Ford had its Mustang and Mercury its Cougar. Chevrolet had the Camaro and Pontiac the Firebird. American Motors doubled up with the Javelin and AMX. Why, even Plymouth had the Barracuda.
But until 1970, Dodge had nothing to compete in the pony car category that had become so popular with the Baby Boomers who were just getting their driving licenses and were causing a generational shift in the American automotive marketplace.
But with Chrysler redoing its E-body chassis for the 1970 model year, Dodge finally would have its own challenger in the pony car category, a vehicle quite aptly named the Challenger.
And for the 2020 model year, Dodge is celebrating the anniversary with a limited-edition 50th Anniversary Edition Challenger package that includes special “Gold School” 20-inch wheels, Satin Black hood, roof and deck lid, a body-colored hood scoop and, speaking of colors, a new body color, Gold Rush.
The package, which includes black Nappa leather and Alcantara interior with Sepia-accent stitching, carbon fiber accents, special gauge cluster and “50” logos, will be available on selected 2020 Challenger models, but will be limited to 70 (as in ’70, the first year for the Challenger) of each model in each of the available colors.
Four models — GT RWD, R/T Shaker, R/T Scat Pack Shaker and R/T Scat Pack Shaker Widebody — and seven colors means a total of 1,960 units what does this mean? Variations? . The option will be available starting in December 2019, Dodge announced, with prices ranging from $4,995 to $5,995 depending on model.
In addition, Dodge said, all 2020 Challenger SRT Hellcat and SRT Hellcat Redeye vehicles will wear 50th anniversary badging.
“When the Dodge Challenger first entered in the muscle car ranks of Detroit’s Big Three 50 years ago, it arrived with something its competitors didn’t have: the greatest range of powertrain choices in the industry, from the small but durable 225-cubic-inch ‘Slant Six’ to the fearsome ‘Elephant Motor’ — the 426 Hemi,” Dodge said in its anniversary news release.
The original Challenger also had sleek styling, “a low profile with full-width, scoop-like grille opening,” according to The Standard Encyclopedia of American Cars. “Body sides had the familiar ‘Coke-bottle’ profile with raised rear fenders tapering down at the taillights.”
The car looked fast, and it was, especially in the R/T series with a 383cid V8 topped by a 4-barrel carburetor, and in the T/A series, a homologation special that qualified the car to compete in the Sports Car Club of America’s Trans Am racing series. The road-going T/A, available only in hardtop form, was equipped with a 340cid V8 topped by a “Six Pack” setup with a trio of 2-barrel carbs.
On the race track, the Autodynamics Challenger was driven by Sam Posey (Dan Gurney drove the AAR Plymouth Barracuda) in the series in 1970.
Chrysler ended productionof the Challenger/Plymouth ‘Cuda after the 1974 model year, loaned the Challenger nameplate out to the Dodge Colt Challenger, a captive Mitsubishi sold by Dodge dealers in the late 1970s and early 1980s, but then revived the Dodge Challenger in 2008 as a retro-styled 2-door muscle car.
“The ‘golden age’ of muscle cars is now,” Dodge proclaimed as it announced the Challenge 50th Anniversary option.
“A half-century later, Dodge Challenger still leads the pack with the most powerful muscle car powertrains in the industry, ranging from the Pentastar V6 engine to the fastest, most powerful muscle car, the 797-horsepower Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye.”