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.



    Posted September 13, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    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
    Posted September 14, 2012 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    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!

    Posted September 14, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    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
      Posted September 18, 2012 at 9:30 am | Permalink

      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
        Posted September 19, 2012 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

        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
          Posted September 20, 2012 at 7:54 am | Permalink

          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.

  • V8 power
    Posted May 5, 2014 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

    V8 power forever

  • Steve Christensen
    Posted September 7, 2014 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

    it’s too bad these cars get little respect. I have owned 9 Challengers and 2 of these being the second generation. I currently have a 1982 Challenger with 230K on the clock, all original. In 1981 I drove from Fife Wa to San Fransisco Ca and averaged 69 mph. Not bad, no tickets, and the national speed limit was 55 mph.

    Here is my latest.

    You can see al the clones, tributes, and 3rd gens out there, but how many of these second generations are out there.

  • al
    Posted January 13, 2015 at 9:31 am | Permalink


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