Dodge Challenger Through the Years: 1970 to 1974


Dodge was the final entrant in the Detroit pony car wars in 1970, but the Challenger was worth the wait. Pundits declared the Challenger’s clean, elegant styling the best of the breed, and they raved about the wide variety of available powerplants, from Slant Six to 426 Hemi.


Like all pony cars, the Challenger was based on modified compact/intermediate architecture, which in Dodge’s case it also shared with its pony car sibling at Chrysler, the Plymouth Barracuda. Dodge designer Carl Cameron styled the taut sheetmetal with a high, muscular character line that kicked up over the rear wheel, then adapted a grille he’d originally designed for a turbine-powered concept car.


The Challenger’s internal structure was devised from the start to accommodate Dodge’s widest and most powerful engines, including the 383 and 440 Magnums, the 440 Six Pack, and even the mighty 426 Street Hemi. Today the Hemi-powered Challengers are among the most coveted cars of the Detroit muscle era, with selected examples selling at auction in the million-dollar range.


The first-generation Challenger was offered through the 1974 model year, receiving mild annual facelifts. Sales started on a promising note with 75, 000 units for 1970, then gradually declined as gasoline and insurance costs rose and the Challenger’s baby-boomer audience sought more family-friendly transportation. The long-hood, short-deck pony car formula had run its course for now. Dodge would return in 1978 with a new and totally different car bearing the Challenger name.




  • Tom Jasiewicz
    Posted September 6, 2012 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    My earliest memory of the 1970 Challenger was from a vacation we took through Cisco Utah in July of 1970. We came upon the filming of Vanishing Point where Kowalski ran into the bulldozers and blew up (luckily they really used a 1967 Chevy Camaro instead of wasting a real car.) I still have the original 6 slides showing the Challenger with all of its camera rigging, Kowalski (Barry Newman), the bulldozers and other vehicles from the movie.
    I also remember seeing the last Challenger off of the assembly line, a red 1974. It was at the now defunct Wheels and Spokes museum and body shop in Hayes Kansas. Has anyone else ever been there?

  • Harl (Sonny) Tice
    Posted September 6, 2012 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

    i have a1970 it was a wonderfull car un fotunatlly it sets in the garage it has a 318 but im trying to build a 360 van block keith black hypertectic 10 10 grind 30 over my cam purple shaft  509 lift? not sure athe moment weind 4barrel intake aluminum intake water pump  and radiator do not have heads carb and miscparts ran out of money i LOVE this car can you help i turn 50 in two weeks and would love to drive this car again before demize help me please i love this car!!!!!????????????????????

    Posted September 10, 2012 at 12:45 am | Permalink

    There is something about the thin chrome trim on a car that makes it look like it is made out of metal.  I think that is why trucks sell so well.  People want a vehicle that looks like it is made of metal and not plastic like you see on all the new cars.

  • Mike Jasiewicz
    Posted November 15, 2016 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    The photos that Tom Jasiewicz mentioned in his post were actually taken by Walter Jasiewicz. Tom is my brother. Walter was our father. At the time, my age was 14 and Tom’s was 11. I just wanted to make sure that my father gets credit where the credit is really due.

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