Challenger might have been late to the pony car party, however it did so fashionably. 50 decades later, that entry remains memorable.
Ironically, it had been that the Dodge’s sister branch, Plymouth, was really first into the celebration using its Barracuda. Released only a few weeks prior to the Ford Mustang at April 1964, the Barracuda shared Mustang the formulation which could make this sporty, young section such a massive seller throughout the 1960s: long hood, short deck and streamlined proportions at a sporty front-engine, rear-drive bundle. While that the Mustang was predicated upon the Ford Falcon system, its styling was completely new; therefore, the spendier Barracuda was clearly a fastback version of the present Plymouth Valiant. The Mustang was a runaway success with 121,538 marketed for 1964 while the Barracuda and its own suggestion curved-glass backlight could just be thought of as a moderate success with 22,443 sold which abbreviated season. Had the earliest Barracuda been as popular as the Mustang, maybe we would be calling cars in its category “fish cars” instead of “pony cars.”
Through the remainder of this 1960therefore, the Barracuda heavily trailed the Mustang in sales. In 1967, Plymouth completely restyled the Barracuda and added coupe and convertible versions, but that season Chevrolet and Pontiac established their individual Camaro and Firebird pony cars. That year, Ford Motor Co. Added a Mercury pony car together with all the Cougar. The powerful rivalry from the youth-oriented pony car area abandoned the Barracuda swimming against the present. For that the 1970 version year, Chrysler Corp. Began fishing in an entire different body of water — one which could have space for Dodge.
Under mythical Chrysler Corp. Vice-President of Design Elwood Engle, designers Bill Brownlie and Carl Cameron came up with fresh pony automobiles for Plymouth and Dodge to market beginning from the 1970 model season. Realizing that the massive potential from the pony car group, Chrysler administration expected it might carve out a percentage and market in excess of 200,000 of its own new Dodge and Plymouth pony automobiles although Plymouth fought to market even 50,000 Barracudas annually throughout the 1960s.
Enter the E body
Like that the 1960s Barracuda, the brand new MoPar teaser car will be contingent upon the streamlined A body, at least originally. After Chrysler Corp. Preparation was penalized on the 1970 brand new car, Ford and General Motors began pruning big-block V-8 engines in their own brand new cars. The largest engine Chrysler intended to place in its new-for-’70 pony automobiles was that the 383-cid V-8, therefore engineers and engineers tweaked a body platform so as to add width to get a bigger engine. The result utilized the firewall-to-radiator aid of this mid-size B body (Charger/Satellite), which may be had with all the 440- and 426-cid engines. )
This new pony automobile species has been termed “E body,” and placing it apart was a magnificent low and wide stance, a close-coupled passenger compartment as well as the long hood and short rear deck anticipated of a pony car. The Barracuda and Challenger designs featured a handsome kick after the door and to the quarter panel at the “Darrin dip” style popular decades before. Dodge highlighted this dip using a body character line that paralleled the car’s beltline, for example, dip. Aggressive grille layouts of equally Challenger and Barracuda were channeled deep to the entrance, and taillamps appeared just like red hot exhaust ports which were likewise channeled within the body. Coupe and also convertibles were provided in either the Barracuda and Challenger lines.
Although The brand new Dodge Challenger and Plymouth Barracuda cut comparable profiles for 1970they had been subtly different cars on the exterior. The Challenger had a wheelbase 2 in. Longer compared to Barracuda (110 in. Versus 108 in.) Along with the Challenger was 5 in. Longer compared to Barracuda. These differences were aimed toward the mid-price Mercury Cougar and Pontiac Firebird pony automobiles which Dodge meant to challenge.
Challenger’s interior featured quite mod three-dimensional plastic door panels along with a sleek, uncluttered instrument panel of fitting plastic stuff. Instruments were laid out in four big, round pods. The Challenger featured an energy-absorbing steering column and advertised the featured having an exaggerated accordion-like cover within the pillar.
The Challenger was provided in a number of traces: a highline, a lowline, an upscale SE version along with a performance R/T variant with an R/T-SE variant accessible. The SE, for Special Edition, featured a plastic roof which covered a fiberglass casing that made the back window smaller to get a more formal impact. The SE inside has been more lavish with a overhead console and accessible leather inside. Challenger could also be constructed as a SCCA-inspired Trans Am variant together with all the 340-cid V-8.
Right from this gate, accessible Challenger engines comprised Chrysler’s full line, by the 225-cid “Slant Six” into the 426 Hemi together with all the 340, 383 and 440 (four- or six-barrel carburetion) additionally options. The base engine at the Challenger R/T was the 383-cid V-8. A Challenger may be wild or mild, together with all the most bizarre Hemi and 440 Six Pack variations one of the fastest street cars of the whole muscle car age.
Challenger blends might be downright dizzying as in addition to the engine and model options, there have been luxury choices and performance choices: Go Wing spoiler, headlamp time delay, stripes, numerous wheel and wheel cover options, Shaker hood scoop and much more. Colors ranged from subtle brown and green earth tones to High-Impact Panther Pink and Plum Crazy. Shifting may be done on the pillar or via a Slap-Stick wood-handled shifter from the console. Despite constructing a Challenger for each individual — out of pastor and grandparent to teenage troublemaker — Dodge lost money on the Challenger program. Only 83,032 were marketed in 1970 and also with only 55,499 Barracuda sales added in to its model year, manufacturing was nicely under Chrysler Corp. ‘s anticipation of 200,000 E-body automobiles per model year. Sales were worse in 1971 and in 1972, Challenger’s grille and tail panel were restyled and the outcome was unflattering in contrast to the first. Performance dropped dramatically afterwards 1971 if the triple-carbureted Six Pack 440 and 426 Hemi were lost.
Challenger sales were suppressed by inner contest from the restyled and more economical 1970 Dart and the Dart-established Demon fastback of 1971. Sales of this new 1970 Barracuda and its own functionality derivative, the’Cuda, were also overcome up internally by the new fastback Plymouth Valiant Duster and restyled Valiant Scamp. Some quality management woes further afield sales of this E-bodies. The ending arrived for the first Challenger, in addition to the Barracuda, in 1974.
Rise into the top
As used automobiles and to the 1980therefore, the Challenger was a little an underappreciated stepchild from the muscle car world with interest and values lagging behind GM and Ford pony cars of the age. After the turn of this century, interest in those rapid, strong and handsome and finely styled noodle automobiles turned and they became one of the most precious muscle cars. Hemi Challengers started to sell for six figures plus it required seven figures to get a Hemi Challenger convertible.
The Challenger might not have lived to Chrysler’s manufacturing expectations 50 decades past, but it is undoubtably a winner now.
*As an Amazon Associate, Old Cars earns from qualifying purchases. )