Car of the Week: Dodge Challenger

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A favourite of Hollywood films for decades (most notably in Vanishing Point); the Dodge Challenger is the epitome of American motoring. The Challenger is Dodge’s answer to the Mustang and the Camero. However, in truth, it was sadly a rather late response to these motoring juggernauts.

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Conceived in the late 1950s, the Challenger was intended to match the Mustang and the Camero in every regard, becoming the best ‘pony car’ on the market, competing against muscle cars that were at the top end.

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In fact, the Challenger’s extended wheelbase and larger dimensions were so popular at this end of the market that it prompted the launch of the Mercury Cougar.

Sadly, by the time that the first generation of the Challenger arrived on the scene in 1970 (it had been preceded by the Silver Challenger), sales were already starting to decline. Sales peaked once again in 1973, but fell dramatically once more in 1974. However, in spite of this, over 165,000 Challengers were sold in the lifespan of the first generation, so it can hardly be described as a dud.

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Over the course of its lifetime, there were various versions of the Challenger, including both a hardtop and a convertible. The base model Challenger carried either a V6 or a V8 engine, but there was also an R/T model that hosted a 6.28 litre V8. In addition, in 1971, a Challenger Coupe model was added.

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The body of the Challenger changed very little over the course of the run, but there were two notable cosmetic changes. Until 1972, the grille was split, whereas, from 1972, the “sad mouth grille” was extended. In 1974, the rear bumper was also modified to meet crash test safety regulations.

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The other change, effective from 1970 onwards, was to the taillights. In 1970 the taillights went right the way across the back of the car, with the backup light in the middle. However, in 1971, this changed and the backup lights shifted to the left and right of the rear. In 1972, this changed again, and the Challenger had four individual rectangular lamps for the rest of the run.

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Due to its relatively low total production, the Challenger is now incredibly rare and collectible; especially as only a few of the original run survive. If you’re interested in a Challenger, now is the time to get one, before they’re consigned to museums and private collections.

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This particular 1971 model features a 320 bhp V8 engine and was imported back in 2003. With green leather upholstery complimenting the green exterior, this model is very beautiful.

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In terms of gadgets, the Challenger has a 3 speed automatic gear box, air conditioning, power steering, a radio and a three spoke black leather steering wheel. If you’re interested in seeing the full listing, click here.

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