All-Original and Unrestored 1966 Dodge HEMI Charger Hides Bad News Under the Hood

1966 Dodge HEMI Charger 16 photos
Photo: nickdshark/eBay
1966 Dodge HEMI Charger1966 Dodge HEMI Charger1966 Dodge HEMI Charger1966 Dodge HEMI Charger1966 Dodge HEMI Charger1966 Dodge HEMI Charger1966 Dodge HEMI Charger1966 Dodge HEMI Charger1966 Dodge HEMI Charger1966 Dodge HEMI Charger1966 Dodge HEMI Charger1966 Dodge HEMI Charger1966 Dodge HEMI Charger1966 Dodge HEMI Charger1966 Dodge HEMI Charger
Unleashed for the 1966 model year, the first-generation Charger combined a sleek fastback body with a premium interior, giving it a unique place in the Dodge lineup. In addition, it was also available with Chrysler's most potent engines, including the then-new 426-cubic-inch (7.0-liter) HEMI.
Rated at 425 horsepower, the latter turned the Charger into one of the most potent vehicles in dealerships. But despite its tremendous oomph, the HEMI Charger didn't find too many customers. Of the 37,344 units sold in 1966, only 468 were ordered with the mighty HEMI. That's less than 2% of the total sales and a number that turns the 1966 HEMI Charger into a rare and highly desirable classic.

Naturally, some of these vehicles got lost on the way. Some were raced until their engines gave up, while others were crashed and scrapped or used as parts cars. How many of them are still around? Well, that number remains a mystery, but I can tell you that the all-original and unrestored 1966 HEMI Charger is a very rare breed. If you haven't seen one in a while, this weathered example fits the bill.

Granted, this Charger is not the prettiest sight. While the owner claims it hasn't been messed around with, this Mopar had a rought life. The original gold paint is still visible on some of the sheet metal, but it's so faded you can easily mistake it for cream. Needless to say, this fastback spent a few good years parked outside.

On the flip side, the low amount of rust suggests the Charger did get some maintainance and a roof over its head for the most time it spent off the road. The interior actually looks pretty solid for an unrestored rig, although I should mention that the rear seats have been reupholstered. It's not a fully-fledged survivor, but it comes close.

Unfortunately, the news isn't as good under the hood. That's because the lid hides an empty engine bay. Don't worry; the original 426 HEMI hasn't been lost. However, it's been taken out of the car, and it's pretty much a puzzle with missing pieces right now. The mill was likely removed to be rebuilt, but that never happened.

And putting it back together isn't going to be a walk in the park. The HEMI is missing the crank, exhaust, pistons, camshaft, and alternator. The carburetors, heads, and rods are still with the car, and the seller provides an OEM air cleaner and valve covers. The carburetors need to be rebuilt, while the block has some cracks. It sounds like an expensive restoration, right?

But it might be worth it, given how rare this Mopar is. Speaking of which, the four-speed manual gearbox makes it one of only 250 units built with this drivetrain combo. The seller claims that Dodge may have sold only three HEMI Chargers in gold, but that's nearly impossible to verify.

It's rare enough as it is, though, and fairly complete for a classic that's been off the road for a very long time. If it's something you'd restore, this Charger is for sale in Beverly Hills, Florida. There is no reserve, but bidding starts at $39,900.
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About the author: Ciprian Florea
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Ask Ciprian about cars and he'll reveal an obsession with classics and an annoyance with modern design cues. Read his articles and you'll understand why his ideal SUV is the 1969 Chevrolet K5 Blazer.
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