By 1972, the handwriting was on the wall.
Bill Brownlie, who oversaw the design and execution of the ever-famous second-generation Charger (from 1968 to 1970), handed over the reigns to Diran Yajezian, who saw the future of the midsize musclecar in a different light. Diran would depart from Bill's vision of the Charger as a road-worthy stock car to more of a practical family hardtop coupe. Diran had the third-generation Charger totally redesigned from the ground up. The '71 Charger would retain slight design cues from its predecessor, such as the loop front bumper, rakish C-Pillar, and Coke-bottle tapered lines. In addition, the new Charger would come in smaller than its previous model, 3 inches shorter in overall length thanks to a 115-inch wheelbase. These dimensions, in addition to advancements in handling geometry and materials, would provide the third-generation Charger with more superior handling and cornering capabilities than previous models.
To better utilize the modified B-Body platform, Dodge decided to combine the Coronet and Charger brands together, saving the Coronet label for the four-door sedans. the merger entailed the carryover of the Super Bee option to the Charger. But with insurance companies hiking rates as a reaction to cries from activists and lobbyists demanding lower speed limits, government controlled safety equipment, and greater restrictions on performance vehicles, Chrysler, as well as Ford and GM, began to slowly drain the life's blood from their performance-bred musclecars. The Super Bee and R/T marques would be outsold by more cosmetic packages such as the SE (Special Edition) and 500. The Charger's lineup would also get a new option: the Charger Topper, a base-model hardtop with a landau vinyl top and additional cosmetic dressings.
By 1972, the tides of change had done their damage to the Mopar camp. The Plymouth GTX became the sole "pure" musclecar left in the lineup; both the R/T and Super Bee were dropped due to dismal sales in lieu of more aesthetic packages that merely gave the appearance of performance rather than actually performing. The 426 Hemi was laid to rest, while the 440 Six-Pack would remain as an option for the Charger and Road Runner. it is estimated that only two Chargers and one Road Runner would leave the factory with these engines. Together, the Super Bee and R/T sold a total of 7,000 vehicles in 1971, whereas the Charger 500 with its more luxurious accruements would sell over 10,000 units. Synonymous with high performance, the two marques were red flags for insurance agencies, which automatically attached higher premiums to the Super Bee and R/T labels, even though both featured lower overall power output numbers thanks to more restrictive intakes and lower compression on the 383 and 440 engines. Chrysler attributed these poor sales to the names and the connotations they carried, so in an effort to reinvent the performance midsize coupe, Dodge introduced a new brand to take the place of the R/T and Super Bee options-the Rallye.
The Rallye Charger would be available in either a coupe or a hardtop model, and incorporated all the trim and flair necessary to verify the Rallye as a performance vehicle. Available with a domed hood, blackout stripes and hood treatment, unique grille, and Rallye-specific doors with scallops and taillamps, the Rallye would also feature a wide array of powerplants. At the top of the '72 lineup was the four-barrel 440 (watered down to a measly 280 hp), available only in the Rallye and SE packages. The 383 was opened up to 400ci inches and served as the biggest plant for the base trim Charger. Besides those two big-blocks, the usual engine lineup was available: the 340, the 318, and the 225 slant six. Though weak in the power department, the Rallye did offer superior handling prowess over its elder siblings.
In 1972, the 440 big-block...
In 1972, the 440 big-block was detuned down to a weak 280 hp, but was still considered too powerful for most insurance companies.
Purchased new on December 30, 1971, this particular '72 Hemi Orange Rallye stayed most of its life in Southern California between San Bernardino and Alhambra. Ken Lipka specially ordered the B-Body with the largest engine available at the time for $5,500. Besides swapping the original manifolds for headers and performance exhaust, Ken left his original '72 Charger near perfect for twenty years before selling it in March 1990. When the second owner came to collect the Rallye, he found the only thing needed was a recharging of the A/C system and a new floor mat. The Rallye was prepped and exported to Wales by John Rowland in 1995. Needless to say, an early '70s big-block Charger in the British Isles is a rarity. The Charger was left alone during the next few years before Gary and Heather Bradshaw of New Costessey, Norwich, England, took possession of the Rallye. Since then, the Bradshaws have enjoyed taking their beautiful example of America's last performance Charger around their neighborhood and to events with their auto collector's club. Priding themselves on preserving the originality of the Charger Rallye, the Bradshaws have returned the factory exhaust back into place.
Amazingly, the 35-year-old Charger has kept every scrap of documentation: service history, garage paperwork, and dealership records. With only 115,000 miles on the odometer, this car is in a pristine state of preservation.
'72 Dodge Charger RallyeGary & Heather Bradshaw
New Costessey, Norwich, England
Engine: It was the last hurrah for Chrysler's big-block-powered B-Bodies. The stout 440ci, 280-horse big-block was externally no different from the RBs of the previous year, but the internal components tell a different story. Rebuilt to stock factory specs, the 440 offered less compression than before and a significantly tamer camshaft. (It's sad to think that today's foreign V-6s yield more ponies than the last year of the RB 440.)
Transmission: Like the 440, the transmission was pretty much unchanged from the factory. The 727 TorqueFlite automatic with its T-handle shifter is all but stock, and during the resto, was returned to factory specs.
Rearend: Chrysler 8-3/4 filled with a Sure Grip and 3.55 gears.
Horsepower & Performance: Gary and Heather don't race their Charger, but they do cruise it around. The 280 horses under the hood still outpower the fair majority of British and other European cars on the road.
Sure GripSuspension: Nothing has been molested since it rolled off the assembly line in 1972. The Rallye did offer some pretty impressive equipment though. Incumbent with the factory Rallye-option suspension package were heavy-duty brakes, springs, and shocks-all meticulously restored.
Brakes: Standard Chrysler power disc brakes up front, with 10-inch drum brakes on the back.
Wheels: Factory 15-inch Rallye rims at all four corners.
Rubber: BFGoodrich is the weapon of choice here, with 235x15 in front and 275x15 out back.
Body: Never hit, never damaged, not even a speck of rust anywhere, original owner Ken Lipka kept this Rallye Charger preserved nicely. By the time Gary and Heather took possession, all that was needed was a fresh coat of wax and a driver-side floor mat-pretty amazing.
Paint: Factory Hemi orange. Even underpowered, the color still packs a punch.
Interior: the driver-side floor mat was pretty worn and the A/C needed a recharge. Once that was taken care of, the Charger was as good as the day it came off the car carrier at the dealer's lot in 1972. All the paperwork was included in the sale, and the odometer read a meager 115,000 miles-not bad for a 34-year-old car.