I know what you’re thinking: this again? Have we not been Challengered enough? Well, what can I do? We’ve covered these many a time on CC and this is the second 1970 Challenger I’ve caught in Tokyo, so clearly there is a fan base for these here. And I’m sure some of you enjoy the occasional Challenger, too. I know I do.
Is it a genuine R/T? Does it have the 440 or the Hemi? Has it been in Japan since birth? I have no idea. This post is not about that, it’s just an excuse to gawk at a car that seems like it was designed on a different planet. A close encounter of the Big Three kind, if you will.
The overwhelming majority of cars in Japan do not exceed 170cm (66.9’’) in width. Anything over that limit gets slapped with a “3 number” plate (the 330 numeral seen here) and subjected to heavier tax. Of course, there are other measures that can impose said tax, such as an overall length above 470cm (185’’) and an engine over 2000cc. There are some Japanese cars that are subject to the “3 number” plate rule, but they tend to be only slightly over that 170cm width, if at all. The Challenger, for its part, is a whopping 76.5’’ (194cm) wide.
It’s a bit longer than regulation size as well, but just by 16cm. And well beyond the 2-litre limit of course, though we’re not sure by how much exactly. The issue of width does make it a (wait for it) a challenging means of urban transport in a place like Tokyo. And parking this thing would not be the only issue.
This may not be too obvious on this Ginza area street, but there are a lot of places that will become impossible to reach by car if you drive a one as wide as this. Many streets are just too narrow. Not all cities in Japan are like Tokyo, though – central Sapporo, for instance, has a lot more elbow room to swing a classic Mopar about.
That’s not to say that you cannot drive around the Japanese capital in your Challenger. These pictures are proof positive that it can be done, just like some folks have tackled US interstates in a Subaru 360 or an Isetta. You can do it, but it’s not the most adapted tool for the task at hand.
There really isn’t much difference between owning a Dodge Challenger and a Lamborghini here. One may be easier to get into than the other, but as a means of urban transport, both are equally impractical.
Yet they do exist. And if they didn’t, Tokyo would be a far less interesting place. A wide car broadens horizons, even when the streets remain pretty narrow.
Curbside Classic: 1970 Dodge Challenger – Vanishing Paint, by David Saunders
Museum Classic: 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T SE – It’s Pink!, by Tom Klockau