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Dodge Challenger

The Dodge Challenger is the name of three different generations of automobiles produced by the American automobile manufacturer Dodge. However, the first use of the Challenger name by Dodge dates back to 1959 for marketing a "value version" of the full-sized Coronet Silver Challenger.

From model years 1970 to 1974, the first-generation Dodge Challenger pony car was built using the Chrysler E platform in hardtop and convertible body styles sharing significant components with the Plymouth Barracuda.

The second generation, from model years 1978 to 1983, was a badge engineered Mitsubishi Galant Lambda / Sapporo, a coupe version of an economical compact car.

The third and current generation is a full-size muscle car that was introduced in early 2008 initially as a rival to the evolved fifth generation Ford Mustang and the fifth generation Chevrolet Camaro.

In November 2021, Stellantis announced that the 2023 model year would be the final model year for both the LD Dodge Charger and LA Dodge Challenger, as the company will focus its plans on electric vehicles rather than fossil fuel-powered vehicles, due to tougher emissions standards required by the Environmental Protection Agency for the 2023 model year. Challenger production ended on December 22, 2023, and the Brampton, Ontario assembly plant will be re-tooled to assemble an electrified successor.

Introduced in the autumn of 1969 for the 1970 model year, the Challenger was one of two Chrysler E-body cars, the other being the slightly smaller Plymouth Barracuda. Positioned to compete against the Mercury Cougar and Pontiac Firebird in the upper end of the pony car market segment, it was "a rather late response" to the Ford Mustang, which debuted in April 1964. Even so, Chrysler intended the new Challenger as the most potent pony car ever, and like the less expensive Barracuda, it was available in a staggering number of trim and option levels, and with virtually every engine in Chrysler's inventory.

Dodge's first usage of the Challenger name was for a trim package in 1959 called the Dodge Silver Challenger, which was a two-door coupe only.

The Challenger's longer wheelbase, larger dimensions, and more luxurious interior were prompted by the launch of the 1967 Mercury Cougar, likewise, a bigger, more luxurious, and more expensive pony car aimed at affluent young American buyers. The 110 in (2,800 mm) wheelbase was 2 in (51 mm) longer than the Barracuda's, and the Dodge differed substantially in its sheet metal, much as the Cougar differed from the shorter-wheelbase Mustang. Air conditioning and a rear window defogger were optional. With 1971 being the sole exception, the front ends of both cars differed from each other in that the Challenger had four headlights and the Barracuda had only two; a trend replicated by offerings from Chrysler's rivals. The exterior design was penned by Carl Cameron, who was also responsible for the exterior designs of the 1966 Dodge Charger. Cameron based the 1970 Challenger grille on an older sketch of a stillborn 1966 Charger prototype that was to have a turbine engine. The pony car segment was already declining by the time the Challenger arrived. Sales fell dramatically after 1970, and though sales rose for the 1973 model year with over 27,800 cars being sold, Challenger production ceased midway through the 1974 model year. A total of 165,437 first-generation Challengers were sold.

Beginning with the 1978 model year, Dodge marketed a rebadged variant of the early Mitsubishi Galant Lambda coupe, as the Dodge Challenger — through Dodge dealers as a captive import, initially as the "Dodge Colt Challenger". Chrysler's Plymouth brand marketed its rebadged variant as the Plymouth Sapporo, and a rebadged variant was marketed overseas as the Mitsubishi Sapporo/Scorpion and sold.

The Sapporo and Challenger were redesigned in 1981 with revised bodywork with increased footroom, headroom, trunk capacity, and soundproofing. Both cars were marketed until 1983, when they were replaced by the Conquest using the same rear-wheel-drive platform through 1989, and in 1984 by the front-wheel-drive Laser and Daytona.

The car retained the frameless hardtop styling of the old Challenger, but had smaller engines, a 1.6 L inline-four and a 2.6 L inline-four instead of the slant-6 and V8 engines of the original Challenger models. The engines were rated at power outputs of 77–105 hp (57–78 kW). Mitsubishi pioneered the use of balance shafts to help damp engine vibrations.

In late 2005, Dodge teased spy photos of the Dodge Challenger prototype on the internet, and it was announced on November 21, 2005, showing an official sketch of the vehicle. The Dodge Challenger Concept was unveiled at the 2006 North American International Auto Show and was a preview for the third-generation Dodge Challenger that started its production in 2008. Many design cues of the Dodge Challenger Concept were adapted from the 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T.

The Challenger was introduced to the SCCA Trans Am Series in 1970. Two factory-backed cars were prepared by Ray Caldwell's Autodynamics and driven by Sam Posey and Tony Adamowicz. The No.77 car was built at Autodynamics from a street Challenger T/A taken from a local dealer showroom. The No.76 chassis arrived mid-season from Dan Gurney's All-American Racers and was completed by Autodynamics.

  • Dodge's early to mid-1970s factory-supported "Kit Car" program for short-track late-model stock car racing offered a choice of Challenger, and a few (less than 12) were made. Still, in 1974, Dodge ended the Challenger line, and they went to the Dodge Dart Sports and Dodge Aspen bodies over a steel-tube chassis.
  • Blackforest Motorsports has currently entered a Challenger in the Continental Challenge.
  • The Challenger R/T has been used as the Chrysler model for starting in 2010 NASCAR Nationwide Series competition.

With Dodge officially out of NASCAR at the end of the 2012 season, the remaining cars and racing parts have been bought up by "privateer" racing teams and continue to show up in Nationwide Series during the 2013 and 2014 seasons. J. J. Yeley indicated his two-car team would continue to field a Challenger in the series for as long as he can find parts to keep the cars running. The team stopped after the 2014 season after his No. 93 (later No. 28) regularly ran in the top 20 during races. However, the Mike Harmon-owned No. 74, and the Derek White-operated No. 40 qualified and ran Dodges in 2015. Mike Harmon Racing ran a Dodge the entire season and also did so in 2016, and has raced in over half of the 2017 season so far. Likewise, White's MBM Motorsports team fielded the Nos. 13 and 40 as Dodges in some races. MBM continues to field Dodges into 2018 with Timmy Hill in the 66 (was the 13).

In late 2014, two Challengers fielded by Miller Racing with the support of SRT and Mopar, driven by Cameron Lawrence and Joe Stevens, started racing in the Trans-Am Series TA2 class. Both cars used a spec Howe road racing tube chassis with fiberglass bodies. Powered by a Hemi 392 slightly modified for road racing extremes and restricted by class rules, the cars made around 500 horsepower. Except for the slightly bulged fenders and a large rear wing, the cars look much like the stock/street version despite being roughly 7/8s the size of the road car. Lawrence won four of the twelve races in the 2015 season, finishing third overall in the Trans Am TA2 championship.

Joe Stevens in the No. 11 "Green Car" finished sixth overall after fourth place at the season finale at Daytona International Speedway. Joe Stevens also received the Cool Shirt Hard Charger award for his excellent rookie season performance. For the 2016 season, the Stevens-Miller Team fielded three Challengers in the TA2 series and ran in 16 events, scoring a few wins. The No. 77 car was painted in a throw-back scheme similar to the 1970 No. 77 car driven by Sam Posey. The No. 12 car occasionally fielded a blue scheme paying tribute to the Plymouth Cuda Trans-Am car driven by Swede Savage.

In March 2017, the Challenger returned to compete at Sebring after a nearly 40-year absence from Trans-Am's fastest racing class TA class in Tra. Jeff Hinkle drove it under the American V8 Road Racing team with John Debenedictis as crew chief. The car was orange and purple with stripes of many of the other challenger colors to celebrate the current stable of cars for the street. It is powered by a Penske Engines Mopar R5 / P7 carbureted engine producing 855 hp (638 kW). In its debut, it qualified 16th and finished 9th out of 24.

At all Superbike World Championship races in the United States, Fiat's Alfa Romeo safety car is replaced with Chrysler's Dodge Challenger.

On August 15, 2022, Stellantis formally announced that Dodge Challenger, Charger, and Chrysler 300 production would end following the 2023 model year, stating tightening U.S. EPA emissions requirements as reasons for doing so. In response, the company announced a series of "Last-Call" models with special paint and unique trims to commemorate the Challenger and Charger. The final Dodge Challenger, a Pitch-Black Demon 170, rolled off the Brampton assembly line on December 22, 2023; it was also the very last vehicle built on a derivative of the long-running Chrysler LX Platform, which was introduced in 2004 for the 2005 model year. After production, the Brampton, Ontario assembly plant will be re-tooled to assemble electric vehicles and the next-generation Jeep Compass.

While it is currently unknown whether the Challenger name will return on a future vehicle, Stellantis announced that an electrified successor to both the Charger and Challenger would be introduced in 2024 for the 2025 model year in the form of a three-door liftback, utilizing the Charger name. Moreover, the company announced that the all-new electric power plants will produce 455 horsepower on the base model and over 800 horsepower using the Banshee 800-volt power plant. An internal combustion version is rumored to be offered as well, utilizing the twin-turbocharged 3.0L Hurricane inline-6 engine, shared with the Jeep Wagoneer/Grand Wagoneer and 2025 Ram 1500; it is set to be paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission.

  • Official website
  • Dodge Challenger at Curlie
  • Dodge Challenger: History of the Dodge Pony Car

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