DubiCars Car Spotlight — Dodge Challenger: Three Generations Of Proper American Muscle

The formula to manufacture pony and muscle cars is pretty simple — a big engine, an optional manual gearbox, rear-wheel-drive, and muscular styling. Several cars have successfully implemented this formula over the last few decades. However, there are a few cars that become legendary and form a cult following. The Dodge Challenger is one of those cars.

Only three generations of the Dodge Challenger have been produced so far. It was discontinued twice and is all set to turn into an EV in the future. However, it will forever be etched in history as one of the greatest muscle cars of all time. In this edition of the DubiCars Car Spotlight, we’re taking a closer look at the history, models, generations, and special editions of the roaring and thunderous Dodge Challenger.

Dodge Challenger History — Models Over The Years

Origins Of The Dodge Challenger

The Challenger name first appeared on a special edition of the Dodge Coronet full-size sedan. The Dodge Coronet Silver Challenger was an addition to the Coronet lineup in 1959. The Coronet would remain in production until 1976, but the Challenger name would go on for a few more decades.

It is often said that the Challenger was a delayed response to the launch of the Ford Mustang. It was in 1964 that the Ford Mustang first went into production and Dodge wanted a car that could take the challenge to the new Pony car on the block. However, back then, Dodge didn’t have a car that could challenge the Mustang, and hence the Challenger was developed.

It was only five years after the Mustang went into production that the Dodge Challenger arrived and hundreds of thousands of units had already been sold. However, the Dodge Challenger was marketed as the most potent muscle car of the time with a variety of engine and transmission options available to buyers.

1st Gen | 1969 – 1974

The first-generation Dodge Challenger debuted in 1969 as a competitor to the likes of the Pontiac Firebird, Mercury Cougar, and Ford Mustang. It was based on the Chrysler E manufacturing platform which was also shared with the Plymouth Barracuda. It was designed by Carl Cameron, who is also known for designing the Dodge Charger.

A variety of engine options were available. The base versions were powered by either a 3.2-litre or 3.7-litre inline-6 engine. However, there was more choice for those who preferred a V8 motor — starting from a 5.2-litre and going all the way to a 7.2-litre unit. One could either choose a 3-speed manual, 4-speed manual, or a 3-speed automatic to go with these engines.

The performance version was called the Challenger R/T (Road & Track) and the base engine in this version was a 6.2-litre V8 while one could always opt for the larger 7.0-litre Hemi or 7.2-litre RB V8s. The Dodge Challenger received updates every year and there was even a racing homologation version called the Challenger T/A. However, the muscle car market was in a decline, and a sales slump forced the production of the Challenger to cease after a production run of 165,000 units.

2nd Gen | 1977 – 1983

The Arab-Israeli war of 1973 had resulted in a global oil crisis and manufacturers were forced to turn towards smaller and more efficient cars. This led to a boom in Japanese car sales as they already had small and efficient engines while American manufacturers with their big V8-engined cars struggled.

Dodge’s parent company Chrysler turned to Mitsubishi and sourced rights for the Mitsubishi Galant Lambda Coupe to be rebadged. In an attempt to capitalize on the popularity of the first-gen Challenger, Dodge decided to rebadge the Mitsubishi coupe as the Dodge Challenger. Quite obviously, it wasn’t as well-received.

The second-gen Dodge Challenger was assembled in Mitsubishi’s plant at Aichi, Japan, and powered by either 1.6-litre or 2.6-litre inline-4 engines. With the low-performance engines and lacklustre looks, the second-gen Challenger didn’t sell very well. Only around 80,000 units were sold over its six-year production run.

3rd Gen | 2008 – Present

Retaining the character of the first-gen Challenger while giving it modern styling, equipment, and engines is just what Dodge wanted to do with the third-gen Challenger. In the early 2000s, Dodge decided to revive the Challenger brand. In 2005, a fresh, bold, and aggressive new Challenger was displayed to the world. A couple of years later, it went into production and was an immediate sales success.

Over the next 15 years, several versions of the Dodge Challenger would be produced with the muscle car receiving updates every year. Dodge went all-out on making the Challenger its high-performance model and soon, the Challenger became the most powerful car produced by the American marque.

The third-generation Dodge Challenger can be had with either a V6 or a V8 engine and for the very first time, all-wheel-drive was available on some variants. It was initially available with a 3.5-litre V6 engine which was then replaced by a 3.6-litre Pentastar unit. The base V8 engine is a 5.7-litre unit while the most powerful one is a 6.4-litre supercharged unit.

Noteworthy features of the current-gen Dodge Challenger include:

  • 8.4-inch touchscreen
  • Apple CarPlay & Android Auto
  • High-Strength Steel Construction
  • ParkView Rear Camera
  • Blind-Spot Monitoring System
  • Traction Control
  • Electronic Stability Control
  • Hill Start Assist

Dodge Challenger Special Editions

  • Challenger 500
  • 100th Anniversary Edition
  • SRT Hellcat 
  • SRT Demon
  • SRT Hellcat Redeye
  • Scat Pack 1320 Package
  • Widebody Package
  • SRT Super Stock
  • SRT Demon 170

End Of Production In 2023

The Dodge Challenger and the Dodge Charger will both see the end of the production line in December 2023. Earlier this year, Dodge sent out a call for people to order the very last batch of Hemi-powered cars and with this, it is the end of an era. It is a known fact that the Dodge Charger will be replaced by the Dodge Charger Daytona SRT which is an electric muscle car. The car was also seen in the recent Fast & Furious movie.

However, there are no reports of the arrival of an electric Challenger replacement. That being said, there are possibilities of the Challenger’s revival with an electric version being launched in the coming years.

Popular Dodge Challenger Generations In The UAE

The third generation of the Dodge Challenger is the most popular in the UAE and thousands of examples can be found on UAE roads. Some of the most exclusive special editions of the Challenger are also found in the UAE. Check out new Dodge Challenger for sale in the UAE and used Dodge Challenger for sale in the UAE.

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