Saturday 28 February 2015
The Dodge Challenger is the name of three different generations of American automobiles marketed by the Dodge division of Chrysler. The Dodge Silver Challenger was produced from 1958 to 1959. From 1969 to 1974, the first generation Dodge Challenger pony car was built using the Chrysler E platform, sharing major components with the Plymouth Barracuda. The second generation, from 1978 to 1983, was a badge engineered Mitsubishi Galant Lambda. The third, and current generation, was introduced in early 2008 as a rival to the evolved fifth generation Ford Mustang and the fifth generation Chevrolet Camaro.
The Challenger was described in a book about 1960s American cars as Dodge's "answer to the Mustang and Camaro." Introduced in fall 1969 for the 1970 model year, it was one of two Chrysler E-body cars, the other being the slightly smaller Plymouth Barracuda. "Both the Challenger and Barracuda were available in a staggering number of trim and option levels" and were intended "to compete against cars like the Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Mustang, and to do it while offering virtually every engine in Chrysler's inventory." However, the 1970 Challenger was "a rather late response to the ponycar wave the Ford Mustang had started" with its introduction in April 1964. In his book Hemi Muscle Cars, Robert Genat wrote that the Challenger was conceived in the late 1960s as Dodge's equivalent of the Plymouth Barracuda, and that the Barracuda was designed to compete against the Mustang. The 1964 Barracuda was actually the first car in this sporty car segment by a few weeks, but was quickly overshadowed by the release of the segment defining Mustang (the segment being referred to as "Pony Car"). He added that Chrysler intended the new 1970 Dodge as "the most potent ponycar ever," and positioned it "to compete against the Mercury Cougar and Pontiac Firebird." Genat also noted that the "Barracuda was intended to compete in the marketplace with the Mustang and Camaro/Firebird, while the Dodge was to be positioned against the Cougar" and other more luxury-type musclecars.
The Challenger's longer wheelbase, larger dimensions and more luxurious interior were prompted by the launch of the 1967 Mercury Cougar, likewise a bigger, more luxurious and more expensive pony car aimed at affluent young American buyers. The wheelbase, at 110 inches (2,794 mm), was two inches longer than the Barracuda, and the Dodge differed substantially from the Plymouth in its outer sheetmetal, much as the Cougar differed from the shorter-wheelbase Ford Mustang. Air conditioning and a rear window defogger were optional.
Exterior design was done by Carl Cameron, who also did the exterior for the 1966 Dodge Charger. Cameron based the 1970 Challenger grille off an older sketch of his 1966 Charger prototype that was to have a turbine engine. The Charger never got the turbine, but the Challenger featured that car's grille. Although the Challenger was well received by the public (with 76,935 produced for the 1970 model year), it was criticized by the press, and the pony car segment was already declining by the time the Challenger arrived. Sales fell dramatically after 1970, and though sales rose for the 1973 model year with over 27,800 cars being sold, Challenger production ceased midway through the 1974 model year. A total of 165,437 Challengers were sold over this generation's lifespan.
A 1970 Challenger R/T 440 Magnum was featured in the existentialist 1971 film Vanishing Point.
- engine: V8
- capacity: 5600 cc
- horsepower: 290 HP
- gearbox: 4+1
- top speed: 200 km/h