MotorCities National Heritage Area
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By Robert Tate, Automotive Historian and Researcher
Images Courtesy of Chrysler Archives
Published 5.29.2019

Ad featuring the front end of the 1970 Dodge Challenger Chrysler Archives RESIZED 1Ad featuring the front end of the 1970 Dodge Challenger (Chrysler Archives)

The 1970s was a decade of great automobile design and high performance, which many Americans still remember fondly.

I remember the 1970 Dodge Challenger when it was introduced to the public in the fall of 1969. I always thought the car represented excitement and performance, offering the consumer a long hood design with a short rear deck that would appeal to the sports car enthusiast.Ad for the 1970 Dodge Challenger Chrysler Archives 2Ad for the 1970 Dodge Challenger (Chrysler Archives)

The 1970s Dodge Challenger and Challenger R/T models were very popular with the buying public. They offered a unique sheet metal design, from its wraparound bumpers to a smaller design window. Concealed windshield wipers, ventless door glass, post-type door latches, floating caliper disc brakes, automatic speed control and bucket seat adjusters were all a part of the Dodge Challenger’s package. After their introduction, the 1970s Dodge Challenger body designs stayed pretty much the same.  Ad for the 1970 Dodge Challenger Chrysler Archives 3Ad for the 1970 Dodge Challenger (Chrysler Archives)

The Challenger was part of a new line of performance cars from the Chrysler Corporation, known as their “SCAT PACK” models, which also included the Dart Swinger 340, Super Bee, Charger and Daytona models. Another popular Dodge Challenger model was the T/A, which stood for Trans Am. The Dodge Challenger T/A model was something special and a great looking model. They offered a 6-pack 340 engine with a rally suspension, front disc brakes and many other great options.1971 Dodge Challenger Convertible Indy 500 Pace Car Chrysler Archives 41971 Dodge Challenger Convertible Indy 500 Pace Car (Chrysler Archives)

Bob McCurry, Dodge general manager at the time, had announced that the T/A was scheduled to enter production in early March 1970, and the first 2,500 units were completed by mid-April. The 1970 Dodge Challenger models were officially introduced to the public on September 25, 1969.1971 Dodge Challenger Motown Missile Hive Mind RESIZED 51971 Dodge Challenger Motown Missile (Hive Mind)

The 1971 Challenger models offered the same basic body styles – hardtop and convertible –with very little changes, and Dodge manufactured 23,088 units for the year. That same year, a Dodge Challenger convertible represented Chrysler as the pace car for the 55th Indianapolis 500. The model was painted Hemi Orange and was very popular among race fans. The production 1971 Dodge Challenger convertible had a sticker price of $3,105.Ad for Dodge Challenger Rallye Chrysler Archives RESIZED 6Ad for Dodge Challenger Rally (Chrysler Archives)

Dodge Challengers were also very popular on the racetrack. For example, the “Motown Missile” 1970 Dodge Challenger displayed great performance and became very popular among Chrysler fans. Chrysler engineers from the Drag Racing Research and Development group were very involved with the high performance process. Don Carlton was the driver of the Motown Missile in the photo included with this story from the 1971 NHRA Spring Nationals in Dallas, Texas.2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Chrysler Archives RESIZED 72018 Dodge Challenger SRT (Chrysler Archives)

In conclusion, the Dodge Challenger models that have been reintroduced today are very popular, especially with younger drivers. Today, the Dodge Challenger features models like the SRT Hellcat Redeye and the Demon, keeping its muscle car tradition alive for future generations to come.

Bibliography

McPherson, Thomas A. “The Dodge Story.” Crestline Publishing, 1975.

Collins, Tom. “Chrysler Muscle Detroit’s Mightiest Machines.” Krause Publications, 2003.

Dodge Public Relations. “Challenger: Dodge’s Exciting Specialty Sporty Car for 1970.” August 27, 1969.