MotorCities National Heritage Area
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By Robert Tate, Automotive Historian and Researcher
Images Courtesy of Robert Tate's collection
Published 08.08.2018

1968 Dodge Charger 2 Tate Collection RESIZED1968 Dodge Charger (Robert Tate Collection) 

 

Today, when I look back at Chrysler Corporation's great history, the year 1968 always comes to mind for me as a year that made a significant difference in Chrysler's timeline. At the time, these new products represented a considerable investment in styling, engineering and tooling along with new safety features, emission control equipment and performance options.

Lynn Townsend Chairman and VE Boyd President Chrysler 1968 Annual Report 1 Tate Collection RESIZEDChrysler Chairman Lynn Townsend (left) and President V.E. Boyd pictured in the company's 1968 Annual Report (Robert Tate Collection) 

In 1968, Chrysler was run by Lynn Townsend (pictured above left) as Chairman and V. E Boyd (pictured above right) as President.  The company's new 1968 Plymouth, Dodge, Chrysler and Imperial passenger cars were introduced on September 14, 1967. The 1968 models had fresh new styling and featured many new engineering and safety advances. Two models receiving a great deal of attention that year were the newly designed Dodge Charger, along with the high-performance Plymouth Road Runner.

The all-new 1968 Dodge Charger was an exciting model that experienced skyrocketing sales. The public loved the design, and the car was particularly popular with younger Americans. The 1968 Charger design was riding high at the end of the 1960s, along with the new 1969 Charger it was released. I always thought that the 1968-69 Dodge Charger models were one of the best looking vehicle designs during the 1960s.

 

 

1968 Chrysler Imperial 3 Tate Collection RESIZED1968 Chrysler Imperial (Robert Tate Collection) 

 

Sales of Chryslers throughout the world rose in 1968 for the seventh consecutive year. The Chrysler 300, along with the Imperial Le Baron models, were also great looking designs. These models also helped Chrysler profits for 1968. Many Chrysler departments charged with offering greater service and convenience to customers made substantial progress in 1968.

 

1968 Plymouth Sport Satellite and Plymouth Signet and Plymouth Fury 4 Tate Collection RESIZEDClockwise from top left, the 1968 Plymouth Sport Satellite, Plymouth Signet and Plymouth Fury (Robert Tate Collection)  

The 1968 Plymouth model lineup also featured great looking designs. One of the most popular Plymouth models that year was the popular Plymouth Road Runner hardtop (not pictured). The Road Runner cost $3,034 and was available with either a 383 engine or a 426 Hemi street engine, satisfying the thirst of many young adults when it came time for racing and showing off hot cars at the drive-in. The Road Runner saw a production run of 15,359 units.

Other Chrysler models that were part of the scene in 1968 were the Plymouth Barracuda models. The Barracuda (not shown) was an especially sharp looking vehicle that attracted many young buyers. The Plymouth Sport Fury and Valiant Signet also sold very well for Chrysler. Consumers were impressed with the Fast Top styling on the Fury models, and drivers had a choice of six-cylinder or V-8 engines. The Valiant Signet models were 2 and 4-door sedans with the Signet trim displayed across the rear and the side windows on certain models that many consumers liked and paid the $2,447 price tag. The new Valiant grilles were divided by a color panel that tapered narrower at the bottom.

 

 

1968 Dodge Coronet 500 Dodge Monaco and Dodge Dart GT 5 Tate Collection RESIZEDClockwise from top left, the 1968 Dodge Coronet 500, Dodge Monaco and Dodge Dart GT (Robert Tate Collection)

 

The Dodge division was manufacturing great products in 1968 along with the popular Charger. Drivers had a choice of the beautiful Dodge Coronet 500, the full-size luxury Monaco, or perhaps the sporty Dart GT models. These models contributed significantly to Chrysler’s huge profits. An automotive historian once said that the 1968 Dodge Coronet and Charger models were the best-looking intermediates of the decade. One of the most popular Dodge Coronet models (not shown) was the top performance R/T model, which had many fans in 1968. Even today, the Coronet models have a huge fan base and are very popular among automotive enthusiasts.

1968 Chrysler Assembly 6 Tate Collection RESIZED1968 Chrysler Assembly (Robert Tate Collection)

 

In conclusion, Chrysler Corporation had a very good sales year in 1968. However, you can't forget the men and women who were a part of the assembly line process that helped Chrysler move forward. From all the Michigan plants like Lynch Road Assembly, to the Kokomo, Indiana transmission plant, and Chrysler Canada's Windsor, Ontario Engine plant, Chrysler will always be a part of our great automotive history.  

 

Bibliography

Butler, Don. “The Plymouth and De Soto Story.” Crestline Publishing. 

McPherson, Thomas. “The Dodge Story.” Crestline Publishing, 1975.

Langworth, Richard M. & Norbye, Jan P. “The Complete History of Chrysler Corporation 1924-1985.”