Fast Lane Flashback

First Generation: 1970-1974

 

Dodge was the last company of Detroit’s Big Three to jump on the pony car bandwagon with its introduction of the Dodge Challenger in 1970. Though late to the game, the Challenger nonetheless rose to unforgettable fame and glory during the 5-year span of its first generation. The Challenger was particularly unique in that it brought something completely new to the table: no other competitor muscle car of this era had its extensive span of engine options, which ranged from the 225 cubic-inch (ci) “Slant Six” engine to any of the following: the 340, 340 “Six Pack,” 383 Magnum, 440 Magnum, 440 “Six Pack,” and, finally, the legendary 426 Hemi “Elephant Motor.” Compared to every other muscle car, the Dodge Challenger has been one of the most collectable and valuable to date, with rare restored models fetching as much as six figures. 

The Dodge Challenger - Through the Generations

By: Lawren Dame \ Associate Editor \ August 21, 2014

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But first—back to the creation of the Challenger, the classic vision which would sharply rise then swiftly fall throughout its lifetime, and ultimately make a vibrant comeback. There was no better year for this pony car than that of its very first: it placed third among its competitors for this first year of production. The Challenger had a reformed architecture which Chrysler named the “E-body,” featuring a short deck and long hood platform. The E-body was created in an effort to compete against its stiff competition, namely the Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Mustang, and it did this by maintaining an arsenal of practically every powertrain offered by Chrysler.

 

The Challenger was first offered as either a coupe or convertible with base, Special Edition (SE), Road/Track (R/T) and Trans-Am (TA) trim. In fact, the Trans-Am was one of the very first production vehicles in history to offer different size front and rear tires, with E60 15-inch wheels in front and G60 15-inch back wheels to compensate for the side exiting exhaust. As for transmissions, the choices were Chrysler’s Torqueflite automatic, a three- or four-speed manual trans with an optional Hurst shifter. There was also the Dana 60 differential for the big-block Challengers.

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Dodge Challengers were absolutely beautiful. They reflected the classic image of the pony car with long hoods and short decks, and their large engine bays provided them with a greater width than both the Mustang and Camaro. Body paint options were designed to make quite the statement, in such stupefying colors as “Lemon Twist,” “Plum Crazy,” “Panther Pink,” and “HEMI Orange.” The statement-making didn’t stop there—aside from crazy color schemes, these vehicles came bearing brazen “bumblebee” stripes, twin-scooped or shaker hoods, and rear deck wings.