Dodge - Challenger (All models)
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. Exterior design was done by Carl Cameron, who also did the exterior for the 1966 Dodge Charger.
Dodge Challenger 1971
Dodge Challenger Convertible
Dodge Challenger 1973
Dodge Challenger - Barney
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 80,000 sales in 1970 alone), 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.
Original "numbers matching" high-performance 1970-71 Challengers are now among the most sought-after collector cars. The rarity of specific models with big engines is the result of low buyer interest and sales with the correspondingly low production when new. The 1970 and 1971 models tend to generate more attention as performance and style options were still available to the public.
However, with the popularity of these vehicles increasing, and the number of usable and restorable Challengers falling, many collectors now search for later models to create their own dream machines. Indeed, many "clones" of the more visceral 1970 and 1971 Challengers with high-performance drivetrains have been created by using low-end 6 cylinder and 318 powered non-R/T or T/A cars and installing one of the performance engine combinations (340, 440, or 426 Hemi) and adding the specific badging and hoods to look like the real thing. A clone is not worth nearly as much as an original.