1970 Dodge Challenger
8-cyl. 383cid/290hp 2bbl
With an experienced team and a lot of data.
The 1970 Dodge Challenger was Dodge’s pony car answer to the Ford Mustang and the Chevrolet Camaro, and finally appeared in the fall of 1969. Simultaneously, Plymouth gained a redesigned Barracuda, which despite looking similar rode on a wheelbase two-inches shorter and shared no E-Body panels – only the windshield. The Dodge Charger had been around since 1966, but was aimed at a mid-size market, like the Plymouth Satellite/GTX/Roadrunner.
The new Challenger and ‘Cuda were both late and expensive to develop. Insurance constraints, corporate restrictions on horsepower/weight ratios and imminent federal emissions regulations were bad news for pony cars, so the Challenger’s day in the sun was a short one.
The Challenger was launched in two model lines and three body styles with a 110-inch wheelbase, and aimed at the Mercury Cougar and Pontiac Firebird. Despite hopes of 200,000 cars a year, 1970 was the best showing for the model, with 83,032 sold.
Challengers were divided into 53,337 hardtops (from $2,851), 6,544 Special Edition (SE) luxury hardtops ($3,083) and 3,173 convertibles ($3,120). There were 14,889 R/T hardtops (from $3266), 1,070 R/T convertibles ($3,535) and 3,979 SE R/T hardtops ($3,498). The SE featured a vinyl roof with a small Imperial-style back window, leather interior panels, and numerous luxury options. The third model was the T/A, based on the enormously popular Trans Am production race series. Dodge’s 340 cid V-8 was de-stroked to the 305 cubic-in limit, fitted with three two-barrel carburetors, four main bearings and offset valves. The aggressively striped T/A found 2,400 buyers ($4,096 and up).
The Challenger offered eight engines, from a slant six to the thundering 455 bhp 426 cid Hemi V-8. The engine/transmission combinations are recorded in detail. Optional engines included the 290 bhp 383 cid V-8, 350 bhp 383 cid Magnum, 350 bhp 440 cid Magnum, 375 bhp 440 cid Magnum, 390 bhp 440 Magnum Six Pack, and 425 bhp 426 cid Hemi V-8. The base gearbox was a 3-speed manual with a 4-speed manual option as well as a 3-speed automatic transmission.
The R/T included standard 383 cid V-8, Rallye instrument panel, Rallye suspension with sway bar, and heavy duty drum brakes. Convenience options included power steering, power brakes, air conditioning, and AM/FM radio. Stripes offered were longitudinal or rear bumble bee style. Available hood designs included smooth, dummy intakes, cold-air intake and shaker-style. Gearshifts included column, pistol grip 4-speeds and “slap-stick” console automatics.
Dodge offered 22 paint colors on the Challenger, of which 10 were creatively named “high impact” shades. Base colors and codes were Silver (A1), Light Blue (B3), Bright Blue (B5), Dark Blue (B7), Bright Red (E5), Light Green (F3), Dark Green (F8), Dark Burnt Orange (K5), Beige (L1), Dark Tan (T6), Light Gold (Y4), White (Y1), and Black (X9). High impact colors included SubLime (J5), Go Mango (K2), Hemi Orange (V2), Plum Crazy (C7), Top Banana (Y1), Bright Green (F6), Citron Yellow (Y3). Two colors were added later: Green Go (J6) and Panther Pink (M3). Interior colors were available in vinyl, leather and mixes of cloth. A split bench seat could be ordered only on the base.
Performance figures of course varied depending on the equipment selection and the magazine doing the testing, but they were impressive. The 340 Six Pack did 0-60 mph in seven seconds and a quarter-mile in 15.2 seconds. The R/T 440 Six Pack car managed 0-60 in 6.2 seconds and a 13.7 second-quarter mile at 105 mph, while the 426 Hemi reeled off 0-60 mph in 6.3 seconds and a quarter-mile in 13.1 seconds at 107.1 mph.