Monday, August 22, 2011

Musclecar Monday - 1970 Dodge Challenger

The Challenger was Dodge's answer to the Mustang and Camaro. It was one of two Chrysler E-body cars, the other being the slightly smaller Plymouth Barracuda. Both the Challenger and Barracuda were available in a staggering number of trim and option levels and were intended to compete against cars like the Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Mustang, and to do it while offering virtually every engine in Chrysler's inventory. However, they were a late response to the ponycar wave the Ford Mustang had started. Chrysler intended the new Dodge as the most potent ponycar ever, and positioned it to compete against the Mercury Cougar and Pontiac Firebird.
Exterior design was done by Carl Cameron, who also did the exterior for the 1966 Dodge Charger. Cameron based the 1970 Challenger grille 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. The Challenger was well-received by the public with 76,935 produced for the 1970 model year.
Race career - a short stint in the Trans Am series:
Dodge contracted Ray Caldwell's Autodynamics firm in Marblehead, Massachusetts to run the factory Trans-Am team. Sam Posey drove the No.77 "sub-lime" painted car that Caldwell's team built from a car taken off a local dealer's showroom floor. When the No.76 was completed mid-seasons, Posey alternated between the two. Both cars ran the final two races, with Posey in the #77. Ronnie Bucknum drove the No.76 at Seattle Washington, and Tony Adamowicz drove it at Riverside, California. No victories but a bunch of strong finishes. Chrysler pulled the plug on the entire program after one season.

Lastly, the Dodge Challenger was immoralized in the 1971 cult classic film "Vanishing Point":