs to watch UCLA battle Michigan State in the Rose Bowl, little did they realize that actress Pam Austin would soon ask them to join a rebellion.

The Dodge Rebellion.

We spotted this particular Charger at the Summit Racing Retail Super Store outside Akron, Ohio last summer. We can tell it’s a 1966 edition, because it lacks the fender-mounted turn signals that appeared in 1967. (Image/OnAllCylinders – Patrick Miller)

The all-new Charger launched with a clever advertising campaign that heralded Dodge’s performance makeover, “The Dodge Rebellion,” which enticed car buyers to ditch their dull rides and get behind the wheel of a sporty, modern Mopar.

So long before Bill Hickman, Bo & Luke, and Dominic Toretto drove their second-gen Chargers into fame, it was these 1966-67 models that carried the Dodge performance flag. (Though a first-gen was Obi-Wan’s ride of choice.)

Out back, the 1966 Charger bowed with a signature wide tail lamp treatment—a design cue that would reappear on later generations, including today’s modern LX/LD platform Chargers. (Image/OnAllCylinders – Patrick Miller)

The all-new Charger was Dodge’s corporate response to the burgeoning Pony and Muscle Car segments, which was ignited with the launch of cars like the Pontiac GTO, Ford Mustang, and Plymouth Barracuda back in 1964.

Dodge based the Charger on the larger B-Body Coronet intermediate, instead of an A-Body compact as Plymouth had done with the Valiant-derived Barracuda. Using the different chassis was probably a smart decision to avoid competition between Dodge and Plymouth, and allowed Dodge to position the Charger a bit upmarket.

As evidenced by these electric power window(!) switches, the Charger went upscale to poach sales in the luxury coupe market occupied by cars like the Ford Thunderbird and Buick Riviera. (Image/OnAllCylinders – Patrick Miller)

But while the Charger was mechanically similar to the Coronet, it had a long, sweeping fastback roofline that created a sporty silhouette. A unique full-length grill and hidden headlights also added to the Charger’s performance look.

Though it began in 1966, the Dodge Rebellion advertising campaign ran for several years. In this ad from 1967, you can see how, despite sharing the B-Body platform, the Coronet and Charger wore distinct sheetmetal. (Image/Dodge)

And to further cement its go-fast resume, you could only get a Charger with a V8. In fact, buyers could check the options sheet for either the 318, 361, 383, or—wait for it—the new 426 street Hemi.

Yup, you could get the soon-to-be-legendary 426 in the 1966 Charger, though it was a pretty rare option and only a few hundred left the factory with an Elephant.

The 1966 Charger we spotted was running an upgraded Mopar Small Block, retrofitted with FiTech Throttle Body Fuel Injection. (Image/Summit Racing – Patrick Miller)

The performance vibe carried over to the cockpit too. The 1966 Dodge Charger featured a special instrument cluster that didn’t have traditional incandescent lamps, but instead used electroluminescence to make the gauges glow a super-cool bluish green at night.

A full length center console bisected the entire interior, and the rear seats folded nearly flat to create a large cargo area behind the driver.

Here’s a better look at the Charger’s unique gauge cluster, albeit in the daytime. Note the Pistol Grip Shifter and, GASP, awesome hood mounted tach! (Image/OnAllCylinders – Patrick Miller)

For 1967, the Charger carried on mostly unchanged. In addition to those aforementioned fender-mount turn signals, you could get it with a vinyl roof, and the interior ditched its prominent center console to free up space inside.

The Chrysler 440 engine also appeared on the options sheet. It slotted in above the 383, which eliminated the 361.

Though it appeared earlier in the decade, the Charger helped sear Dodge’s triangular “Fratzog” logo into the minds of gearheads across the United States. (Image/OnAllCylinders – Patrick Miller)

All told, while the First-Gen Charger didn’t replicate the success Ford enjoyed with the Mustang, it did sell well enough to justify a watershed redesign in 1968—and the Dodge Rebellion’s flagship would soon rumble into musclecar history.

This particular Charger rides on a modern version of the classic Mopar Rallye Wheel. And if you look closely, you’ll see a disc brake conversion kit peeking through the spokes too. We bet this thing is a bona fide street monster. (Image/OnAllCylinders – Patrick Miller)
In addition to the script Charger logo, you’ll see its special Arrow emblem along the car’s flanks. (Image/OnAllCylinders)

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Author: Paul Sakalas

Paul is the editor of OnAllCylinders. When he's not writing, you'll probably find him fixing oil leaks in a Jeep CJ-5 or roof leaks in an old Corvette ragtop. Thanks to a penchant for vintage Honda motorcycles, he spends the rest of his time fiddling with carburetors and cleaning chain lube off his left pant leg.