1970 – 1974
Introduced in fall 1969 for the 1970 model year, the Challenger was one of two Chrysler E-body cars, the other being the slightly smaller Plymouth Barracuda. Positioned to compete against the Mercury Cougar and Pontiac Firebird in the upper end of the pony car market segment, it was “a rather late response” to the Ford Mustang, which debuted in April 1964. Even so, Chrysler intended the new Challenger as the most potent pony car ever, and like the less expensive Barracuda, it was available in a staggering number of trim and option levels, and with virtually every engine in Chrysler’s inventory.
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 110 in (2,800 mm) wheelbase was 2 in (51 mm) longer than the Barracuda’s, and the Dodge differed substantially in its sheet metal, much as the Cougar differed from the shorter-wheelbase Mustang. Air conditioning and a rear window defogger were optional. With 1971 being the sole exception, the front ends of both cars differed from each other in that the Challenger had four headlights and the Barracuda had only two; a trend replicated by offerings from Chrysler’s rivals.
The exterior design was penned by Carl Cameron, who was also responsible for the exterior designs of the 1966 Dodge Charger. Cameron based the 1970 Challenger grille on an older sketch of a stillborn 1966 Charger prototype that was to have a turbine engine. 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 first-generation Challengers were sold.
1970 Dodge Challenger R/T
1970 Dodge Challenger R/T with a 426-cubic inch SHAKER engine
A special model only available for the 1970 model year was the Challenger T/A (Trans Am) racing homologation car. In order to race in the Sports Car Club of America’s Trans American Sedan Championship Trans Am, Dodge built a street version of its race car (just like Plymouth with its Plymouth ‘Cuda AAR) which is called the Dodge Challenger T/A (Trans Am).
1970 Dodge Challenger T/A
1971 Dodge Challenger R/T
1972 Dodge Challenger R/T
1973 Dodge Challenger R/T
1973 Dodge Challenger
1974 Dodge Challenger R/T