Beginning with the Charger’s third generation, in 1971, the model became a two-door version of the Dodge Coronet platform. Well, either that or the Charger was a coupe variant of the Coronet sedan. The car had all but lost much of its sinister looks of the fabled ‘68-’70 thundering ‘Mach 2 jet on wheels’ apparel, as it was lauded in the official brochures.
Returning to the unmistakable 1969 and its split grille, the third generation would proudly wear the vertical separator in the middle of its front end. The semi-swept roofline aligned with the coke-bottle profile, and the Charger was a somewhat more civilized relative of the ruffian it was born as.
The air-cleaning resolutions took performance down, and the Society of Automotive Engineering also kicked marketing in the head. Since the power and torque ratings were stated ‘as installed,’ the numbers were disgracefully low compared to the peak of the Golden Era. With the HEMI out of sight, Dodge relied on three V8s and an inline Six to put the charge in the Charger of 1973.
Two engines were standard in the domesticated Charger: a 225-cubic-inch I6 (3.7-liter) and a 318 V8 (the famous Mopar 5.2-liter small-block that served the Chrysler Corporation with loyalty for a good number of years). Optional plants were the 340-CID motor (5.6 liters) – but only for the Rally Package cars – a duo of 400s/ 6.6 liters (evolved from the notorious 383 big-block V8), and the Magnum. The legendary 440 incher (7.2 liters) was still around, albeit only in the toned-down four-Venturi carburetion with 280 hp and 340 lb-ft (284 PS, 461 Nm)..
We clearly see the difference – but the general stream of the period muffled everyone else in Detroit. Speed was the antichrist, and good gas mileage was a high virtue worthy of beatification. And, since there was no real going back to the tire-shrieking days (and nights) of the ‘Stoplight Grand Nationals,’ it made sense for customers to choose comfort.
It makes a lot more sense now when the Dodge Charger from the dawn of the Malaise is a classic collectible. Not held in the high praise of the second-gen demigods (and hemigods), the Chargers of 1971 through 1974 are still getting their fair share of attention. Especially when they’re original survivors, like this particular Dalton, Georgia example we see in the video.
While sitting in a parking lot, another car mauled the Charger on the passenger side. The damage was only skin deep, so the repair was performed locally (dent pulled out and painted). The rebuilt 440-4 is mated to an automatic with a slap-stick shifter and does get regular exercise in a controlled environment.
The car has new tires, belts, and sparkplugs, needs the vinyl top, driver's seat, and the top of the back seat addressed, and was last on the road in the summer of 2021. But the owner does run it every other day to keep it fresh. It’s a pretty well-optioned Charger with air conditioning, power steering and power brakes, AM/FM radio, and buckets upfront. All this for $35,000 – not exactly the bottom of the classic carpool, but pretty good for a Charger.