By Steve Magnante
On Tuesday, June 24, 2014, the last 2014 Dodge Challenger rolled off the Brampton, Ontario, assembly line. Fittingly, the final example was a bright white R/T Plus 100th Anniversary Edition and oh yeah, it’s got a HEMI® engine, but it will also deliver the kind of fuel economy owners of 1970 Challenger R/Ts could only dream of! Special permanently affixed metal badges forever identify it as the final 2014 Challenger built as the Brampton facility is converted for output of the updated and improved 2015 Challenger lineup.
Most impressive, this final Challenger was the 280,783rd built at Brampton since Dodge re-entered the Detroit pony car wars in 2008 with the limited production (7,219 built) Challenger SRT8. The very first regular production 2008 Challenger SRT8 rolled off the Brampton line on Thursday, May 8, 2008, some 2,236 calendar days earlier. It was the answer to the dreams and requests of Dodge fans all over the world for a modern pony car contender to pick up where the 1970–1974 Challenger (E-Body) left off.
It all seemed too good to be true! But it was real. Only three colors were offered, Brilliant Black, Bright Silver and HEMI Orange, and all were equipped with the mighty 425 horsepower 6.1 liter HEMI engine backed by a five-speed automatic transmission. As such, enthusiasts clamored to get theirs before the program ended.
Happily, the successful 2008 Challenger SRT8 program blossomed into a regular production offering with Challengers built for a variety of budgets. For 2009 and beyond, the Challenger was available with a full range of popular colors, options and models ranging from the sporty and economical V-6 powered SE and SXT to the 5.7-liter HEMI-powered R/T. At the top of the line, the SRT8 held court with as much as 470 horsepower and an available six-speed Pistol Grip shifter (added in 2009).
Along the way, several limited production special edition Challengers fanned the flames and included the LC22R Drag Pack program where you could buy a semi-completed NHRA drag racer right from the Mopar parts counter at your local Dodge dealer! The 2010 Mopar ’10 Challenger R/T was another hit with metallic pearl black, special stripes, cold air induction and final assembly handled by the Mopar Upfit Center in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. From the basic 306 horsepower V-6 SXT coupe to the Viper-powered 2011 LC22R V-10 Drag Pak to the re-introduction of the legendary HEMI ‘Shaker’ (the rebirth of a muscle car icon with cold air induction), every Challenger delivered a fun driving experience.
So as we bid farewell to the last 2014 LC Challenger built, let’s reflect on the happy fact that Dodge’s heritage-inspired pony car has been a huge success. Consider this: total production of the original 1970–1974 Dodge Challenger (E-Body) was 165,437 cars. In the 2,237 calendar days since the Brampton, Ontario, plant has been building 2008–2014 LC-series Challengers, a total of 280,783 have been completed and shipped to Dodge dealers all over North America. In other words, for every “classic” 1970–1974 Challenger built, nearly two modern Challengers have been sold!
But while the original E-body Challenger survived only five model years (1970–1974), the modern edition has been available for seven seasons (2008–2014) and is still going strong. In fact, the 2015 Challenger is looking to be even more popular than ever. The incorporation of 1971-inspired exterior and interior styling themes has stayed true to its roots while evolving into a modern day muscle car. Add in the available Shaker hood, the R/T Scat Pack with potent 6.4-liter HEMI engine’s 485 horsepower or the SRT HEMI Hellcat with an earth shattering 707 horsepower, and the Challenger’s future looks brighter than ever! Here’s to another decade of challenging the Detroit pony car establishment — and winning. Long live the Dodge Challenger!