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The first Challenger was the division's late entrant to the pony car market segment in the United States, launched for the 1970 model year. Intended as a competitor to the Mercury Cougar, it was based on the similar Plymouth Barracuda's new E-body. The wheelbase, at 110 inches (2,794 mm), was two inches longer and it had substantially different outer sheetmetal than its Plymouth cousin, much in the same way that the Cougar was related to the Ford Mustang.
Exterior design was done by Carl Cameron, who also did the exterior for the 1966 Dodge Charger. For the 1970 Challenger grille, Cameron based it off an older sketch of his 1966 Charger prototype that was to have a turbine engine. The Charger never got the turbine, but the Challenger got that car's grille. Although the Challenger was well-received by the public (with 76,935 produced for the 1970 model year), it was criticized by the press, and the pony car segment was already declining by the time the Challenger arrived. Sales fell dramatically after 1970, and Challenger production ceased midway through the 1974 model year. About 165,500 Challengers were sold over this model's lifespan.
Four models were offered: Challenger Six, Challenger V8, T/A Challenger, and Challenger R/T. Challengers could either be hardtops, coupes, or convertibles (through 1971 only). The standard engine on the base model was the 225 CID (3.7 L) six-cylinder. Standard engine on the V8 was the 230 horsepower (170 kW) 318 CID (5.2 L) V8 with a 2-barrel carburetor. Optional engines were the 340 CID (5.6 L) and 383 CID (6.3 L) V8s, all with a standard 3-speed manual transmission, except for the 290 horsepower (220 kW) 383 in³ engine, which was available only with the TorqueFlite automatic transmission. The 4-speed manual was optional on all engines except the 225 in³ I6 and the 383 in³ V8.
The performance model was the R/T (Road/Track), with a 383 in³ Magnum V8, rated at 335 horsepower (250 kW). Standard transmission was a 3-speed manual. Optional R/T engines were the 375 horsepower (280 kW) 440 in³ Magnum, the 390 horsepower (290 kW) 440 CID (7.2 L) Six-Pack and the 425 horsepower (317 kW) 426 CID (7 L) Hemi. The R/T was available in all three body styles; both standard and R/T hardtops could be ordered as the more luxurious SE specification, which included leather seats, a vinyl roof, a smaller 'formal' rear window, and an overhead interior console that contained three warning lights (door ajar, low fuel and seatbelts). The Challenger R/T came with a Rallye instrument cluster which included a 150 mph (240 km/h) speedometer, an 8000 rpm tachometer, and an oil pressure gauge. The convertible Challenger was available with any engine, as well as in the R/T and SE trim levels. In 1972, Dodge dropped the R/T badging and now called it the "Rallye", although it was never badged as such. Other options, as well as engines and a manual transmission, included steeper rear axle ratios, a limited-slip differential, and a shaker hood scoop were gone for 1972.
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Check out the Dodge Challenger wallpapers and Dodge Challenger Pictures (pics) collection below: