Automotive History Oddity: 1971 Dodge Challenger “Coupe” With 198 Cubic Inch Slant Six

Dodge Challenger 1971 coupe

When we think of 1971 Challengers, it tends to be the wild ones with 440 Six Packs or Hemis. Of course there was a base Challenger hardtop coupe during its challenged five-year run, with the 225 CID slant six as standard. But for 1971 only, there was an even more austere version: a fixed-rear window coupe, that came with the little 198 CID slant six, rated at 105 (net) hp. That made it by far the most underpowered pony car of the era, especially since these E-Bodies weren’t exactly feather-weight. Good luck finding one of those now; any that ever existed and survived undoubtedly has had a big V8 stuffed into it.

Dodge Challlenger 1971 brochure

Here’s the full line-up from 1971.

dodge Challenger 1971 engines

This is interesting, as Dodge chose to publish both gross and net horsepower ratings for their 1971 engines. Look at the 340 and the two-barrel 383: both are rated at 275 gross hp, but the 340 has 235 net hp, while the 383 has only 190.

Slant Six 198 duster

By the way, if the 198 slant six is not familiar to you, like the more common 170 and 225 inch versions, that’s because it was only built from 1970-1975. It’s essentially a de-stroked 225, using the raised block of the 225 (the 170 had a one inch shorter block). Bore is the same 3.40″ on all of the slant sixes; the 170 had a 3.13″ stroke; the 198 a 3.64″ stroke; and the 225 a 4.13″ stroke.

 

Dodge Challenger 1971 engines

Presumably, the 170 was too small for the heavier cars and reduced output of de-smogged engines, and allowed them to cast just one block. But within a few years, the 198 was too small to bother with either, and the 225 soldiered on until 1983, in the US.

dodge challenger 1971 ad_71

Why Dodge bothered to install the 198 in the Challenger, which of course cost exactly the same to make as the 225, is a good question. The coupe with its fixed rear window did allow Dodge to offer a Challenger for a slightly lower price, $2727, in 1971, compared to the base 1970 Challenger’s $2851 price tag. But it obviously didn’t sell in any meaningful quantities, and disappeared for 1972.