1966 Dodge Charger

1966 Dodge Charger – David Pearson Tribute

This 1966 Dodge Charger started life early in the production run of the first generation Chargers being manufactured in December of 1965 from the Lynch Road, Detroit plant. It was assembled with the 383ci (6.2L) V8 engine and the 727 Torqueflite automatic transmission. There were 37,344 Chargers produced in 1966 and although there is no detailed break down of production numbers, 9,519 were produced with this engine/transmission combination. It is quite a well optioned car, coming from the factory with air conditioning, power assisted steering and power windows. It retains its current colour scheme to this day with a red interior and white exterior.

Early history is a little vague at the moment and I believe it was a single owner car from first purchase until it was sold to a dealer in Moore, Oklahoma, USA in 2010. It was then purchased by an Australian buyer who shipped the car to Canberra, Australia. The car changed hands again in 2010 when it was bought by a new owner in Melbourne, Australia. The car was put up for sale in 2012 when I purchased it and had it shipped from Melbourne, Australia to the UK.

After some work over the winter of 2012/2013 the car was made road legal in the UK and first registration was early 2013. I regularly drove the car over the 2013 and 2014 car show seasons and it also appeared in a May 2014 article in Classic American magazine.

As it came towards the end of 2014 I decided for a bit of a change of direction with the car. A trip up to Dave Billadeau at Billadeau Speed & Automotive saw major work on the engine and driveline. The old 383ci engine was ripped out and replaced with a newly built 493ci (8.0L) stroker motor. The build also included 440 Source aluminium heads, TTI headers, 3” exhaust, electric cutouts, aluminium radiator, hood scoop, refreshed 727 transmission with reverse manual valve body and 3.91 suregrip. The car first hit the road in 2015 with the new setup but didn’t see much action over 2015 as work continued to get the car to its final state. During 2015 front disc brakes were added and also moved from the old stock 14” wheels to 15” wheels. One more trip to Billadeau Speed & Automotive in late 2015 saw some suspension upgrades with Super Stock springs out back and an updated MSD ignition system.

The aim in 2016 was to get the car entered into at least one round of the UK Nostalgia Super Stock meetings. A busy 2015/2016 winter followed with a 6 point roll cage and 5 point harness added for safety by Andy Robinson Race Cars.

The final piece for the car was the custom decals taken from David Pearson’s 1966 Dodge Charger which won the NASCAR championships in 1966 while he was driving for Cotton Owens. Using period photos (and even a 1:32 slot car model) gave me most of the logos on the car that were then the starting point for the design work. Using these sources Ambient Graphics in Cambridge were then able to produce and fit the decals which you see on the car today.

A few Santa Pod RWYB sessions followed to shake down the car and also see what it was capable of over the 1/4 mile. Finally by mid-2016 the car had made it just in time for the final UK Nostalgia Super Stock class meeting at Dragstalgia at Santa Pod. More shows and trips to the drag strip followed including the Mopar Euro Nats where a PB of 12.74@105.9 was set over the 1/4 mile.