Photos & text courtesy of Mecum Auctions
When Chrysler fielded the new Race Hemi engine in 1964, Mopar racers enjoyed instant dominance on the drag strips and NASCAR’s superspeedways, but by the mid-1960s, exotic new engines from Ford and General Motors were beginning to erode the Hemi’s advantage. Seeking to regain some ground in competition and sales, in 1966 Dodge introduced the Charger, offering fans of the new fastback craze, a full-sized but slippery new package with which to wield the Hemi.
The year 1968 brought a comprehensive redesign of the Dodge Charger with Coke-bottle body contours, a new recessed grille retaining the original’s hidden headlights, a “flying buttress” roof with recessed rear window, refined tail, and minimal use of chrome. The result was arguably the best-looking Mopar machine of the decade and an astounding six-fold increase in sales over 1967, but trouble lurked on NASCAR’s banked ovals. The new Charger ran into an aerodynamic brick wall in its 200 MPH pursuit of the competition, even with Hemi power under the hood. The answer lay in finding ways to decrease drag, so for 1969 aerodynamicists went to work, flush-mounting a Coronet front grille to improve its penetration and installing a flush rear window to reduce rear lift.
The result was the Charger 500, so named for the number required by NASCAR to homologate the model for competition (in fact, Dodge would finally produce only 392 Charger 500 coupes). Rotisserie restored over four years and completed in 2013, this 1969 Dodge Charger 500 is the only one known to exist with the 426/425 HP Hemi engine, 4-speed manual transmission and special-order Omaha Orange paint. A no-rust car sold new in California, it retains the original sheet metal and original drivetrain. It is well documented with a Creative Industries master list and fender tags.