In 1971, the all-new third generation Charger debuted. It was completely restyled with a new “Pontiac” grille and more rounded “fuselage” bodystyle. Many people have compared the look of the 1971-1974 Chargers to the 1968-1970 Pontiac GTOs. The interiors now looked more like those of the E-body and were now shared by the Plymouth B-body.

Dodge Charger RT (1971)
Dodge Charger RT (1971)

A rear spoiler and a “Ramcharger” hood made the option lists for the first time. A special scoop was mounted in the hood, directly above the air cleaner. If the driver wanted to put clean air directly into the carburetor, he pulled a small lever under the dash and the scoop popped up. This gimmicky (but novel) device had been used on the Coronet R/T and Super Bees, but this was the first time it was used on the Charger.

Dodge also merged its Coronet and Charger lines. From 1971, all four-door B-bodies were badged as Coronets and all two-door B-bodies as Chargers. This change would add the one-year-only Charger Super Bee to the Charger stable.

Dodge Charger RT (1971)-rear

The Dodge Super Bee made the move from the Coronet line to the Charger line for 1971 only, then the model was discontinued. Several other models were carried over from 1970, including the 500. However this 500 could be ordered with any engine and was not the high performance model it was in 1969. The R/T and SE versions carried over as well, but the R/T’s popularity was on the downslide thanks to higher insurance costs. Only 63 Hemi versions were built, and 2,659 were built with other engines that year.

Rapidly rising insurance rates, combined with higher gasoline prices, reduced sales of muscle cars and 1971 was the last year of availability for the 426 Hemi “Elephant engine” in any car. 1972 also saw the end of the high-performance 440 Six-Pack engine (although a very small number of 1972 Chargers came with this engine).

Dodge Charger RT (1971)-front2

The 1972 Charger bowed with a new “Rallye” option to replace the former R/T version. The 440 engines were still available, but now had to use the net horsepower rating instead of the gross horsepower rating. This would cause their horsepower ratings to go down substantially, although the net horsepower rating was actually more realistic. Also beginning in 1972 (with the exception of the very few 440 Six-Pack engines installed in Chargers early in the model year), all engines featured lowered compression ratios to permit the use of regular leaded or unleaded gasoline rather than leaded premium fuel as in past years due to increasing tighter emissions regulations.

After the dozen or so 1972 models were built with the 440 Six-Pack engine, a low-compression 440 with a 4 barrel carburetor became the top dog engine, and the use of the pistol-grip 4-speed Hurst shifter was limited to engines of 400 cubic inches. The 1972-1974 Chargers were no longer called performance cars, but were gradually turned into personal luxury cars, because all manufacturers “saw the handwriting on the wall.” The end of the muscle car era came to a close, and the 1975 Dodge Charger would be the final nail in the coffin. By: netcarshow