• 1968 Dodge Charger III

      During 1968, Dodge generated a new sleek experimental vehicle called the Charger III. The prototype car was displayed throughout many automotive shows across the country. The model was one of the most aerodynamic styling designs that Dodge produced for its division.

      The exterior of the Dodge Charger III offered a low dynamic vehicle that equated to 42 inches high, 184 inches long and 73 inches wide. A thin forward tapering hood and air scoop grille design was also part of the aerodynamic design theme. One of its most unique features of the model was that it excluded any opening doors or windows. In order to enter the car, the driver would have to push a button where a jet aircraft type canopy swung upward for access. Once inside, there was another button on the instrument panel that would have to be pushed in order to close the canopy. The exterior included headlamps that would turn on as the doors open automatically and when they were not in use, they would disappear behind the twin doors.

      The interior of the Dodge Charger III included a space capsule design included only two bucket seats for the driver and passenger. The bucket seats could raise approximately 8 inches high and included head restraints for added comfort as needed. It included a swing away steering wheel with an instrument pod. The model also included a flow through ventilation which allowed air to be taken through the grille and then recirculated throughout the interior of the vehicle.

      The Dodge Charger III model was painted in a “Candy Apple Red” which greatly appealed to many spectators at different automotive shows. Besides touring the country, the model was featured in multiple 1968 Dodge exhibits around the country. The former General Manager of Dodge, Mr. Robert B. McCurry, previously stated, “This experimental vehicle is our way of showing the public some of the design and engineering concepts which we have developed. From the public, we learn what they would like or not like to see in tomorrow's automobile. That is why we conduct special consumer surveys at auto shows". The Charger III styling model was built in the Dodge styling studio under top secrecy in an old brick building in Detroit.

      The man responsible for the creation of the 1968 Dodge Charger III was Mr. Elwood P. Engel. During 1968, I was a student enrolled at MacDowell Elementary school located in Detroit, Michigan. Being beyond impressed with the Dodge Charger III show car, I decided to write a letter to the Public Relations Manager of Dodge, Mr. Frank Wylie, to tell him my thoughts. Shortly thereafter, I received a letter and press kit in the mail included a collectable model of the Charger III. Today, I still have the material as part of my collection in which I used as reference information for this story.

      A special thanks to Robert Tate, Automotive Historian and Researcher, for donating the story to the MotorCities Story of the Week program. Photographs are courtesy of Bob Tate’s personal collection. (Bibliography: Wylie Frank. Charger III A New Idea Car From Dodge. Dodge Public Relations, 1968.)

      Please do not republish the story and/or photographs without permission of MotorCities National Heritage Area. For further information contact Robert Tate at btate@motorcities.org. If you have a story that you would like to donate to be featured as a MotorCities Story of the Week, email Lisa Ambriez at lambriez@motorcities.org.