Torque Thursday: Dodge Charger 440 R/T

Immortalised in Bullitt, the ’68 Charger is inextricably associated with US outlaws. Now this superb example is available in the AutoClassics classifieds

As the ultimate cinematic car chase, Bullitt sent two of the US’s most celebrated muscle cars to the upper crust of American automotive culture. The Ford Mustang Fastback GT 390, the original pony car, and the demonic-looking Dodge Charger 440 R/T starred in what was otherwise a fairly mediocre film.

For just under ten minutes, however, cinemagoers were silenced in sheer awe as these two leviathans battled it out around San Francisco. That was until the Dodge met its demise, having arrived rather too quickly at a petrol station. I know a Charger’s fuel consumption is rather poor, but that kind of enthusiasm to fill up is ridiculous…

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During filming, the Bullitt Mustang allegedly required significant tuning to both its brakes and suspension to make up for the 50bhp deficit against its angrier, evil nemesis. The Charger required zero cosmetic alterations and very little in the way of mechanical tuning. Meanwhile, its glossy black paint and satanic front end made it the perfect villain to complement Bill Hickman (driver) and Paul Genge (shotgun-ready passenger).

The electric atmosphere reached its crescendo with Hickman fastening his seatbelt before opening the taps on his 440 R/T and silencing the original score. Music was far from necessary, with the guttural bellows of the Ford’s 390 and Dodge’s 440 Magnum adding to the atmosphere in a way that dramatic music could never accomplish.

Interestingly, and unusually in notoriously embattled muscle-car circles, the Dodge Charger is loved even by fans of pumped-up rivals. The original version was unveiled in 1966 and featured a ‘coke bottle’ body design. Its front light clusters were hidden from view behind a full-width black grille, which was complemented by equally expansive rear light panel. This was a particularly daring design at the time.

The next-generation 1968 Charger became one of the most sought-after models, with a host of one-off design features that were excluded from every other iteration. Anoraks will tell you that a ’68 model can be denoted by the exclusive circular double rear-light set-up, in addition to a feature presented on all Chrysler products of that year; small, circular marker lights on the front and rear wings. Good to know, eh?

What’s this one like?

This particular example for sale in the AutoClassics classifieds showcases just how damn cool the Charger is. You could imagine Darth Vader driving one as easily as you could a ’60s gangster swanning around the Bronx. With 132 photos in this particular advert, anyone with the requisite cash would be foolish not to ring up the dealer and scream ‘TAKE MY MONEY!’ down the phone. If funds are a tad dry, perhaps a Wonga loan would suffice...

Although not the revered 426ci Hemi, the ’68 440 R/T here is the exact year and model of the example used in Bullitt. The vinyl roof, the atypical black stripe tying the rear together and the devastatingly attractive dark blue metallic paint make this Thursday Thug the proverbial peach nestled in our classifieds.

Sourced from Mexico, this example was the perfect starting point for a robust and sympathetic restoration, including a whole host of upgrades to allow the new owner to enjoy the car without meeting the same demise as Hickman and Genge.

Power-assisted disc brakes all round allow sir or madam to stop before leaving the earth’s atmosphere, and a complete rebuild of the whole suspension set-up undoubtedly provides a fresh drive. Spotless panel gaps and a confirmed 425bhp at the flywheel are the icing on the cake.

You can discover more about this Dodger Charger and get a closer look with the AutoClassics classified advert.

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