The Classic Dodge Challenger – Five Legendary Years

Muscle Car Spotlight

Jon Skinner

Written by Jon Skinner

18th March 2019

The Classic Dodge Challenger – Five Legendary Years
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The Classic Dodge Challenger – Five Legendary Years

The Dodge Challenger is the legendary automobiles whose life span is stretched over three generations. The first generation spanned from 1970 to 1974. The second generation stretched from 1978 to 1983. The latest third generation is spanned from 2008 to the present day.   

Today, we will discuss in detail about the first generation of legendary Dodge Challenger (1970 to 1974). It is classified as a muscle car as well as a pony car in three generations.

Muscle cars were the cars that have a light body and a powerful engine. These muscle cars were popular in the 1950s due to their speed, performance and roaring capacity. However, in 1957, the Automobile Industry Association (AIF) put in place a ban on the muscle cars craze. There were two reasons behind this ban. First was the accident that happened during a car race in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. In this accident one car crashed into stands and exploded into flames. 84 people perished and it caused a self-imposed ban by the automotive industry. The second reason was the fear of strict government regulations.

Finally, the ban was lifted in 1963 and the Ford Mustang was released in 1964. It had all the glamour of muscle cars but it lacked power. This car opened a new market for pony cars. Pony Cars were affordable, compact and highly styled cars coupled with a performance-oriented image. This newly created market craze for pony cars paved the way for the release of Dodge Challenger in the fall of 1969 for the model year of 1970. It remained in production for five model years from 1970 to 1974.

1970 Dodge Challenger

Dodge Challenger 1970 was introduced as the first model year. It was the new two-door sensation in the craze of pony cars. It was released in two body styles; coupe and convertible.

Its engine choices were the 340 Six-Pack, 383 Magnum, 440 Magnum, 440 Six-Pack and 426 Hemi. The exterior was designed by Carl Cameron who also designed the 1966 Dodge Charger.

It outshined competitors with wild colours like bright green, bright yellow and plum crazy purple.

It had hood scoops and pistol grip shifters. It had a Charger’s inspired grill. The tail lamps were stretched across the back of the car coupled with one backup light in the centre. It was offered in SE (Special Edition) T/A (Trans-Am) trim and R/T (Road/Track).

The Dodge Challenger went into racing in its first year and a T/A model was released for streets as well. In conclusion, the 1970 Challenger outshined its competitors and won the hearts of the American market.

The original MRSP base price for 1970 Dodge Challenger Hardtop was $3,023.

Here’s a list of the model types.

1970 Dodge Challenger – I6

  • Hardtop
  • Sports Hardtop
  • Convertible

1970 Dodge Challenger – V8

  • Hardtop
  • Sports Hardtop
  • Convertible
  • Hardtop T/A
  • Hardtop R/T
  • Specia Addition Hardtop R/T
  • Convertible R/T

The Dodge Challenger 1970 shined in various films and TV Shows. A Challenger R/T was filmed in a movie named Vanishing Point. The story of Vanishing Point revolved around a high-speed pursuit and was a cult favourite film among the muscle-cars fanbase. This movie was remade in 1997 for Television as well, shining a spotlight on its use in the original film. 1970 Dodge Challenger was also used in movies like Natural Born Killers, Phantasm I, Phantasm II and Used Cars. It was also notably seen in a popular TV show called Mod Squad.     

1971 Dodge Challenger

The model year of 1971 witnessed a restyle in the Dodge Challenger. It got new split grille and restyled back-up lamps. The grille was painted in silver for standard models and in black for R/Ts. The tail lamp design was changed into two remarkable lights. Above all, an additional coupe model was introduced that had fixed quarter windows and leather seats.

The original MRSP base price for 1971 Dodge Challenger Convertible was $3,278.

It only has a backdrop of lowered engine outputs that happened due to industry-wide emissions regulations. However, eight engines options were offered in 1971. In conclusion, it managed to outshine despite new emission regulations and was still competitive at a quarter mile drag race.

1972 Dodge Challenger

The 1972 Dodge Challenger came into the market in tough times. The insurance premiums were rising for the customers. It directly hit the affordability and maintenance of targeted customers. Another factor which hampered the target market was emission regulations. These regulations limited those capabilities of Challenger which were cherished by their owners.

The original MRSP base price for 1972 Dodge Challenger Hardtop was $3,082.  

In spite of all these challenges, the 1972 model Challenger remained in the market. The convertible option was discontinued but the Challenger and Challenger Rallye hardtop were still being produced.

The grill and tail were redesigned again in this model year. The grill was now stretched below front bumper like a horse collar and it was painted argent for Standard and black for Challenger Rallye. Only three engine choices were available in this model year which diminished the interest for customers.

1973 Dodge Challenger

The 1973 Dodge Challenger managed to show a little comeback in terms of business performance if compared to the 1972 Dodge Challenger despite increased regulations and fuel crises. The original MRSP base price for 1973 Dodge Challenger Hardtop was $3,011.

There were minor changes in the design of the model year 1973 from the model year 1972. New bumpers equipped with large rubber guards were introduced to meet the new bumper impact standards. Another noticeable change was the new electronic ignition. In this model year, the six-cylinder engine was discontinued, a 150 horsepower V8 engine was set as standard and a 240 horsepower V8 engine was set as option two. The Rallye was also discontinued as a separate model.

1974 Dodge Challenger

The year 1974 was sadly the last model year for the beloved Challenger. The market conditions were becoming tougher with each passing day. Skyrocketing insurance rates coupled with safety regulations crippled the space for introducing major changes in design. The original MRSP base price for 1974 Dodge Challenger Hardtop was $3,141.

In this model year, lap and shoulder belts were a new change. Seatbelt-ignition interlock was introduced for safety. It was a measure to prevent the car from starting if the driver didn’t buckle up before engaging the ignition. The only major change was the placement of a 245 horsepower engine in place of the 340ci motor.

At last, in April 1974, the Challenger production was stopped.       

Production and Sales of Challenger from 1970 to 1974

The production and sales of Challenger kept falling during its five-year span. However, now this car has been turned into a valuable piece of the collection. This phenomenon has increased its value manifold.

1970 – 78,000

1971 – 26,000

1972 – 22,000

1973 – 29,000

1974 – 10,500

In conclusion, the Dodge Challenger first generation (1970 to 1974) was a legendary classic car which is still loved by muscle and pony car lovers. If you are also a cars lover then we highly recommend that you check these other classic car blogs.

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