Throughout its rich history, the Dodge Challenger has evolved into three various generations of vehicles under Chrysler’s Dodge division. Each generation produced a different vehicle that catered to varying consumer needs. Despite such huge differences, however, all Dodge Challengers are known for their power engines, spacious interiors, and comfortable driving experience. Today, the Challenger is still in production and continues to attract buyers looking for a classic muscle car that oozes with nostalgia.
1970-1974: The Dodge Challenger challenges the Camaro and Mustang
Introduced in the seventies as a rival vehicle against the Camaro and Mustang, the first-gen Challenger was equipped with an E-body platform, huge dimensions, a longer wheelbase, and a more luxurious interior. The model was also available in various option packages and trim levels to be able to compete with other powerful and fancy-looking muscle cars. It was also built to compete with the 1967 Mercury Cougar, a luxurious pony car that targeted rich, young consumers.
This model was sold in four hardtop versions: Challenger R/T, Challenger T/A, Challenger V8, and Challenger Six. As a performance model, the R/T version was equipped with a 383 CID Magnum V8 engine and was available as a convertible or hardtop. Standard R/T features included a Rallye instrument cluster equipped with an 8000 RPM tachometer and a 150 mph speedometer.
Over the years, it received several cosmetic changes. The 1971 units were equipped with a split grille, while the 1972 models featured a “sad mouth” grille under the front bumper. Because of its unique design, performance, and undeniable muscle-car personality, first-gen Dodge Challengers are highly sought-after collectibles.
1978-1983: The Challenger as an early Mitsubishi Galant Lambda coupe
In 1978, the second-gen Challenger was re-introduced as an early version of the Mitsubishi Galant Lambda coupe. Almost identical to the Plymouth Sapporo, what set the Challenger apart are its tape stripes, brightly colored exteriors, and a sportier look. In 1981, upgrades such as redesigned headlights made the Challenger a more eye-catching coupe. This model also showcased Mitsubishi’s pioneering efforts on the use of balance shafts to dampen vibration that are common in small, four-cylinder engines.
2008-present: Reviving the old-school Challenger
In 2006, a preview of the Dodge Challenger Concept was presented at the Detroit Motor Show, although production didn’t start until 2008. The design concept for the third-gen Challenger was based on the 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T, reviving the Challenger as homage to classic muscle cars. The new version was introduced in 2008 as a two-door coupe equipped with a modified LC chassis. Many of its parts were from the Mercedes-Benz W220 and W211 E-Class models. During its first year of production, a total of 6,400 units were pre-sold, solidifying Challenger’s hold on the muscle car segment. Today, the most recent model continues to attract buyers looking for a true-blue muscle car that’s spacious and offers a more refined driving experience.