Dodge Challenger Through the Times
The Dodge Challenger has come a long way since its beginnings. Only in its third generation, some could call it young, but that wouldn’t be true. Having started back in 1959 as an add-on model to an existing lineup, known as the Silver Challenger, the Dodge Challenger we know today didn’t begin its own journey until 1970. Through many trials and tribulations, it made it all the way to 2017, and it sure is owning the road.
1970 – First Generation
The first generation of the Dodge Challenger came into being during the 1970 model-year, with its public introduction in 1969. The original Challenger was built on the Chrysler E platform, shared components with the Plymouth Barracuda, and was built to be a more affordable yet fairly equivalent version of the Barracuda. Also, the Challenger was the answer Dodge provided to compete with the Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Mustang.
Offered in two body styles, a coupe and a convertible, and about as many trims and option levels as there were engines available (a total of eight engines in total), the Challenger lineup included a little something for everyone. During its five year run, there were minor cosmetic variations on the first generation Dodge Challenger, and it was during this time that the R/T trim we know today was developed, as well as the original Dodge Challenger T/A (Trans Am) for racing and the street. However, Dodge hit a bit of a snag in 1973 during the 1973 Oil Crisis. Many performance cars suffered during this time, Dodge cars being one of them, and the muscle car went under for several years.
1978 – Second Generation
In an attempt to keep the Challenger name alive, Dodge sought out sedan and compact coupe body styles that they could work with. An uncommon fact is that Dodge used a second vehicle to keep itself afloat during its second generation – a Mitsubishi model. Before Mitsubishi Motors made its official debut in the states (1982), Dodge bought the Mitsubishi Galant Lambda coupé and sold it under the name “Dodge Colt Challenger.” Ring any bells?
Due to the inability to produce a muscle car at the time, the Dodge Challenger went for a more sporty look with bright colors and racing stripes. Those two design features bloomed what we know today as Dodge High Impact Paint colors, now part of Dodge heritage and legacy. Other than that, the Dodge Colt Challenger kept much of the look of the original Challenger, but used smaller engines to keep it from hitting performance margins as well as consuming a lot of gas. However, Dodge had now become known as a muscle car brand, and the Colt Challenger just didn’t do the name enough justice.
2008 – Third Generation
For twenty years, production stopped on the Challenger – but its pause in production was bowed, but not beaten. Unveiled at the Detroit Motor Show in 2006, reception of the new Challenger was like nothing before. The third generation Dodge Challenger concept captivated audiences with its powerful engines and new styling, becoming an instant success. The first new Challenger model debuted in 2008 at the Chicago Auto Show and the Philadelphia Auto Show as a 2-door notchback sedan. This new model shared elements of the first Dodge Challenger and was powered by a V6 engine capable of generating 250 horsepower.
Over the years, many trims came about, and many engines, too. In total, there have been eight engines that have lived under the hood of the Dodge Challenger. Notable models include the Mopar ‘10 Challenger R/T, the Dodge Rallye, and the Dodge SRT-8. The Dodge SRT-8 was actually the first step to introducing SRT models to the lineup. In 2015, the Dodge Challenger SRT 392 and Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat were both brought into the fold.
Two years later, that brings us to 2017, the Dodge Challenger got its first ever all-wheel drive Challenger GT model. Dodge also brought back the Dodge Challenger T/A and debuted the new 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody. Moreover, let us not forget the all-mighty 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon.
Now, we’re all waiting to see what will happen next. Only 3,000 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon units are available in the U.S. and there’s no telling what Dodge will do with or for the Challenger SRT Demon in 2019. Whatever 2018 holds for us, and the auto industry, is unclear, but it sure looks interesting.
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