Buddy Dickerson and his family love their first-generation Dodge Chargers. This is the first of two Chargers he currently owns, and this particular 1966 specimen has quite a pedigree. The very first of his Dodge Chargers rolled off of the assembly line in mid-year 1966 when comparatively few were produced. This specific Charger was the 7th that rolled off that assembly line with the vehicle identification tag (VIN) ending in the number seven.
Dickerson now races this notable Charger at Nostalgia Drag Racing League events and at tracks around the greater St. Louis region. His first Charger, which he once raced for many years at the old St. Louis/Gateway dragstrip, is now his street machine. This Charger, though he has built it into various versions over the years, has always been strictly for the dragstrip.
The Charger steel roof and quarters are matched with varied VFN fiberglass components and Lexan windows. Dickerson worked for a period at Jerry Bickel’s chassis shop, where he and a friend, John Dunn, fabricated and welded up the 8.50-certified mild steel chassis stretching out to a 117-inch wheelbase.
The entire car weighs in at a svelte 3,250 pounds with the driver — that’s compared to his similar street Charger, which tips the scales at over 4,200 pounds.
The Charger competes with a 493 cubic-inch Mopar engine that uses a World Products block, Indy Cylinder Head wedge heads, and an Eagle rotating assembly. Finer details include a COMP Cams solid lifter cam and a Ken Jones-reworked Holley Performance Dominator carburetor with the combination assembled by Mike and Todd at Phase 2 Machine.
The drivetrain moves the big-block power through a 727 Torqueflite, flexplate, and 8-inch torque converter, all from Rick Allison at A&A Racing Transmission. A Jerry Bickel Race Cars driveshaft is connected to a braced 9-inch Ford rearend with ladder bar suspension.
As a proud American, Buddy’s attention-grabbing paint scheme came to him while he was enjoying a trip to Hawaii that he won on a radio station. His number one agenda there was to visit Pearl Harbor.
“The sights and impact of touring Pearl Harbor, specifically the USS Arizona, immediately inspired a vision for this paintwork,” said Dickerson. “Danny Patterson, who is noted for painting the Bigfoot monster trucks over the years, took my vision to reality. I wanted the flag waving and tattered but not torn. Something Pearl Harbor impressed on me,”
The Charger’s rolling stock is set up with Weld Racing Drag Lites, Hoosier Racing Tire slicks, and frontrunners. Dickerson’s best elapsed time has been a 9.41 at 142 mph in the 1/4-mile, and a 5.91 in the 1/8-mile…healthy time slips for the plus-sized muscle car.
Wilwood Engineering brakes are all around the Charger and are controlled with a Mopar master cylinder. A Magnum Force Race Cars rack-and-pinion steering was developed in conjunction with a custom-constructed tubular A-arm suspension.
Dickerson thanks his late father, Buddy Dickerson Sr, and his father-in-law, Bob McEwen, for their help in getting this Charger project off the ground. He also credits Bob Mccune, Greg Davis, and Derone Cushman for lending their hours of help over the years.
“Everybody knows the car,” Dickerson says with a smile about his rare Dodge rebuilt to racing form. “You can’t help but look at the paint scheme when the car is at speed. With the power I have in this engine, I would like to rework the chassis and ultimately shave some e.t. from the timeslips, but it’s running good, repeatable numbers right now, so we’re having fun with that.”