Dodge didn’t have a proper challenger to the Mustang until 1970, which was strange considering every other brand on the lower echelons of the market including AMC offered one. For sure Dodge could be given a pass because it had a specialty car called the Charger. Once the Barracuda moved to the new E-body platform, Dodge saw an opportunity to create its own distinct model. Is it any wonder it was called the Challenger? One of those, a 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T hardtop, is our Pick of the Day. It is listed for sale on ClassicCars.com by a private seller in Oklahoma City. (Click the link to view the listing)
While Plymouth had the Barracuda from mid-year 1964 through 1969, Dodge offered the sporty Dart GT. Though not a pony car in the purest (or even purist’s) sense, its underpinnings were the same as the Barracuda’s. With the advent of the Dart GTS in 1967, Dodge had a serious compact performance car, culminating in the 440-powered GTS for 1969.
Dodge continued to offer compact performance with the 1970 Dart Swinger 340, but now Dodge had a pony car to compete with the Mustang. In fact, Dodge had its eye on the Mercury Cougar, Ford’s upscale pony car, so the Challenger followed suit with a wheelbase two inches longer than the Barracuda’s (110 versus 108 inches). And like the Cougar offering a base version the luxurious XR-7, Dodge offered the Challenger and Challenger SE. Similar to the XR-7, the SE offered leather seating surfaces, an overhead consolette, and fancier trim.
However, while Mercury kept the Cougar V8-only, the Challenger was available with everything from the “Slant Six” to the 426 Hemi and 440. Plus, Dodge produced a dedicated performance model called R/T and a combination R/T SE to give performance fans luxury if they so desired. All told, there was the base Challenger hardtop and convertible, SE hardtop, Challenger R/T hardtop and convertible, and Challenger R/T SE hardtop. Midyear, a decontented Deputy coupe and Trans-Am-inspired Challenger T/A joined the series. This lineup contrasted with the Barracuda’s and helped make the Challenger distinct.
That distinction may have helped the Challenger sell better than the Barracuda, which was interesting as the Mustang (and Camaro, for that matter) was never outsold by its more sophisticated brethren.
This 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T exemplifies everything that made the new pony car attractive with the car-buying public. Though offered with a standard 383 Magnum, this one has the legendary 440 Six Pack, one of 1,640 U.S.-spec hardtops built with the “V-code” engine. That engine is topped by the rare Shaker hood scoop, which commands a fine premium these days. Other fine ingredients include Torqueflite automatic with console, Performance Axle Package with 3.55 gears, “FJ5” Sublime paint complemented by a white vinyl top and white longitudinal side stripes, 15-inch Rallye wheels, quick-fill gas cap, and luggage rack, among many other options.
Features for this Challenger R/T include “documentation [including] copies of prior ownership titles, mileage statement documents, copies of the original dealership invoice, transaction invoice from the original dealership, and a copy of Mopar Muscle and Mopar Collector’s Guide magazines, where she had feature articles on her.” This certainly is an esteemed piece of Mopar muscle history, which is why it will cost you $225,000 OBO to put it in your garage.