15 Dodge Challenger 1st Generation 1970–1974 American Muscle Cars, Supercharged – Ford Mustang is probably the definite pony car, but Dodge Challenger would take a race with it any day of the week in any street. We are not even talking about the current models, but the first generation of the breed which screamed power as much as its modern counterparts. Dodge developed the Challenger in 1960 to compete with the market dominated muscle cars. However, it actually took the company almost 10 years to make it ready to hit the road. The problem was nothing technical, but mostly the consideration that there would be internal competition with the performance version of the Charger. Back in 1964, a lot of sellers demanded a model that could compete with the likes of Ford Thunderbird and Ford Mustang; it was not clear which Dodge dealership that started it, but eventually everybody was on the same page and Dodge delivered. As a result, the 1968 Dodge Charger with eye-catching design and powerful performance package became arguably the best muscle car in the market.
The following year, Dodge Challenger came to the scene. Unlike Charger, the Challenger was born a pony car. It was legitimate muscle since day one. Just like the current models, the first generation was fitted with all sorts of engines to the point where the options could get overwhelming. Here’s a recap:
|Cubic Inches (Liters)||Engine||Production year||Horsepower||Notes|
|225 cu in (3.69 L)||Inline-6||1970 – 1971||145||The only Dodge Challenger models to use I6 engines.|
|1971 – 1972||110|
|318 cu in (5.21 L)||V8||1970 – 1971||230|
|1971 – 1972||155|
|340 cu in (5.6 L)||1970 – 1971||275|
|360 cu in (5.9 L)||1974||245|
|340 cu in (5.6 L)||1970||290||Dodge Challenger Trans Am (T/A) used the engine.|
|383 cu in (6.28 L)||1971||275 and 190|
|1970||330 and 240|
|1971||300 and 250|
|440 cu in (7.2 L)||1970||375||For 1971, the only Dodge Challenger to use the engine was the R/T.|
|1971||375 and 305|
|1971||385 and 330|
|426 cu in (6.98 L)||1970||425||1971 Challenger with the engine was more expensive. Very few of them sold.|
Throughout the production years of the first generation, Dodge Challenger could be graded in some sort of progression but unfortunately it went in downward direction: the first year was best, followed by another year of acceptable performance, and it ended with three years of lousiness. It was not merely the company’s fault really, but because the market for muscle car around the time of Dodge Challenger was declining. If you ever had the chance to spot Dodge Challenger 1970 – the year it was born – consider yourself lucky for seeing one of the best classic muscle cars of all time.
Little cosmetic variations happened to the first generation. E-body style remained mostly intact for 5 years of production. It was the same base as the Plymouth Barracuda but with slightly larger dimension and longer wheelbase. Such design was proven effective to create muscular visual appeal, and eventually it was revived in 2008 with some exaggerations. One of the best iterations of the design was seen on 2015 Dodge Challenger which also brought SRT Hellcat model. The 2017 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat has the same overall aesthetic yet it adds an AWD system.
Back to the first generation, total production reached relatively low number with only 165,437 units made. The Dodge Challenger 1970 will always remain a genuine classic worth buying and collecting. It is still beautiful and menacing at the same time with performance to beat.