Dodge celebrates Challenger’s 50th birthday with ‘Gold School’ option

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Challenger
Dodge introduced its pony car, the Challenger, for the 1970 model year | FCA photos

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. 

Dodge unveils the 50th Anniversary Edition 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.

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In addition, Dodge said, all 2020 Challenger SRT Hellcat and SRT Hellcat Redeye vehicles will wear 50th anniversary badging.

1970 Dodge Challenger T/A had 6-pack carbs atop 340cid V8

“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.

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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.”

A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

9 COMMENTS

  1. That’s cool!

    My 1970 Challenger R/T Convertible just had its 50th birthday (day it left the assembly line) a week ago November 20th.

  2. Graduated high school in ’78. Unlike the anime styled new Camaro & Mustang, the current Challengers bring the ’70’s and all the best memories back with a vengeance; I’m a GTO guy, but always smile when I see a Challenger, even the base V6 models. Just the shape, I guess, but so many good friends/times then. Dodge grabbed the era perfectly. I hope they never change.
    Four door Charger shoulda been a Polara, tho’ (imo). Or Royal Monaco- fierce cop cars in the day, 440/4bbl police package maybe wasn’t the best stoplight dragster, but those things could flat roll on the Interstate… don’t ask how I know this.
    Happy and blessed Thanksgiving to all y’all.

    • The yellow challenger photo you are showing is a retouched 1970 TA Challenger that includes a 1971 grille. The art was made in case a 1971 TA Challenger was release, but it was not.

    • I’m sure you love the Dodge’s with the yellow shipping plastic pieces that people leave on their cars as well. You are fanboy. Probably love the Patriots Too.

  3. I bought my cream1969 Dodge Dart Swinger 340 with 4 speed hurst 12-28-70 used and I still have it and what Fun to drive even with manual steering and drum brakes!

    • you still have it? Wow. I had a 1970 shaker 340 4 sp Challenger in 76/77 and a 1970 340 4 sp Swinger in 1978. Cars were just too much fun that I had to get rid of them after awhile. I have more memories of those cars than cars and trucks that I put 200k miles on over 12 years. Never could forget those cars. Bought and sold for 800 & 450 and they ran great & were in good shape. Not perfect.

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