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Dodge Challenger History

The following historical data of the Dodge Challenger, manufactured by Dodge, were retrieved from many sources.

The Dodge Challenger was a pony car built from 1970 to 1974, using the Chrysler E platform and sharing major components with the Plymouth Barracuda. The second generation, from 1978 to 1983, was badge engineered Mitsubishi Galant Lambda. The third, and current generation, was introduced in 2008 as a rival to the evolved fifth generation Ford Mustang and the revived fifth generation Chevrolet Camaro.

First Generation

The Dodge Challenger was on of two Chrysler E-body cars, the other being the slightly smaller Plymouth Barracuda. The Dodge Challenger was the answer to the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro of that era.

Four hardtop models were offered: Challenger Six, Challenger V8, T/A Challenger (1970 only), and Challenger R/T with a convertible version available only in 1970 and 1971, although there were no factory-built R/T Challenger convertibles for 1971. The standard engine on the base model was the 3.7L V6. Standard engine on the V8 was the 5.2L V8 with a 2-barrel carburetor. Optional engines were the 5.6L and 6.3L V8x, all with a standard 3-speed manual transmission.

The performance model was the R/T, with a 383 CID Magnum V8 engine. Standard transmission was a 3-speed manual. Optional engines were the 7.2L Magnum, 440 CID Six-Pack and the 7.0L Hemi. The R/T was available in either the hardtop or convertible. Base hardtop models and R/T hardtops could be ordered with the more luxurious SE specification, which included leather seats, a vinyl roof, a smaller formal rear window, and an overhead interior console that contained three warning lights. The Challenger R/T came with a Rallye instrument cluster that included 150 mph speedometer, and 8,000 rpm tachometer. In 1973, the R/T badging was dropped and these models were called Rallye, although they were never badged as such. The shaker hood scoop was not available after 1971.

A 1970-only model was the Dodge Challenger T/A racing homologation car. 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 which it called the Dodge Challenger T/A.

Second Generation

The Challenger name was revived in 1978 for a version of the early Mitsubishi Galant Lambda coupe, known overseas as the Mitsubishi Sapporo/Scorpion and sold through Dodge dealers as a captive import, identical except in color and minor trim to the Plymouth Sapporo. Although mechanically identical, the Dodge version emphasized sportiness, with bright colors and tape stripes, while the Plymouth emphasized luxury, with more subdued trim. Both cars were sold until 1983, until being replaced by the Conquest and Daytona.

The car retained the frameless hardtop styling of the old Challenger, but had only smaller engines and was a long way in performance from its namesake. Nevertheless, it acquired a reputation as a reasonably brisk performer of its type, not least because of its available 2.6L engine, exceptionally large for a four-cylinder. Four-cylinder engines of this size had not usually been built due to inherent vibration, but Mitsubishi pioneered the use of balance shafts to help dampen this effect, and the Challenger was one of the first vehicles to bring this technology to the American market; it has since been licensed to many other manufacturers.

Third Generation

On December 3, 2007, Chrysler started taking deposits for the third generation Dodge Challenger which debuted on February 6, 2008 simultaneously at the Chicago Auto Show and Philadelphia International Auto Show. The new version is a 2-door coupe which shares common design elements with the first generation Challenger, despite being significantly longer and taller. The chassis is a modified version of the LX platform that underpins the 2006-Current Dodge Charger, 2005-2008 Dodge Magnum, and the 2005-Current Chrysler 300.

The LX platform was adapted from the Mercedes E Class, reflecting the German company’s ownership of Chrysler at the time and quest for economies of scale. All 2008 models were SRT8s and equipped with the 6.1L Hemi and a 5-speed AutoStick automatic transmission. The entire 2008 US run of 6,400 cars were pre-sold, and production commenced on May 8, 2008; Chrysler Canada offered a further 670+ SRT8s uniquely badged as the Challenger 500.

Production of the limited edition 2008 SRT8s ended in July 2008, and production of the expanded 2009 line-up started in early August of the same year. The expanded offering was the same as had been unveiled earlier that spring. Chrysler debuted the full Dodge Challenger line for 2009, with four different trims – SE, R/T, SRT8, and the SXT in Canada only. In addition to the SRT8, which remained unchanged except for the optional 6-speed manual, the line-up included the previously mentioned SE and SXT which offered the 3.5L V6, and the R/T which hosted a 5.7L Hemi.

The color, Hemi Orange, was initially dropped for the 2010 model year, the re-released later. Two new color schemes, Plum Crazy and Detonator Yellow, were introduced, and a Furious Fuchsia was announced in February 2010. But unlike previous special editions, the Furious Fuchsia version has significant changes to the interior with white leather instead of the usual black seats.

Chrysler also made a late-year addition to the 2010 model year with the limited edition Mopar ’10 Challenger R/T. These cars, limited to only 500 examples, were metallic gray in color with three accent colors of stripes to choose from. In addition, these cars were available with black R/T Classic-style rims along with a Hurst aftermarket pistol grip shifter, custom badging, Mopar cold air intake for a 10 horsepower increase, and Katzkin-sourced aftermarket interior.

Learn More: Dodge Challenger Facts

Dodge Challenger Info

1970 - 1974
Challenger R/T
7.0L Hemi
2007 Third Generation