First generation (1970–1974)
The Challenger was described in a book about 1960s American cars as Dodge's "answer to the Mustang and Camaro. It was one of two Chrysler E-body cars, the other being the slightly smaller Plymouth Barracuda. "Both the Challenger and Barracuda were available in a staggering number of trim and option levels" and were intended "to compete against cars like the Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Mustang, and to do it while offering virtually every engine in Chrysler's inventory." However, the Challenger was "a rather late response to the ponycar wave the Ford Mustang had started." In his book Hemi Muscle Cars,Robert Genat wrote that the Challenger was conceived in the late 1960s as Dodge's equivalent of the Plymouth Barracuda, and that the Barracuda was designed to compete against the Mustang. The Barracuda was actually the first car in this sporty car segment by a few months, but was quickly overshadowed by the release of the segment defining Mustang (the segment being referred to as "Pony Car"). He added that Chrysler intended the new Dodge as "the most potent ponycar ever," and positioned it "to compete against the Mercury Cougar and Pontiac Firebird." Genat also noted that the "Barracuda was intended to compete in the marketplace with the Mustang and Camaro/Firebird, while the Dodge was to be positioned against the Cougar" and other more luxury-type musclecars. 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 wheelbase, at 110 inches (2,794 mm), was two inches longer than the Barracuda, and the Dodge differed substantially from the Plymouth in its outer sheetmetal, much as the Cougar differed from the shorter-wheelbase Ford Mustang. A/C and a rear window defogger were optional. Exterior design was done by Carl Cameron, who also did the exterior for the 1966 Dodge Charger. Cameron based the 1970 Challenger grille off an older sketch of his 1966 Charger prototype that was to have a turbine engine. The Charger never got the turbine, but the Challenger got that car's grille. Although the Challenger was well received by the public (with 76,935 produced for the 1970 model year), it was criticized by the press, and 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. 165,437 Challengers were sold over this model's lifespan. A 1970 Challenger R/T 440 Magnum is the centerpiece of the existentialist 1971 film "Vanishing Point". [Models
1970 Dodge Challenger R/T coupe with a 426-cubic inch engine Four hardtop models were offered: Challenger Six, Challenger V8, Challenger T/A (1970 only), and Challenger R/T with a convertible version available only in 1970 and 1971. Although there were no factory-built R/T Challenger convertibles for 1971, the R/T continued as a model with the hardtop body-style. The standard engine on the base model was the 225 cu in (3.7 L) six-cylinder. The standard engine on the V8 was the 230 bhp (171.5 kW)318 cu in (5.2 L) V8 with a 2-barrel carburetor. Optional engines were the 340 cu in (5.6 L) and 383 cu in (6.3 L) V8s, all with a standard 3-speed manual transmission, except for the 290 bhp (216.3 kW) 383 CID engine, which was available only with the TorqueFlite automatic transmission. A 4-speed manual was optional on all engines except the 225 CID I6 and the 2-barrel 383 CID V8. 1971 Dodge Challenger convertible
The performance model was the R/T (Road/Track), with a 383 CID Magnum V8, rated at 335 bhp (249.8 kW); 300 bhp (223.7 kW) for 1971, due to a drop in compression. The standard transmission was a 3-speed manual. Optional R/T engines were the 375 bhp (279.6 kW) 440 cu in (7.2 L) Magnum,...
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