DODGE CHALLENGER History
was the last one to the pony car party, but it spent its time wisely, perfecting
its entry, the Challenger. The Challenger debuted with an engine lineup
that ranged from a docile slant six to the powerful 440 Six Barrel and
the awesome 426 Hemi. Other pony cars could only dream of a line up like
1970 Dodge Challenger
The Dodge Challenger was based on the Plymouth Barracuda platform, but
its wheelbase was stretched by two inches to provide more interior room.
The Challenger was offered in both hardtop and convertible versions. Performance
versions wore the R/T (Road/Track) badge and either the base or R/T model
could be ordered with the SE luxury package. The SE package included leather
seats and a vinyl roof with a smaller "formal" rear window. Challenger
R/T's came standard with the 335 bhp 383 engine. Optional were two 440
engines, the four-barrel Magnum with 375 bhp and the tri-carb Six Pack
with 390 bhp (chosen by 2,035 buyers). Topping the list was the almighty
426 Hemi with 425 bhp (chosen by 356 buyers). The Hemi cost an additional
$1,228 and required heavy-duty equipment. The 440s and the Hemi came standard
with TorqueFlite automatic. Optional was a four speed manual which included
a pistol-grip Hurst shifter and a Dana 60 axle. Gear axles climed from
3.23:1 to 4.10:1, with limited slip as an option. All R/Ts received a heavy
duty suspension and the 440s and Hemi received 15 inch 60 series tires,
although essentials such as power steering and front disc brakes were still
optional. The R/T's standard hood had two hood scoops, but they did not
feed directly into the air cleaner. For just $97, the buyer could specify
the shaker scoop, which mounted to the air cleaner and stuck up through
an opening in the hood. It was known as the "shaker" as it vibrated along
with the engine. Some faults of the Challenger included poor outward visibility
and it feeling too bulky for its size.
Dodge had one more trick up its sleeze. In order to race in the Sports
Car Club of America's Trans American Sedan Championship, it built a street
version of its race car (just like Plymouth with its Plymouth 'Cuda AAR)
which it called the Dodge Challenger T/A (Trans Am). Although the race
cars ran a destroked version of the 340, street versions took the 340 and
added a trio of two-barrel carbs atop an Edelbrock aluminum intake manifold,
creating the 340 Six Pack. Dodge rated at the 340 Six Pack at the same
290 bhp rating as the original 340 engine (and mysteriously the same rating
as the Camaro Z/28 and Ford Boss 302 Mustang), it actually made about 350
bhp. It breathed air through a suitcase sized air scoop molded into the
pinned down, lift off matte-black fiberglass hood. Low-restriction dual
exhausts ran to the stock muffler location under the trunk, then reversed
direction to exit in chrome tipped "megaphone" outlets in front of the
rear wheels. TorqueFlite automatic or Hurst-shifted four-speed transmission,
3.55:1 or 3.90:1 gears, manual or power steering were available. Front
disc brakes were standard. The special Rallye suspension used heavy duty
parts and increased the camber of the rear springs. The T/A was among the
first production vehicles to use different size tires front and rear: E60x15
fronts, and G60x15 in back. The modified camber elevated the tail enough
to clear the rear rubber and its side exhaust outlets, thick side stripes,
bold ID graphics, and a ducktail spoiler added to the street punk image.
The interior was strictly stock Challenger. Unfortunately, the race Challenger
T/A wasn't very competitive and the street version suffered from severe
understeer in fast corners. But it could turn mid 14s in the quarter mile
which would do any small block muscle car proud. The T/A would only be
available for 1970 as Dodge would pull out of Trans Am racing.
Base: 53,337 Challenger T/A: 2,142 Challenger R/T Coupe: 12,747 Challenger
R/T Convertible: 1,070 Challenger RT/SE Coupe: 3,679
Engines: 225 I6 145
bhp. 318 V8 230 bhp. 340 V8 275 bhp. 340-6 (T/A) V8 290 bhp @ 5000 rpm,
345 lb-ft @ 3400 rpm. 383 V8 335 bhp. 440 V8 375 bhp. 440-6 V8 390 bhp
@ 4700 rpm, 480 lb-ft @ 2300 rpm. 426 (Hemi) V8 425 bhp @ 5000 rpm, 490
lb-ft @ 4000 rpm.
0-60 in 5.9 seconds, 1/4 mile in 14.5 seconds @ 99.6 mph. R/T 440-6: 0-60
in 6.2 seconds, 1/4 mile in 13.7 seconds @ 105 mph.
1971 Dodge Challenger
Comments: For 1971,
the Dodge Challenger received a new grille and several other changes from
1970. The Challenger T/A was advertised but never made and was officially
dropped (as Dodge had withdrawn from Trans Am racing). The R/T convertible
was also dropped and the SE package was only available on base model Challengers.
The R/T for 1971 had color-keyed bumpers, dummy brake cooling slots on
its rear flanks, and new tape stripes. The 383 engine was still standard
on R/T models, but it was detuned to 300 bhp due to a lower compression
ratio to meet new government regulations. The base 440 was dropped, but
the 440-6, rated at 385 bhp (down 5 bhp from 1970) and the Hemi, still
rated at 425 bhp were still available. But that didn't stop a severe sales
slide as sales fell 60% in just the Challenger's second year. A small group
of Dodge dealers tried to boost Challenger sales in 1971 by providing 50
specially prepared examples as official and pace cars for the Indianapolis
500 race. All of these cars were Hemi Orange convertibles with white interior,
although just two had high-performance options. One -- the pace car --
skidded and crashed into a press box, injuring a number of reporters. Not
surprisingly, the pace car decal sets available through Dodge dealers did
not sell well.
Base: 23,088 Challenger R/T Coupe: 4,630 Challenger Base Convertible: 2,165
Engines: 225 I6 145
bhp. 318 V8 230 bhp. 340 V8 275 bhp. 383 V8 300 bhp. 440 V8 375 bhp. 440+6
V8 385 bhp @ 4600 rpm, 480 lb-ft @ 2300 rpm. 426 (Hemi) V8 425 bhp @ 5000
rpm, 490 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm.
1972 Dodge Challenger
The 1972 Challenger gained new front end styling which included a new eggcrate
grille which had downturned ends. Critics noted that it was showing a sad
face to its own emasculation. The R/T performance version was dropped and
convertibles were eliminated. The 440 and Hemi were also dropped. A new
Rallye edition replaced the R/T model, but sported only a 318 with just
150 bhp (net). The largest engine available was a 340 with just 240 bhp
(net), a far cry from just the year before.
Base: 18,535 Challenger Rallye Coupe: 8,123
Engines: 225 I6 145
bhp. 318 V8 150 bhp. 340 V8 240 bhp.
1973 Dodge Challenger
The Dodge Challenger continued its downward slide for 1973. The Rallye
edition was dropped, although buyers could still build their own on the
option sheet. Sales were still up for the year, even though most of these
cars had the 318 with 150 bhp, hardly a performance machine. Still available
was the 340 with 240 bhp but it was replaced at mid-season with a new 360
V8 debuted with 245 bhp. The increased capacity was the only way that Dodge
could keep power up in the face of tightening emissions control regulations.
Engines: 318 V8 150
bhp. 340 V8 240 bhp. 360 V8 245 bhp.
1974 Dodge Challenger
1974 would be the last year for the Dodge Challenger, still available with
the 360 for those that wanted any real performance. The Dodge Challenger
lived just five short years, but it made its mark on the muscle car era.
Engines: 318 V8 150
bhp. 360 V8 245 bhp.