Dodge Challenger T/A 340 Six-Pack Hardtop Coupe 1970

Car producer : 

Dodge

Model:

Challenger T/A 340 Six-Pack Hardtop Coupe 1970

Year:

1970-1974

Type:

Coupe



The Challenger was described in a book about 1960s American cars as Dodge's "answer to the Mustang and Camaro." Introduced in fall 1969 for the 1970 model year, it was one of two Chrysler E-body cars, the other being the slightly smaller Plymouth Barracuda. "Both the Challenger and Barracuda were available in a staggering number of trim and option levels" and were intended "to compete against cars like the Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Mustang, and to do it while offering virtually every engine in Chrysler's inventory." However, the 1970 Challenger was "a rather late response to the ponycar wave the Ford Mustang had started" with its introduction in April 1964. In his book Hemi Muscle Cars, Robert Genat wrote that the Challenger was conceived in the late 1960s as Dodge's equivalent of the Plymouth Barracuda, and that the Barracuda was designed to compete against the Mustang. The 1964 Barracuda was actually the first car in this sporty car segment by a few weeks, but was quickly overshadowed by the release of the segment defining Mustang (the segment being referred to as "Pony Car"). He added that Chrysler intended the new 1970 Dodge as "the most potent ponycar ever," and positioned it "to compete against the Mercury Cougar and Pontiac Firebird." Genat also noted that the "Barracuda was intended to compete in the marketplace with the Mustang and Camaro/Firebird, while the Dodge was to be positioned against the Cougar" and other more luxury-type musclecars.

The Challenger's longer wheelbase, larger dimensions and more luxurious interior were prompted by the launch of the 1967 Mercury Cougar, likewise a bigger, more luxurious and more expensive pony car aimed at affluent young American buyers.[ The wheelbase, at 110 inches (2,794 mm), was two inches longer than the Barracuda, and the Dodge differed substantially from the Plymouth in its outer sheetmetal, much as the Cougar differed from the shorter-wheelbase Ford Mustang. Air conditioning and a rear window defogger were optional.

Exterior design was done by Carl Cameron, who also did the exterior for the 1966 Dodge Charger. Cameron based the 1970 Challenger grille off an older sketch of his 1966 Charger prototype that was to have a turbine engine. The Charger never got the turbine, but the Challenger featured that car's grille. Although the Challenger was well received by the public (with 76,935 produced for the 1970 model year), it was criticized by the press, and the pony car segment was already declining by the time the Challenger arrived. Sales fell dramatically after 1970, and though sales rose for the 1973 model year with over 27,800 cars being sold, Challenger production ceased midway through the 1974 model year. A total of 165,437 Challengers were sold over this generation's lifespan.

The Challenger was available as a two-door in either a hardtop coupe or a convertible body design, and in two models for its introductory year. The base model was the "Challenger" with either a I6 or V8 engine, as well as a "Challenger R/T" that included a 383 cu in (6.28 L) V8. The Special Edition or "Challenger SE" that added a number of appearance, convenience, and comfort items was "available as a model in either the Challenger R/T or Challenger." The standard engine on the base model was the 225 cu in (3.7 L) six-cylinder. The standard engine on the V8 was the 230 bhp (171.5 kW) 318 cu in (5.2 L) V8 with a 2-barrel carburetor. For 1970, the optional engines included the 340 and 383 cu in (5.6 and 6.3 L), as well as the 440 and 426 cu in (7.2 and 7.0 L) V8s, all with a standard 3-speed manual transmission, except for the 290 bhp (216.3 kW) 383 CID engine, which was available only with the TorqueFlite automatic transmission. A 4-speed manual was optional on all engines except the 225 CID I6 and the 2-barrel 383 CID V8

For 1971, the Challenger line up was modified to include a new model, the "Challenger Coupe" with either a I6 or V8 engine, and as the most basic version it had fixed in position quarter windows and a basic black steering wheel with horn button.

The performance model was the R/T (Road/Track), with a 383 cu in (6.28 L) "Magnum" V8, rated at 335 bhp (249.8 kW); 300 bhp (223.7 kW) for 1971, due to a drop in compression. The standard transmission was a 3-speed manual. Optional R/T engines were the 375 bhp (279.6 kW) 440 cu in (7.2 L) Magnum, the 390 bhp (290.8 kW) 440 CID Six-Pack and the 425 bhp (316.9 kW) 426 cu in (7.0 L) Hemi. The R/T was available in either the hardtop or convertible. For 1970 only, base hardtop and R/T hardtop models could be ordered with the more luxurious SE specification, which included leather seats, a vinyl roof, a smaller 'formal' rear window, and an overhead interior console that contained three warning lights (door ajar, low fuel, and seatbelts). The Challenger R/T came with a Rallye instrument cluster that included a 150 mph (240 km/h) speedometer, an 8,000 rpm tachometer, 1972–1974 tachometer went to 7,000 rpm and an oil pressure gauge.

In 1972, the R/T badging was dropped and these models were called "Rallye", although they were never badged as such. The Rallye model featured a faux brake vent on the fenders. The shaker hood scoop was not available after 1971.

A 1970-only model was the Dodge Challenger T/A (Trans Am) racing homologation car. In order to race in the Sports Car Club of America's Trans American Sedan Championship Trans Am, Dodge built a street version of its race car (just like Plymouth with its Plymouth 'Cuda AAR) which it called the Dodge Challenger T/A (Trans Am). Although the race cars ran a destroked version of the 340, street versions took the 340 and added a trio of two-barrel carburetors atop an aluminum intake manifold, creating the 340 Six Pack. Dodge rated the 340 Six Pack at 290 bhp (216.3 kW), only 15 bhp (11 kW) more than the original 340 engine (which also had the same rating as the Camaro Z/28 and Ford Boss 302 Mustang). The engine actually made about 320 bhp (238.6 kW). It breathed air through a suitcase-sized air scoop molded into the pinned down, hinged matte-black fiberglass hood. Low-restriction dual exhaust ran to the stock muffler location, then reversed direction to exit in chrome tipped "megaphone" outlets in front of the rear wheels. Options included a TorqueFlite automatic or pistol-grip Hurst-shifted four-speed transmission, 3.55:1 or 3.90:1 gears, as well as manual or power steering. Front disc brakes were standard. The special Rallye suspension used heavy duty parts and increased the rate of the rear springs. The T/A was one of the first U.S. muscle car to fit different size tires front and rear: E60x15 Goodyear Polyglas in the front, and G60x15 on the rear axle. The modified chamber elevated the tail enough to clear the rear tires and its side exhaust outlets. Thick dual side stripes, bold ID graphics, a fiberglass ducktail rear spoiler, and a fiberglass front spoiler were also included. The interior was identical to other Challengers.

Dodge contracted Ray Caldwell's Autodynamics in Marblehead, Massachusetts to run the factory Trans-Am team. Sam Posey drove the No.77 "sub-lime" painted car that Caldwell's team built from a car taken off a local dealer's showroom floor. When the No.76 was completed mid-season from a chassis provided by Dan Gurney's All American Racers, Posey alternated between the two. Both cars ran the final two races, with Posey in the #77. Ronnie Bucknum drove the No.76 at Seattle Washington, and Tony Adamowicz drove it at Riverside, California.

The Challenger T/A's scored a few top three finishes, but lack of a development budget and the short-lived Keith Black 303 c. i. engines led to Dodge leaving the series at season's end. The street version suffered from severe understeer in fast corners, largely due to the smaller front tires. Only 2,399 T/As were made. A 1971 model using the 340 engine with a 4-barrel carburetor was planned and appeared in advertising, but was not produced since Dodge had left the race series.

The "Western Special" was a version available only to west coast dealers. It came with a rear-exit exhaust system and Western Special identification on the rear decklid. Some examples came with a vacuum-operated trunk release. Another late production version was the low-priced "Deputy", stripped of some of the base car's trim and with fixed rear side glass.

For 1972 the options lists (both for performance and appearance/convenience items) had been drastically cut back. The convertible version (though a sun-roof was made available), most interior upgrade options (in particular leather seats), comfort/convenience items (in particular power windows and power seats), and all the big-block engine options were gone. The R/T series was replaced by the Rallye series. Engine choices were down to three: the 225 cu in slant-6, the 318 cu in V-8, and a performance oriented 340 cu in V-8 which was equipped with a 4-barrel carb, performance camshaft, heads and dual exhausts. All three were detuned to lower compression ratios in order to run on lead-free gasoline, and the horsepower ratings were lowered to reflect the more accurate Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) net hp calculations. Each engine could be mated to a 3-speed manual or automatic transmission, while the 340 could also be equipped with a 4-speed manual if so ordered. The performance axle ratios were also gone except for a 3.55 sure grip which could only be had with the 340 and the heavy duty suspension. The 1972 models also received a new grille that extended beneath the front bumper, as well as new rear tail-lights. Toward the end of the 1971 model year a few convertibles were made with the 1972 front end (grille, lights, etc.) and rear end (tail lights and their panel). These were specially built for TV and movie studio production use and showed up "Mod Squad", and other shows. The only way to ascertain these 1972 Challenger convertible is to look at its fender tag. On the code line which gives the dealer order number, that number will start with an "R", which designates "Special Meaning" (in this case, a TV 'special promotions' car). A cigarette lighter was standard.

The 1972 grille and tail-light arrangement was carried over for the 1973 (and 1974) models, and the mandatory 5 mph bumpers were added. While the 225 cu in six-cylinder engine was dropped, (leaving just the two V-8s), all option lists otherwise were carry-overs from 1972. For 1974, the 340 cu in (5.6 L) engine was replaced by a 360 cu in (5.9 L) version offering 245 hp (183 kW; 248 PS), but the pony car market had fallen off and production of Challengers ceased in late April 1974. The A/C was not available with the 3-speed manual.

Although the body style remained the same throughout the Challenger's five-year run, there were two notable changes to the front grille. The 1971 models had a "split" grille, while 1972 introduced a design that extended the grille (nicknamed the "sad-mouth") beneath the front bumper. With this change to the front end, 1972 through 1974 models had little to no variation. The only way to properly distinguish them is that the 1972s had flush mounted bumpers with no bumper guards, (small bumper guards were optional), while both the 1973 and 1974 models had the protruding "5 mph (8.0 km/h)" bumpers (with a rubber type filler behind them) in conjunction with large bumper guards. The 1974 cars had larger rear bumper guards to meet the (new for 1974 and on) rear 5 mph rear impact law. These changes were made to meet U.S. regulations regarding crash test safety.

The 1970 taillights went all the way across the back of the car, with the backup light in the middle. In 1971, the backup lights were on the left and right instead of the middle. The taillight array also changed for 1972 onwards, with the Challenger now having four individual rectangular lamps.

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