Dodge Challenger: Now and Then
The Dodge Challenger is an iconic muscle car that has come a long way since its inception. What once started as a trim of an existing lineup went on to become its own model, with a lineup of its own, and a hunger for horsepower. Going into the 2019 model year, and soon the next-generation in 2021, let’s review where Dodge started and how it got to where it is now.
It may have been the first, but it certainly isn’t the last. When the first Challenger came to light, it was built on the Chrysler E platform, shared components with the Plymouth Barracuda, and debuted this concept in 1969. Production started the following year, offered in two body styles, a coupe and a convertible, and with many trim levels. Dodge has always been notorious for having lots of options, with a total of eight powertrain options in total.
For five years, this first generation Dodge Challenger ran fast, developing the R/T trim and the original Dodge Challenger T/A (Trans Am) designed for racing and driving on the street. Does that sound familiar? It should, but SRT didn’t come along for another 38 years. The first generation eventually ended when the 1973 Oil Crisis hit, affecting many automakers. Muscle cars took a break for several years after.
In an effort to keep the name alive, Dodge sought out other avenues for the Challenger as a sedan and compact coupe to meet the needs and standards that followed the oil crisis. Instead of reinventing a new model though, Dodge chose a cheaper strategy to reinvent the name. In 1982, Dodge bought the Mitsubishi Galant Lambda coupé and sold it under the name “Dodge Colt Challenger.”
It was during this run that Dodge started to bloom with options, not just for performance, but also driver expression. Bright colors, racing stripes, decals and graphics, these were the components that make Dodge vehicles one of personal taste today. Known as High Impact Paint colors (HIP), they became as much a part of the Dodge heritage and legacy as their high horsepower engines. The Colt Challenger was a new move for Dodge, but a coupe with a small engine just wasn’t the same.
Aside from the Colt Challenger, production stopped on the original for twenty years before the automaker gave it another shot. During the 2006 Detroit Motor Show, Dodge debuted the new Challenger. The reception was electrifying, with audiences captivated by its powerful engines and new style. Over the next two years, the concept was polished up and debuted at the 2008 Chicago Auto Show and the Philadelphia Auto Show as a 2-door notchback sedan powered by a 250hp V6 engine.
During the lifetime of the third generation, of total of eight different engines have been produced, with the SRT-8 taking the first step to introducing SRT models to the lineup. Known as “Street & Racing Technology”, that was the acronym given to Dodge Challenger trims made for high performance. In 2015, the team behind SRT gave birth to the Challenger SRT 392 and the Dodge Challenger Hellcat.
For two years, the dust settled, but the calm was short-lived.
In 2017, the first ever all-wheel drive Challenger GT model was produced and released, and the Challenger T/A was brought back for a new modern look. A year later, the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon was born. Although a one-model-year vehicle, the SRT Demon brought with it the Widebody package and inspired a new trim. The Widebody package rides on 20-inch “Devil’s Rim” aluminum wheels wrapped in (optional) Pirelli P Zero summer tires, adds extended fender flares to the body, a blacked-out rear lip spoiler, and a scalloped hood.
Now available is the 2019 Dodge Challenger, and it almost seems like a completely new vehicle. For 2019, Dodge took components and style from the Dodge Challenger SRT Demon, and infused them into the SRT Hellcat and R/T Scat Pack trims, as well as invented an upgraded SRT Hellcat – the Redeye. All three trims come with launch control, launch assist, line lock, and SRT drive modes, and can be outfitted with the Widebody package for an aggressive look. The 2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat comes with a functional, dual snorkel hood for added performance, and the new SRT Hellcat Redeye trim is capable of 797 horsepower.
Coming in 2021 is the next generation Dodge Challenger. It feels far away, but word is the new gen will come with a much needed redesign. The current generation is ten years old, and with all the new additions, it’s time to break off the seal for the fourth generation Dodge Challenger. Follow us on Aventura Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram social media to find out the latest Dodge Challenger news. You can also stop by our dealership lot and give the Dodge Challenger a test drive to find out why it’s such a legendary muscle car.