When it first came out, the Dodge Charger III concept car drew a lot of comparisons to the Chevrolet Corvette, which was only natural, given the fact that it was a two-seater with a good amount of tech infused into it and those curvy front fenders that did look very much like the then-new Stingray.
But the comparison was really a loose one. The Corvette didn’t have nearly as much rearward bias to the cockpit as the Charger III, and it wasn’t nearly as hunkered down and futur-y wedge-y sharp-edged as the Charger III. The Cheetah might have made just as apt a comparison, or maybe any of those wedge-shaped supercars just then starting to come out of the Italian design houses.
And if we’re just looking at the funky doorless cockpit operation, again we might turn to what was coming out of Europe, or even to the Astro I of the year before or to Chevrolet’s Corvair Monza GT of 1962.
We might compare the Charger III to another 1968 two-seater concept car, the Pontiac Banshee II, which Pontiac renamed the Fiero in 1969. It has that long nose coming to a slight beak with the hidden headlamps and crowned fenders, yes, but it’s neither a coupe nor does it have the extreme cockpit setback. But we’re getting close.
I’d argue instead that there’s a lot of the Charger III in the 1969 Pontiac Cirrus and vice versa. The proportions are strikingly similar, both feature atypical entry methods (the Cirrus requires the driver and passenger to enter from the rear, much like an airliner cockpit), and both take a lot of design cues from fighter jets, including giant air brake flaps that emerge from the rear body panels.
But wait, the Cirrus debuted at the Texas State Fair in October 1969, long after the Charger III made its public debut, so how could it have possibly influenced the Charger III? Perhaps because the Cirrus was based on the GM-X Stiletto, one of multiple concept vehicles that GM introduced at the 1964 World’s Fair. GM merely updated and renamed it for the 1968 show season, keeping all the Stiletto’s gadgets, but still not bothering to install a drivetrain and upgrade it from pushmobile status.
Like our previous separated at birth comparison, we may never know if one directly influenced the other, nor are we accusing one or the other of stealing the design. After all, many of these elements were simply part of the automotive zeitgeist of the mid- to late 1960s (and beyond), so the designers behind the Stiletto/Cirrus and the Charger III may have simply come to similar ends via different means. In either case, it’s a shame we never saw such futuristic vehicles make their way to production.
Article courtesy of Hemmings Daily, written by Daniel Strohl.