The Challenger’s Arrival on the Muscle Car Scene

In 1970, Dodge made a bold move by introducing the Challenger into the fiercely competitive muscle car arena, already dominated by its own creation, the Charger. Despite initial skepticism, the Challenger, especially in its ‘426 HEMI’ variant, emerged as an icon in the automotive world.

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Unveiled in the fall of 1969 for the 1970 model year, the Challenger, alongside its E-sized counterpart, the Barracuda, quickly gained popularity. The Challenger’s debut marked a significant sales success, with nearly 77,000 units sold, over 18,000 of which boasted the high-performance R/T (Road/Track) designation.

While the Charger already offered a comprehensive hot-rod package, the Challenger distinguished itself by offering an additional engine option. The entry-level R/T model featured a 383 cubic-inch V8, capturing the majority of sales. Meanwhile, the top-tier options included two 440 Magnums and the legendary 426 HEMI, with the 383 motor leading the sales chart.

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The Rarity of the HEMI-powered Challenger

At the top end of the performance spectrum was the 426 HEMI, a 7.0-liter powerhouse with 425 horsepower and 490 lb-ft of torque. Among the 356 HEMI Challengers produced in the inaugural year, most were hardtops, with a limited number featuring Special Edition and convertible configurations.

Of the 287 R/T Challengers, 150 featured automatic transmissions, while 137 were equipped with manual transmissions. These rare gems, especially those painted in attention-grabbing colors like Plum Crazy, stand out today as coveted classics.

Illustrating this rarity is a first-issue Challenger with a four-speed transmission, boasting over 69,000 miles. While its past is a mystery, its originality is verified by documentation. Despite a repaint 30 years ago, the engine, transmission, and rear end remain matching numbers.

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The Unique Features of a HEMI-powered Survivor

Equipped with a pistol grip shifter and various factory-installed options, this Challenger stands out. However, it deviates from the factory setup with the addition of a new old stock shaker hood scoop and a T/A spoiler on the trunk lid, an unusual feature for R/T models.

Despite these modifications, the HEMI-powered Challenger speaks for itself with a formidable 431 horsepower and 664 Nm of torque. This high-performance classic is currently attracting bids, with a current bid of $150,000 and four days remaining in the auction.

# FAQs

## Q1: What distinguished the Challenger from other muscle cars in 1970?

The Challenger stood out by offering an additional engine option, including the legendary 426 HEMI, and achieved significant sales success, particularly with the R/T designation.

## Q2: How rare are the HEMI-powered Challengers from the inaugural year?

Of the 356 HEMI Challengers produced, the majority were hardtops, with a limited number featuring Special Edition and convertible configurations, making them highly sought after by collectors.

## Q3: What makes the featured Challenger unique?

The showcased Challenger is a rare first-issue model with a four-speed transmission and over 69,000 miles. Despite a repaint, its originality is supported by matching numbers for the engine, transmission, and rear end.

## Q4: Are the modifications to the Challenger significant?

While the Challenger deviates from the factory setup with added features like a shaker hood scoop and a T/A spoiler, its true power lies in the formidable 431 horsepower generated by the iconic 426 HEMI engine.

 

 

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