The History of the Dodge Challenger

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The History of the Dodge Challenger

The History of the Dodge Challenger

As is the case with many of the vehicles living under the modern Chrysler corporate umbrella the Dodge Challenger has an interesting history to tell. Humble as its beginning was, the first iteration of the Challenger launched back in 1958 with a short production life of just 2 years – Yet, despite this fact there are few vehicles in the Dodge lineup that have the collectible value of the Challenger – no matter the generation.

The first introduction of a Chrysler vehicle with the Challenger name was in the form of the Dodge Silver Challenger – offered as a limited edition Club Sedan on the existing fourth generation Dodge Coronet. It came in a silver paint with a stylish and exclusive Chrysler 217.4 inch (5,520 mm) long two-door style body. Customization points came down to the choice between a 230 cubic inch (3.8 litre) Getaway L-head straight-six engine or a 325 cubic inch (5.7 litre) Red Ram V8 – an engine line that would, in the years to come, be recalled as the precursor to the modern HEMI.

The History of the Dodge Challenger

Marketing for the Silver Challenger began in spring of 1958 and came with a column-shifted three-speed manual transmission with an available automatic transmission at an additional charge. Interestingly, after the name lapsed the rival automaker Studebaker – one of the oldest automakers in the world – eventually allowing the name to lapse at which point Chrysler re-acquired it and applied it to the official first generation Challenger.

Described as Dodge’s answer to the Camaro and Mustang, the Challenger became available in 1969 as a 1970 model year. Somewhat lacking in serendipity, the vehicle came a little late to a game that had seen its share of “Pony Cars” with equally impressive features establishing dominance. That said, the Challenger’s powerful engine immediately earned it the title of being the most powerful of these specially-developed vehicle.

The History of the Dodge Challenger

Available with a ton of options, including the legendary Slant 6 I-6 engine, the Challenger’s sales did not always properly reflect the qualities it is remembered for – selling a tolerable 165,437 units over the course of its five year production life. Notable cosmetic difference were offered across the models, with hardtop coupe and convertible options with two models in the introductory year. Choices between the standard Challenger and the Challenger R/T made way for additional options as the years progressed with additions that including luxury models that went on to ensure an eventual follow-up.

This came in 1978 with a revival model based on the Mitsubishi Galant Lambda coupe. Unfortunately, despite the sporty angles and attempts to attract new drivers, the second generation was hardly something to take note of – with a paltry number of sales and only 2 engine options.

This was followed by decades of quiet and an all-new model created to reflect the first and well-loved generation in 2008. Unveiled at the Detroit Motor Show in 2006, the hype for the Challenger was high – and restored the pony car/muscle car image to the Dodge lineup. Power emphasized through a strict design and an expansive interior were backed by a stylish 2-door coupe body style and a variety of impressive engines that now include the 6.2-litre Supercharged HEMI V8 that offers 707 horsepower and has earned the Challenger the title of being the most powerful muscle car to date.

Further Reading:

https://www.edmunds.com/dodge/challenger/history/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dodge_Challenger

https://media.fcanorthamerica.com/newsrelease.do?&id=7768&mid=171

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