Like its stablemate the Dodge Charger, the Dodge Challenger was a very successful model that has seen the name continue through various generations of the model. The real cache for the name rests with the first generation Dodge Challenger, the 1970 - 1974 muscle car.
In another similarity with the Charger, the Dodge Challenger was a late response to a very successful car from another make, this time it was the Ford Mustang, though with its increased size, and degree of styling, it could perhaps have been more a competitor for the Mercury Cougar. Again mirroring the approach of Dodge with the Charger, the Challenger was also a redesign atop an existing platform, in this case it was the Plymouth Barracuda.
The first change employed by the design team was to extend the wheelbase two inches, to provide additional interior room. The exterior of the first Challenger was by the same designer responsible for the 1966 Dodge Charger, Carl Cameron. Effectively, he ‘borrowed’ some of his unused ideas from that earlier car. It was available initially as a two-door hardtop, with a 2-door convertible added for the 1970 and 1971 models only.
An Alpine White 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T 440 was featured in the 1971 film “Vanishing Point”, being raced and chased from Colorado to California. The production team was given five of the cars to use, and, remarkably, they were all returned to Chrysler relatively intact considering the film's many car stunts.
Body type options might have been limited, but there was no shortage of engine configurations:
- 225-cubic-inch I-6; 145 horsepower
- 318-cubic-inch V-8; 230 horsepower
- 340-cubic-inch V-8; 275 horsepower (290 horsepower in the T/A)
- 383-cubic-inch V-8; 290 horsepower
- 383-cubic-inch V-8; 330 horsepower
- 383-cubic-inch V-8; 335 horsepower
- 426-cubic-inch Hemi V-8; 425 horsepower
- 440-cubic-inch V-8; 375 horsepower
- 440-cubic-inch V-8; 390 horsepower
In addition to the attention-grabbing body shape and engine noise, the Challenger was also available in colors to make you stop and look. Over the years were such colors as Plum Crazy (purple), Sublime (green), Hemi Orange, Top Banana, Citron Yella and Green Go.
The 1970 Dodge Challenger was a popular car with the public, with 76,935 produced, but in the motoring press the car had its critics, with many feeling that with this car Dodge was simply too late to the Pony Car party.
For the 1971 model, there were slight style changes, options were reduced to the Challenger Base, Challenger Base Convertible, and the Challenger R/T Coupe. As the choices dropped, so too did sales, down to just under 30,000.
1972 saw the Charger made more meek, due to insurance cost and tighter emissions controls. Only the Challenger Base and Challenger Rallye Coupe were offered, with sales of 18,535 and 8,123 respectively. The Challenger Ralleye ran the 318 engine at 150 bhp, or there was the 225 cu in slant-6, while the largest engine on offer this year was the 340, at just 240 bhp. Engine choice in 1973 was limited to the two -8 options. Sales for 1973 were 32,596, while in its last hurrah in 1974 the sales figure was 16,437.
Times has been kind to the reputation of the Dodge Challenger, and car collectors rightly prize the best of the breed, the 1970 and 1971 Dodge Challenger, while models from 1972 are worth progressively less. That said, the later models are moving slightly up in price, as the more desirable models become ever more rare and valuable, or simply hard to find.
DODGE CHALLENGER 2ND GENERATION
The name Challenger re-appeared in 1978 - 1983, but it was a far different proposition to the 1970s muscle car. Instead this time around it was a re-badged Mitsubishi two-door coupe, with a 1.6-liter, 77-horsepower I-4 engine, with a 2.6-liter, 105-horsepower four-cylinder as an option. Like the car itself, sales were modest, around 13,000 cars per year.
DODGE CHALLENGER 2006 AND ON
With a concept Dodge Challenger prepared for the 2006 North American International Auto Show, the designers returned the name to its muscle car roots. It was a 2-door coupe, based on the rear-wheel-drive LX platform, and with the 6.1 liter Hemi V8 under the hood.
Tom Tremont, the Vice President – Advanced Vehicle Design, had this to say about the design of the Challenger concept car: “Challenger draws upon the initial 1970 model as the icon of the series. The 1970 model is the most sought after by collectors. But instead of merely recreating that car, the designers endeavored to build a Challenger most people see in their mind’s eye - a vehicle without the imperfections like the old car’s tucked-under wheels, long front overhang and imperfect fits. As with all pleasurable memories, you remember the good and screen out the bad."
The public and press loved the car, and pressed Dodge to turn it from concept to showroom car.
DODGE CHALLENGER 3RD GENERATION
In line with public enthusiasm, in Dodge did indeed re-introduce a muscle-car-like Challenger back into its range. Built in Canada, the new Challengers are based on the LC platform, with the following engine options:
- 3.5 L (214 cu in) SOHC V6 (2009 -2010)
- 3.6 L (220 cu in) Pentastar V6 (2011 - present)
- 5.7 L (345 cu in) HEMI V8 (2009 - present)
- 6.1 L (370 cu in) HEMI V8 (2008 - 2010)
- 6.4 L (392 cu in) HEMI V8 (2011–)
The ClassicCar Forum - Free to use & 14258 members strong!Visit The Forum
|Popular Discussions||Latest Discussions|
Bill Albright , May he rest in peace
57 Comments Started by VicTor Z
repro twin H power insignea
2 Comments Started by duncan
184 Comments Started by super651
2 Comments Started by tigermoth
Ugliest Car Ever Made in USA
71 Comments Started by Lancer770
Shrinking Hammer question
13 Comments Started by commodorecollector
Welcome to our latest Classic Car forum member: agentelryandexcom
Become a member: Join Now