Dodge Challenger Through the Years: 1978 to 1984

 

Discontinued in 1974, the Challenger name returned to the Dodge lineup for 1978 in a completely new form—as a compact import coupe manufactured by Mitsubishi in Japan.  With slight variations in trim and options, the same package was branded by Mitsubishi as the Galant Lambda, by Plymouth as the Sapporo, and by Chrysler Australia as the popular Sigma.

 

With no V8 available, this Challenger was marketed not as a muscle car but as a compact personal luxury vehicle.  Two four-cylinder engines, a 1.6L and a 2.6L with Silent Shaft balancer, were offered, with a choice of five-speed manual or three-speed automatic transmission.

 

The emphasis was on luxury and convenience features, including a premium stereo, trip computer, memory seats, and an overhead console with digital clock. Other eye-catching features included two-tone paint and bold interior fabrics.

 

Dodge was not shy about promoting the Challenger’s Japanese origins; advertising taglines included “Dodge by Mitsubishi” and “from Japan to Dodge.”  In 1983, Dodge found itself with multiple sport compacts in its lineup, including the Charger, Daytona, and Conquest, so despite steady sales, the Challenger was discontinued. The name would not appear again until 2006 with an historic unveiling at the North American International Auto Show.

 


  • SUBLIME

    These were the dark years for Chrysler.  Using the Challenger name on a Japanese import.  Then came the K cars.  Oh my, can we erase this part of Chrysler’s history?

  • HEMIhead

    K cars were a hit, when everybody was feeling the gas crunch, and wanted front wheel drives. Does anybody remember all the other garbage
    on the road at that time from brand x’s? They served their purpose well. Believe it or not, we are heading for this exact same era once again,
    give it a couple years. We were actually “green” in the 80′s. With the future EPA/CAFE ratings, V8′s are doomed! IF you have one, hold on to it.
    People cry foul today over the 4 door, V8, RWD charger, but I never heard one complaint about a two door, fwd, 4 cyl Challenger or charger of that era.
    Go figure? And imports to boot!

  • SUBLIME

    HEMIhead,  I am all for better gas mileage, however, those cars in the 80s were all boxy and crappy looking.  I know, I owned a few.  In fact, I had a two door 1990 Dodge Daytona, but it still didn’t look that good.  The 8 speed trans is getting better gas mileage for the V8s and V6s so maybe we still have some time.  At any rate, you can still make a small car look good…just scale down the proportions.

    • HEMIhead

      I have the newer 6 speed trans now, and it’s worse than my older 4 speed. The 6 speed changes like the old ford escorts from the 80′s. Always have to be kicking it down to get moving!

      • SUBLIME

        HEMIhead, you need to get one of those Diablo sport tuners for your car.  My Challenger ran like crap until I got one.  It had gone through all the gears before it even reached 30 mph.  I only have it set for the better regular unleaded setting, however, it makes a big difference.

        • HEMIhead

          I’ve had that for about 3 years now, first thing I got when I got the car, and the Tranzformer shift kit, So I can set my shift points where ever I want, and how hard it shifts, built in line loc, etc. I am talking about the 2011 Grand Caravan. Always have to be kicking it down to get it going. Annoying as hell. For the 1 or 2 mpg it saves you, I’d rather have the 2001 4 speed.