One look was all it took describes how Robin Cook fell in love with this Charger. She first spotted it at a cruise-in in Golden, Colorado, about three years ago, when its then-owner, Jay Stevens, parked next to Robin and her husband Steve--and their '73 Challenger--amid a sea of Bowties. "He parked it next to Steve and said, ‘We've got to park the Dodges together.'" They started talking, and while Robin admired it, Jay told Steve that it was for sale. Before too long, it was in the Cook's family Mopar fleet.
Well-equipped with the optional four-barrel 383, 727 Torqueflite, Airtemp factory A/C, power steering and brakes, the Charger was sold new in New Mexico, and made its way to Northern California, where Jay Stevens found it in pieces. He bought it and did the major restoration work on it. The powertrain needed a rebuild, the front seats and floors needed recovering, the chassis needed a good mechanical makeover, and the body needed to have a coat of yellow paint removed and a coat of original-style PPG Black acrylic enamel sprayed on.
Once in the Cooks' hands, the updating and refurbishing continued. "There was a dent in the trunk, and the paint needed a little help, so we had it color-sanded," says Robin, who adds, "I did refurbish the rear carpets, and we had the bumpers rechromed."
When asked if it's finished yet: "It's still a work in progress," says Robin. "It's not done, by any means." Done or not, Robin says it's an awesome cruiser.
The Cooks' Charger is now as sweet a runner as it is a looker--but a rare one. Just over 53,000 wedge-back Chargers were made in the year and a half it was in production, most of them in the 1966 half-year production run. That means that those early-Charger-specific parts which have yet to be reproduced are hard to find. "I do recommend the '66-'67 Charger website (www.66-67charger.com), and there's also an early Charger group on Facebook," says Robin. "They've all been through the problems, and they know where some of the source stuff is."
Can you believe that Robin...
Can you believe that Robin and Steve Cook's '66 Dodge Charger is still a work in progress? It looks great to us!
Interior: Custom interiors...
Interior: Custom interiors didn't even look this good back then. The '66's previous owner did much of the resto work, with the Cooks bringing it into the shape seen here.
Gauges: Complete gauge set...
Gauges: Complete gauge set (including tachometer, oil pressure gauge, and 150-mph speedometer) was standard on every '66 Charger. Woodgrain steering wheel and Music Master AM radio are both original.
'66 Dodge Charger
Owned by: Steve and Robin Cook, Loveland, Colorado
- Engine: Aaron's Machine in Fair Oaks, California, bored the original 383 block .030-inch over, and then added TRW 10.0:1 pistons and a fresh set of bearings. The 383's iron heads, forged-steel crankshaft and connecting rods, camshaft, and other moving parts are all original.
- Transmission: Other than a rebuild, the 727 and factory console-mounted shifter are original.
- Rearend: The 2.94-geared, Sure Grip–equipped 83?4 that it was built with was rebuilt.
- Suspension: Restored original '66 Charger: longitudinal torsion bars, anti-sway bar, and tubular shocks up front, and leaf springs and tubular shocks in back.
- Brakes: Restored OEM power-assisted drum-and-shoe brakes, with the original 11-inch drums.
- Wheels and Tires: OEM 14x51?2-inch wheels wear the '66's original (and standard) spinner full wheel covers and a set of whitewall P195/75R14 Mohave RS steel-belted radials.
- Body: Original '66 Dodge Charger unibody, after some TLC, wears its original trim. Bumpers were replated by Denver Bumper.
- Paint: PPG's DBU 9700 Black replaced a coat of yellow, which was painted over the OEM Black acrylic enamel.
- Interior: The best of both worlds: Resto items (like new front seat covers and YearOne right front floor carpets) and well-preserved OEM rear seats, rear carpets, steering wheel, console, and trim give a spring-of-'66 look to the Charger's cabin. The Cooks and a previous owner did the needed restoration work.
Engine: Four-barrel–equipped 383 was the next-highest '66 Charger engine option, below only the 426 Hemi. Other than a new set of TRW pistons and reproduction wiring, belts, and hoses, it's all original under the hood. Taillight: Six-bulb, wall-to-wall taillight (refurbished with a coat of translucent red paint) is as much a classic early Charger styling cue as the fastback roof is.