(first posted 12/17/2014) I am a big Mopar fan. While I am primarily a Ford Guy, that doesn’t mean I engage in silly Ford vs. Chevy vs. Dodge stuff. Simply put, both my maternal and paternal grandparents drove Fords and Lincolns, so that’s what I gravitated to (and the Volvos my parents drove, but I’m off-course already on the subject matter at hand!). But my brother had a serious Mopar jones in his middle school days, and I got sucked into his love for Mopar Muscle.
It seems to have started with Andy’s love for the TV show Nash Bridges–or rather, his yellow 1971 ‘cuda convertible! He loved those cars, and in short order announced he wanted a ‘cuda for his first car. Sometimes, such childhood dreams come to naught, but in fact, my brother’s first car was a genuine 1973 Plymouth ‘cuda 340 hardtop.
It was also a money pit, and my mother dubbed it the “Bondocuda.” But my brother loved that car, and drove it from 1999-2001 as his only car. It was finally replaced with an Amber Fire 2001 Dakota Sport 4×4 in August of ’01, and was a much better year-round vehicle for him. But better to have loved and lost, and all that.
By ’73 the ‘cuda’s performance was not exactly the tire-burning muscle car it was in 1970, but they were still very sharp cars. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Today, we talk about the Plymouth’s Dodge Division sibling, the Challenger. The Cougar to the Plymouth’s Mustang, if you like.
This may be hard to believe, but in the late ’90s Mopars were undervalued compared to Dearborn and Mr. Goodwrench products. Hard to believe, as the 1970 Challenger was such a sharp car! I am seriously digging that Ivy Green convertible with white interior!
The Challenger was Dodge’s first pony car, having made due with the intermediate Charger from 1966-69 while Plymouth got all the Ma Mopar pony car love with its Barracuda. But unlike the 1970 Barracuda, the Challenger was meant to be more in the Mercury Cougar vein, with a longer wheelbase and luxurious models like the Special Edition, with its limousine-style rear window, overhead console and plusher upholstery. A mini-Monaco, if you will.
But of course, it was the last salad days of the muscle car era, and so many hot versions were on offer too. A Slant Six was the standard engine on a base Challenger, but all manner of V8 Mopar goodness was available to those with the cash and the desire for door-sucking power!
You could start out with a “cooking” 318 or 340 CID V8, and those were perhaps best for a blend of handling as well as power (as the Challenger T/A was, with its 340 mill, front and rear spoilers and “trumpet” side-exiting exhaust), but for the drag strip or out-and-out straight line performance, there were the big blocks!
How much power? How much money you got? Depending on your needs and cash flow, you could get a 383, 440, 440 Six Pack or even the mighty (and pricey) 426 CID Hemi V8. Fuel economy, you say? Bah! Go buy a Ford Maverick!
Yes, the Challenger was the more uptown E-body. My brother and I always had friendly arguments about which E was best. I liked the Challenger better, with its four-eyed nose, fancier door panels and seats (I gave big points to the chrome and woodgrain insert in the doorpanels), longer wheelbase, and wide taillights. Andy always defended the Barracuda’s more purposeful lines, hockey stick rear quarters and more blunt looks. We never changed each other’s mind, by the way!
I especially loved those taillights. So smooth and sleek, with chrome “DODGE” letters inset into the central back-up light. A touch of class, compared to the Barracuda’s more common square units.
I think the extra wheelbase made the Challenger sleeker from the side too. It is not immediately apparent from a casual glance, but I think the stretch is between the far end of the door and the rear wheel well.
As you would expect, the Challenger R/T was a member in good standing of Dodge’s Scat Pack. Standard features of the R/T included a 383 CID V8 engine with four-barrel carburetor, Rallye instrument panel with electric clock and tachometer, Rallye suspension with a sway bar, heavy-duty drum brakes (front discs were optional), F70 x 14 raised white letter tires, R/T emblems, and your choice of full-length stripe (as seen here) or a “bumblebee” stripe circling around the trunk lid and rear quarters.
Ah, but for those wanting a little Brougham in their street rod, creative folks could combine both the R/T and plush Special Edition packages, making a very nice boulevard cruiser, while at the same time sucking the doors off of unsuspecting 350 Camaros or 302 Mustangs. Yes, you could have your Brougham and street it too!
So how did I find this most excellent example to share with all you CCers? Well, believe it or not, this car belongs to my boss, Kathy Mosley. It is only one of many collectible Mopars she and her husband Greg own. Some are Kathy’s, and some are Greg’s, and some are “theirs.” But, the Panther Pink Challenger is most definitely Kathy’s! Don’t feel bad for Greg though, as he has a Limelight ’70 Challenger R/T with no vinyl roof and the rare Chartreuse bumblebee stripe!
But this car was the first one that really stopped me in my tracks. Perhaps because it was unexpected. I was at the office, and walked downstairs to reimburse our driver for his weekly expenses, when I saw this car for the first time. Wow! I’m not one to actually own a pink car, but the combination of this one, with the black vinyl top, and black stripes, with the white interior really looked good to me. And what’s that emblem on the C-pillar? Whoa, an SE too!
As you can see, with the overhead console, badging and the limousine-style backlight.
These colors just look right on a muscle car, in my opinion. A 1970 Cadillac or 1970 Plymouth Fury III would just look silly in this hue, but on a 440-powered Challenger, it looks good–very good.
Kathy purchased this car about ten years ago off of the electronic bay. Apparently the seller was a bit of an odd duck, and the car was indeed an original Special Edition (one of 6,584), it may have had the R/T equipment added at a later date. Kathy didn’t really care at the time, she just loved the colors, and the car was in mostly good shape, and they got it for a fair price.
It is not the most perfect example in their Mopar collection, but Kathy likes it because it’s a good driver, it’s got that 440 power, and, best of all, it’s pink! But her dream E-body would be a 1970 Hemi ‘cuda in pink, and while they have some rare cars (like the original Hawaiian drag car, for one), the pink ‘cuda would still be a challenge to acquire, as I believe only two pink Hemi ‘cudas were made that year. Still, this is still a pretty spiffy ride for nice days!
While the Challenger and Barracuda were well styled and clearly had as much power available as your taste (or wallet) could stand, it debuted right on the cusp of the end of the muscle car era. It did not help that Chrysler was going through one of its periodic crises at the time. So, both Challenger and Barracuda production was much less than the Highland Park execs had hoped for.
Oh sure, the sales weren’t totally terrible, but Mopar had invested a healthy sum in these E-bodies, and well, it just didn’t really pay off. Only 1970 and 1971 did production fare reasonably well, and with the death or the Hemi and high-compression V8s in 1972, Chrysler had a great looking car that was effectively de-fanged. Gone were the R/T, the Hemi, the 440. All that was left with a sporting intent was the 1972 Rallye–with a small block.
Not that the 1972 Challenger Rallye was a bad car, and certainly a good handler with the big-blocks removed from the front suspension, but it just wasn’t the same. Most of the fun, High Impact colors were gone too. An era was ending, and the kids who bought these in 1968-71 were now starting to get married and looking at Buick Regals and Olds Cutlass Supremes instead.
By 1973 the Challenger was a shadow of its former self. Only four years old, but the Great Brougham Epoch was in full swing by this time and a whole bunch of people were more interested in a cosseting ride, opera windows, coach lamps and velour instead of smooth power and clean good looks. And in that environment, the Challenger continued to sink, as its lesser siblings, the Dart and Duster and Valiant, sold like free beer at a ball game. Impending bumper and emissions regulations, combined with steadily sinking sales finally called the game, in 1974.
But people remembered those tire smoking, brightly hued Mopars of the late ’60s and early ’70s, and the good old Challenger made a dramatic comeback in 2008 with the limited-production SRT-8. In 2009, an SE, R/T and R/T Classic joined the lineup, and today, the 2015 Challenger Hellcat is an amazing piece of 700-bhp machinery. Long live the Challenger!
My first car back in 1975 was a 1970 Challenger. It was a base model, dark green with a white vinyl top, and black interior. It had a 318/automatic with a column shifter, a bench front seat with split backs and a fold down armrests. The dash was already cracked. It had a set of stock size Fenton “mag” wheels (the actual magnesium color 5 spokes) with whitewall radials. As soon as I could afford to, I replaced those wretched tires with a set of RWL Goodyear Polyglass GTs I drove that car for about 7 years, it had just shy of 100,000 on it when all the teeth sheared off the cam sprocket, and the pistons and valves had a war with each other. I sold the car as is. So many times I wished I had replaced the engine in it and kept it.
Just what any ‘muscle car’ needs…a luggage rack! Pfft, Mustang II anyone!!!
Given the embarrassing size of the typical pony car trunk, it wasn’t an inherently silly idea, although a lot of times I think add-on luggage racks were more an excuse to tack another bit of chrome onto the car than a practical virtue.
I have mixed feelings on that rack. On an SE which is a classier version of the car, and reaches for the ‘sportscar’ side of these cars’ nature, it starts making a bit of sense. It would definitely make the car a more practical driver when it has to do yeoman duty in a pinch. And its a nod to the racks you would see on British sportscars. So with a vinyl roof and in a metallic gold color with less racy wheels I can see it for what it is.
With this car kind of having a split personality (SE and R/T thrown in a blender) it seems contrived. On a no bones about it performance version, then that rack would look stupid as hell.
That’s my point, why make a car be a Swiss army knife trying to appeal to all comers in one model. Want to appeal to gear heads, put a hemi in it; want to appeal to the bargain hunter, put a slant six in it; want to appeal to the brougham heads, stick a luggage rack on it. Isn’t that why car makers carry more than one model?
I wouldn’t kick it out of my garage for sporting a “rack”.
Long time pink Mopar fan here.Thanks Tom,I love this car!
I knew you were in the second I saw this pic!
Today Gem owns the internet.
Got in before me.
The colour is about all I dont like, nice car. the luggage rack can go too.
Like you, a Ford guy who appreciates Mopars. However….as a previous poster “said” no luggage rack for me. I preferred the Barracuda over the Challenger. Friends of my “little” sister had an ivy green with black vinyl roof ‘Cuda powered by a 383.
In the early 70s a co-worker had a pink 68 Javelin. Nothing special, it had a 290 and automatic transmission. He got a lot of kidding for that car but took it all in stride.
I love the high impact Mopar colors. There’s a whole site dedicated to them at pantherpink.com. A-bodies, B-bodies, E-bodies and one known C-body. I tend to like them best with white vinyl rather than black or all body colour.
I remember reading that the dealer order book didn’t exactly display the color authentically, looking more red than pink, and when they showed up, customers refused to take delivery.
I will never forget the Sunday newspaper the fall of ’69 with a large color insert introducing the ’70 Challenger. There was one picture of a side view with slices of all the color choices, must have been 2 dozen colors at least. The impact colors were just so well done, and of course as a 12 year old i was immediately drawn to the Plum Crazy purple. I never recall seeing a panther pink car, i would say it looks good today. I read a story of a Hemi Challenger in panther pink where the dealer refused to order it in that color, the buyer had to find another dealer to do it. I’m a big fan of all the pyschedelic colors of the era
Looks like 30 colors were available in 1970
That chart points out an interesting anomaly in the way one of the high-impact colors was named. ‘Hemi Orange’ really isn’t orange, at all, as evidenced how the Plymouth version of the same color was called ‘Tor-red’.
‘Go Mango’ is the actual orange color for Dodge (for Plymouth cars, it was ‘Vitamin C’), and many mistakely think it’s ‘Hemi Orange’.
That chart isn’t laid out the best. The whole color palate seems to reference all of Dodge’s car line at the time. Im not a betting man, but my money is on you NOT being able to buy say, a Challenger and a Polara sedan in matching Sublime….
Some great colors on there, for sure. Cant say Im super impressed with some of the blues (my favorite color) though. The darker ones aren’t ‘bad’ but I tend to like the electric or cobalt blues. Intense shades that are on the dark side of the mediums.
2210 – “Plum Crazy” was unofficially known to 1970s Mopar fans as “Statutory Grape.”
Apparently the guys in the studio came up with a few other names that got knocked back too, according to Jeff Godshall (IIRC) in a Collectible Automobile article. One that’s stuck in my mind was Fisher Body Rust.
That sounds a lot like a photo in the ’70 Plymouth “rapid transit system” brochure:
As good looking as these are, I never warmed to them. During my frequent car shopping days of the late 70s, these were cheap and available, as were all Molars. Had one plunked itself into my path, I might have bought one. But the molded plastic interiors and the awful sound from slamming the doors dissuaded me from seeking one out. Hindsight has proved me stupid.
The idea of ‘if only I’d known back then’ depends entirely on someone’s perspective. Most consider the monetary aspect and it just doesn’t pan out. The cars that are worth millions today were also quite expensive when new, and in order for one to be worth millions today, it would have had to have put into climate-controlled storage for a long, long time. None of that would have been cheap, not to mention quite a gamble.
I’m no accountant, but I think if the same money were invested in even a modest stock, I ‘think’ the return would have been substantially greater (and a whole lot more secure).
OTOH, no price can be put on personal satisfaction of the long-term ownership of one of these cars.
Great article , Tom! As the proud owner of a ’73 340 ‘Challenger that I rescued from a junkyard and brought back to life, AND a ’74 Challenger w/ only 69k actual miles on the odo, I share your love for these!! 🙂
Oh I remember the days that the Mopar community was small but rabid–My brother in law owns a E body and 2 B bodys-(one a Superbird) and I’ve driven them many times but I still think my 71 Cutlass S is a superior made car. The Mopars have exposed heater boxes, painted top of doors, flat cardboard door panels and the doors on the E body are a joke. But you got to admit the cars were outrageous and I never tire of looking at them.
I wonder, what was the take rate on a vinyl-roof, wire-wheeled pseudo-Brougham SE model vs. the muscle car everyone apparently had?
This color may seem a bit strange in our current world of white/silver/black cars, but back in the day when monsters ruled the streets, nobody laughed when you rolled up in a neon-colored MOPAR. These colors were a warning – like poisonous snakes use- to let you know that this was a FAST car.
The wild animal analogy is a great way to look at it and I’m surprised Chrysler’s marketing didn’t work it into their advertising. OTOH, who wants to get beaten in a drag race by a pink car?
Those high-impact colors didn’t sell all that well, particularly Sublime and Panther Pink (or its other name, Furious Fuscia). In fact, as others have pointed out, the pink color was so disliked and sold so poorly, I think it only lasted one year (and then only half the year, at that), making those 1970 pink Mopars some of the rarest, colorwise.
Wasn’t there a CC on the high-impact colors and their accompanying wild names? If not, it would be a good one. Nothing says ‘1970’ like a high-impact colored musclecar.
Correction: I’m not sure ‘Furious Fuscia’ was the other name for Panther Pink. It might have been Moulin Rouge.
Plymouth did indeed call that hue Molin Rouge. It, along with Panther Pink, was a spring-special color for 1970, and special order only for 1971.
I wonder how many Panther Pink E-bodies had the slant six?
I’m so clueless on these cars, did not know the Challenger had a longer wheelbase than the Barracuda. I think the rubber bumper pads for 73/74 actually made both cars more attractive. One of the first road tests I ever read was in Popular Science. They tested a Dodge Dart 340 and really liked it. Those high end Darts seemed too close to the Challenger. You never saw many 302 Mavericks. You did see 350 Novas but the Camaro was so gorgeous I could see how both could co-exist comfortably.
The 340 A-body (particularly the Duster) just killed Chrysler’s E-body. You got a slightly smaller car that was faster, for hundreds less. There were more than a few Chrysler executives that really hated this, particularly the ones that had championed the E-body’s development. They’d spent a boatload of Chrysler R&D money on the E-body, only to see it get trounced in the marketplace by their own car, and one with a much lower profit margin! Combined with other stuff like really poor body engineering, ergonomics, and increased insurance rates, the poor E-body never really had a chance. Taken as a whole, the 1970 A/E-body debacle could easily be rated a Chrysler ‘Deadly Sin’.
And, ironically, that very rarity now makes the E-body one of the most valuable and sought after collectible domestic cars of ‘any’ make.
The most unpleasant bit of irony as far as Chrysler was concerned is that the reason they spent so much on the E-bodies is that they had been trying to sell an A-body pony car for the previous six years and nobody had been terribly interested. (I quite like the second-generation Barracuda, but it was definitely an also-ran commercially.)
I think where Chrysler might have gotten stung was that the ’68-’69 compact A-body musclecars (Dart Swinger 340, GTS, and Barracuda equivalents) were all still kind of pricey. Even the 1970 Swinger 340 (which supplanted the discontinued GTS) was priced kind of high (but it did come with a 4-speed and disc brakes).
The 1970 Duster 340, OTOH, was a whole new ballgame. It was hundreds less than not only the E-body cars, but also the previous A-body musclecars. It was really the second coming of the success of the original Roadrunner and, just like the Roadrunner, Chrysler was unprepared for it.
And in a further irony, if they had stuck with the A-body package, they would have been ideally situated for the fuel crisis that nobody saw coming.
I wonder if the B-bodies were another problem, in that a Charger/RR/GTX was basically aimed at the same customer as the Es. If they’d gotten broughamier, sooner, that would have given the tweener cars a little more breathing room. They still were selling around 100k Chargers a year with the Challenger in the same showroom, IIRC.
When the E-body cars made their appearance in 1970 I still had my 1967 383 4-speed Barracuda fastback. I decided that I was better off keeping my A-body car, which was shorter and lighter than an E-body car. In a way I was ahead of my time given the way the later Dusters and Demons cleaned up on the E-body cars. I’ll certainly admit having cast covetous glances at various E-body Challengers and Cudas, this pink one being one of them.
This has been discussed ad naseum, but its 100% right. Max out your options and the E body was the more serious performer but for that all around mix of good looks, affordable price and as much muscle as a regular guy can afford, the Duster/Demon were a better value. The overlap between these is what was their undoing. With a little foresight, the way to do it would be to eliminate anything less than the 340 in these cars since that’s where the A bodys topped out. The E’s would then be a step up and in essence could’ve been halo cars.
Wait and see…I think the Hellcat now will completely cannibalize Viper sales unless Ma Mopar takes some drastic action to get some new venom in the snake. Hellcat V-10, anyone? 1000 hp on a production car sounds ok by me!
And here I thought I was being so clever with my observation lol. I can feel the eye rolls from here. What’s worse is that I think I made that comment before, forgot, and made it again. Usually when I repeat myself it’s intentional 🙂
There was never a Mopar in the immediate family, except for a ’61 Chrysler Windsor that I barely remember (it was a great car). If there had been I’d know more about them.
For some odd reason though, one Chrysler feature sticks in my mind like glue and that’s the black push button on the door handle. I know better than to ask if anyone’s noticed that but is there a reason it was black? It’s plastic I presume, but why?
I recently read a story about the “multi-colored Challenger (was it here)….anyway, there actually was a Challenger painted in strips of all the available colors.
interiors always look better with a few different colors thrown in. a light color like white with black carpet always looks sharp to me.
first time i recall being fascinated by a two tone interior was on a ’76 firebird formula. white interior, black carpet and a blue exterior. that car was so sharp i can still see it some 35 years later.
Great color, and fascinating that the car has both SE and R/T equipment. Wonder if they could be ordered that way, or if this is a later “R/T-zation” as suggested? Nice interior too with the white seats and nicer dash/door panels. But am I seeing things, or does this car have very spiffy seats/panels and then no carpet?
I’ve always preferred the ‘Cuda to the Challenger; I think I like the aggression of the design. Though I prefer the one-year-only quad-lamp version for ’71. The Challenger is still an attractive car, though, especially one as nicely optioned out as this! Lose the luggage rack though.
I wasn’t up on my Barracuda history and didn’t realize that they went to quad headlights for ’71 only…the more you know!
’71 Cudas are my favorite as well. I’d want one with billboard graphics, like Tom’s brother applied to his ’73. I also like strobe stripe graphics on the ’70 T/A Cuda.
I see a limelight 70 ‘Cuda with strobe graphics,383 auto and strangely a column shift at shows in northern England.
R/T and S/E options could be ordered together-all S/E’s got a vinyl roof to hide the plug to make the rear window smaller. The car in the photos has carpeting–I don’t think the cheapest Challenger had a rubber floor mat.
I remember a 70 Challenger RT / SE Hemi in black at the local Mercury dealer as a used car in about 1972 or so. I assume it was the real deal…I don’t think there was too much faking back in those days. A Hemi back then probably wasn’t too popular. In 1970 across the street at the Plymouth Chrysler dealer their new Superbird sat on the lot for a least a year…too bad I was only 15 and only had money from a paper route!
The problem I have with E-bodies today is the same one I had when they were new. With so many models, options and colours, which one do I want? 🙂
This is the car the pink “Power Ranger” drives.She`s got one hell of a ride!
Way back in the late 70s, a friend of mine had a ’73 ‘Cuda that someone stole the drive shaft from one night. The prime suspect was a scumbag Challenger owner in the area who had made it known prior to this that he needed a drive shaft. I told my friend at the the time that I strongly suspected that the ‘Cuda shaft wasn’t long enough. Despite police involvement, it was never recovered, and I sometimes wonder what became of it when the miscreant who stole it found out it wouldn’t fit.
I would suspect it became an impromptu Javelin at that point.
(or maybe not, how heavy is a driveshaft?)
Reminds me of when I was in college, and the soft halftop from my Scrambler got pinched. I guess that’s a bit of justice for the numbskull that thought he could do a quick and dirty conversion on a CJ or YJ. Of course it IS do-able, but its gonna take more than just the skin to pull it off. You need the bulkhead, top frame, and some creative rollbar re-engineering.
> Don’t feel bad for Greg though, as he has a Limelight ’70 Challenger R/T with no vinyl roof and the rare Chartreuse bumblebee stripe!
I’d take that one!
> Gone were the R/T, the Hemi, the 440. All that was left with a sporting intent was the 1972 Rallye–with a small block.
I thought that the 440 was still available in ’72, but it was detuned and the 6-pack was no longer available. On Cudas at least, advance dealer literature for ’72 indicated that the 440 6-pack would still be offered, and a few people pre-ordered them before it was officially discontinued. I read that those cars got 440 4-bbls installed, and a 6-pack carb setup was thrown in the trunk to be installed by the dealership. (This doesn’t make it a true 6-pack car, both because the VIN tag would indicate a 440 4-bbl and because “true” 6-pack engines used heavier internals inside the engine.)
A 1972 OEM 440 E-body would be a rare car, with or without the 6-Bbl in the trunk, right up there with the last Hemi cars. AFAIK, none have ever been documented to exist.
The closest might be the ‘one’ 1972 440 6-Bbl Roadrunner that got built the first week of production.
Oops, I guess I was thinking of B-bodies then (Charger, Roadrunner, GTX), as 440s were still available in those in 1972.
According to this webpage, three “real” 440 6-pack cars are known to exist:
I can’t find an online reference that the few 1972 6-packs to satisfy early orders were dealer installed. I read it in a book or magazine years ago.
Meh, I doubt anyone cares much seeing the E-body/Duster story rehashed every time there’s a CC on one or the other.
In fact, besides the rather tepid sales of previous A-body musclecars, sales of the Nova SS didn’t seem to be impacting those of the Camaro. Who could blame Chrysler for not seeing what was going to happen.
My mother’s best friend had one of these in green. I remember it mostly because I I almost fell out of it one day as she turned left onto the main road. Apparently the passenger side door hadn’t latched properly and it swung open. I just managed to stay in the car. Took a while for my heart rate to return to normal…
Happened to me with a ’70 Valiant as a friend was driving me home from school. I still remember his “Oops – sorry!”.
This just brings back some longing all over again…at the storage barn where I keep one of my cars, there’s a red ’70 Challenger TA that’s been sitting unattended for probably 30 years. At this point, it’s dusty, on four flat tires, and has some mouse damage. Apparently, the owner just pays the storage bill every year and doesn’t do anything with it.
At the place where I store one of my cars, there’s a 1st gen Corvair and a GM motorhome that both fit the same description.
Shortly after getting my drivers license, my dad traded his humongous 66 Buick Wildcat in on a 1970 Challenger, orange with white interior. Alas, it was a 383 2 barrel with automatic, but it was great fun. Years later he sold it to me, and it got me through the last couple of years in of the Navy and than graduate school. I then sold it for a song, of course.
Lots of E body love here. My dad had a orange ’71 340 Cuda that my grandpa got for my grandma before I was born. Apparently it was way too much car for her (ummm…ya think??) so my dad took it over.
Great writeup, Tom and it sounds like you work for some really cool people. You can never know too many friendly gearheads with good taste in cars. That ad you posted has some tasty looking cars. I wish that R/T vert was a hardtop tho. Ivy green is such a ’70s color and the white interior sets it off perfect.
Its not an E body, but I finally did a brief test drive on a ’11 R/T 6spd last nite. The dealership is smack in the middle of downtown Portland and traffic was a nightmare. I never even got the car out of 2nd gear but I could still tell what a monster that car really is. Best part is, its solid white with black leather interior. It has vanity plates that read “KWL SKI”…whoever owned that car first set it up just for me! Im gonna take it for a ‘real’ test drive Saturday. If the numbers shake out….
I’ve often wondered how many Kowalski cars are out there. Too bad the original wasn’t special in some way so Chrysler could make a special, limited-edition version.
E-body love falls into the category of thinking with the little head. For all practical intents and purposes, they’re wretched cars. But for the times when everything’s right, well, they’re nirvana.
Speaking of Kowalski’s Challenger, one guy did a nice tribute with the 2008 Challenger and Vanishing Point and it didn’t end by crashed on the bulldozers. 😉
I am not a big fan of Mopar vehicles at all but I have totally impressed with how Dodge designed the current Challenger. It is a very close to how the original looked like.
I prefer the Challenger over the ‘Cuda, but love both. I just like the body lines and grille of the Challenger better. As for the luggage rack, YUK. My 1976 Corvette had a luggage rack (and if any car ever actually needed one, the Corvette did) but I hated it, it totally ruined the lines of the car. No way to get rid of it, it would leave holes in the car, and repairing those would have required a repaint. With cars, I will take style over function anytime. I can get around the lack of function, but just don’t want to live with an ugly car.
I have got to be in the minority here but I just plain have never seen the appeal to these cars. In person their proportions are just odd like Chrysler took a 69 Camaro increased its size by 10% then squished it from the top down to keep it from looking too tall. To me these cars were made 3 years too late and seem awfully dated compared to a 70 Camaro.
They did come out 3 years too late. They were chasing a rapidly vanishing market segment. Part of the reason for developing the E-bodies was that the Hemi couldn’t be shoehorned into the earlier (pre-1970) Barracuda, and the big blocks just barely fit in it. They got 2 years out of the E-body before the Hemi and big blocks were dropped from the option list.
I wondered how a E-body Challenger/Barracuda would had fared if it had got the Australian Hemi 6-pack who was under the hood of the Aussie Chargers?
It’s been done – in scale, that is!
The 71 scoops on a 70 really bugs me for some reason, instantly makes me think it’s a tribute, more so than the SE package even, but I absolutely LOVE this color on E bodies(and I don’t care what that says about me!). I always liked the smaller rear window on the SE too.
XR7Matt, I still vividly recall the fall of 1969 when these cars first came out. I was still about 6 weeks away from turning 15. And, I didn’t get my first car until the summer or fall leading into my Senior year. Anyway, while already a huge Mopar guy, was more of a Dodge guy, and loved the look of the all-new Challenger, especially in the High Impact colors. My Dad was a (Mopar) car guy, too, so I come by it naturally. And, he had the habit of visiting the showrooms of the new-car dealers when the new cars came out, typically late September. What I’ve rarely seen mentioned here was that back then, for the first weekend of the new car intros, most dealerships offered freebies to get people into the showrooms to give them the opportunity to sell you a new car. That most often involved free hot dogs, soft drinks, popcorn and something for the spouse and/or kid(s). Most often a balloon for the kid(s) and maybe a ruler or yardstick with the dealer name and phone number one it. And, of course, the full-color sales brochures for the people (like my dad) were weren’t ready to buy today, but were considering their next car. Now the Dodge dealer did not have a large lot, so only a week or two after visiting the showrooms and walking away with quite a few sales brochures, my dad told me he knew where the Dodge dealer overflow lot was located. To this day I recall where that was; it’s a still vacant lot that’s walking distance from where my brother has lived for about 14 years. That is the lot in which I got to see the new Challengers and other Dodges in daylight. And, the cars were all unlocked, allowing us the opportunity to sit in the car and pop the hood. All without any pushy salespeople. The lot had quite a few Challengers in a wide variety of colors, as well as different engines. I’m telling this story as this sticks out in my memory of all the new car introductions I’ve seen in my entire life as the most memorable. Memorable because of the great-looking, new Dodge Challenger which I was very fond of.
Fast forward to 1976, when I located and purchased a 1971 Challenger. It was a bright red base model with the trusty 318 V-8 and TorqueFlite automatic with black vinyl seats and a black vinyl top. The previous owner had added an R/T hood, so it looked pretty sharp. Despite 5 years in central Ohio, the overall condition inside and out was great. Still almost like new. Had no mechanical or any other issues with it. I’ll acknowledge that while it drove pretty good, the ride and handling weren’t quite up to what the looks suggested. It wasn’t too big of a disappointment, but I realized it could have been a little bit better. My brother borrowed the car once after I’d had it about 6 months. He didn’t make it home with the car. He had a wreck where he went off the road in taking a turn. To this day have never learned all the details. Apparently, it did some frame damage where it would never be quite the same. While I was obviously disappointed about what happened, I rationalized that it was only a car and that my brother was OK. Quite possibly at my father’s urging, my brother offered to buy the car from me. So he did and got it fixed to make it drivable. He had to quickly sell his 1966 Chevy Malibu in order to pay me. In short order, I located another Dodge that I liked as much or better. Actually much better. I found a red, 1973 Charger on the used car lot of Tansky Toyota, on N. High Street in Columbus. It had the Rallye package with the power bulge hood and a 340/automatic. It had a black vinyl top with a factory sunroof and the rather rare cloth and vinyl seats. It was a one-owner car with 36K miles, having been originally purchased from Spitzer Dodge on East Main Street in Columbus. I quickly came to like it far better than the Challenger as the ride and handling were perfect for around town or out on the highway. I liked it so much I planned to keep it forever. However, I traded it after about seven years for a smaller, more economical car.
Matt, what this is all leading up to is that until you mentioned it, I didn’t catch that this Panther Pink 1970 Challenger RT/SE inaccurately has the 1971 R/T scoops on each side of the car. And, with the Mopar Nationals held only a short distance away, have been there many, many times to see many other Mopars from around the country. I can’t believe I didn’t catch that.
I owned a ’70 Challenger. It rusted away to the salt of Detroit winters. Dashboard split into chunks. Paint exploded off in random spots down to the primer — we called it the “chipped challenger” because the plum crazy paint chipped off onto the pavement. Miss the car tho.
How long before it dissolved?A lot of cars were ordered with no under seal to save $ and weight.I heard of a no under seal 68 Roadrunner that was scrapped after 2 UK winters in early summer 1975
This reminds me of the story of a guy who was responsible for spraying that sealant to the underside of Chrysler products. Apparently, the union contract required that he wave the spray wand ‘x’ number of times underneath the car. Unfortunately, for some reason, sometimes there wasn’t a sufficient amount of sealant. So, the guy would actually just wave the empty spray wand (with nothing coming out of it) the required number of times underneath the cars that went by.
Oh and by the way Tom, I know you’ve got a few Highway 61 E-bodies yourself, this real CC nearly matches my 1:18 Miniature! 😀
The appeal to me is mostly visual. I love the lines. Park a ’70 Challenger next to a 2010 and up model, and the ’70 wins hands down. I like the ’70 Camaro too. But I love the Challenger’s wedge shape and swoopy line that goes along the side. I also like the body contours. The new model is slab sided, too tall and narrow. the original has curved sides that wrap around from top to bottom. The edge of the roofline above the door is considerably narrower from side to side than the top of the doors, the glass has a lot of curve to it, and the door curves back in, with the tires actually sticking outside the rocker panel. My ’72 Pinto has this same shape. This is fairly unique to ’70s cars. The ’70s grille looks like a jet intake.
While the Challenger came out too late, so did the ’70 Camaro redesign. I wish Dodge had continued to make the Challenger throughout the ’70s with minimal changes as a non muscle car, like GM did with the Camaro/Firebird. And I wish they had been more true to the original design with the new one. I realize there were issues with the bumpers, etc to meet modern DOT standards, but that did not need to effect the basic dimensions of the car. They could have even put chrome trim over the plastic bumpers to give it a chrome bumpered look.
I still may buy a used late model base model Challenger, depending on how high the insurance is. Far from perfect, but much nicer than most everything else out there. If I were rich I would own a ’70 model.
‘Visual Appeal’ is a great way to describe a car like the E-body. Looking at one in either print or real life, they’ve got it all, both exterior and interior.
But owning/driving one as regular transportation is a whole different ballgame. They have to rank as one of the worst built, most uncomfortable cars that Chrysler ever built. They rarely get noticed for that, though, simply because of their appearance. Even straight line performance is questionable, being as they didn’t weigh any less than an intermediate B-body. The E-body was, in effect, just an intermediate-sized ponycar, making it much less practical.
Iacocca struck gold making the Mustang from the Falcon. Chrysler making the Barracuda/Challenger from the Belvedere fell flat on its face.
The Challenger was not a family car. I got my ’70 at age 16. My dad bought it and financed it for me, and I agreed to make the payments, which I did, though sometimes I didn’t have enough left over to put gas in it. I drove it for 7+ years, until the engine blew up, and absolutely loved it. I still seriously regret selling it and getting another car rather than replacing the engine. This was a teenagers dream car, and being older now, it is still a dream car for me, because I had one 40 years ago. Only now it is priced well out of my reach.
Every time I see pics of a ’70-’74 Challenger or ‘Cuda, I instantly get angry about the two that “got away”. The first was when I was just about to turn 18, just after the E-bodies went out of production. My mother let the one I wanted get sold, when I had the cash to buy it. She didn’t seem to understand they would soon be gone. The second one was a ’73 Ralleye Challenger a friend of mine bought in 1979, in amazing condition, with about 10K miles. A couple of years later, it was a mess, and I could have bought it for $500, and I’ve always regretted not grabbing it up and getting it back to what it was.
There is no shortage of High-Impact E-Bodies on the Mopar show circuit.
Nice one Tom. I assume a fairly tiny percentage of cars were ordered in this colour originally, but the proportion is much greater today. Over here too there were similar colours and many cars would have been repainted in a more conventional colour before their 20th birthday – many have since gone back to the original now that the rare and unusual is celebrated among muscle car collectors!
Yep I had a bright orange LJ Torana it damn near glowed in the dark but fell apart despite the go faster colour ended up at Gympie wreckers $80.
Interestingly(or not) my older brother who wasn’t really a car guy, drove up one day in 1978 with his new ride. A rather worn out 1970 Challenger SE .
Metallic brown in color with the small back window and overhead console.
The weird part came ,when he opened the hood to proudly display the Slant Six under the hood….
The period ads and brochure pics above show where the Challenger was aimed, a Luxury Pony car for men and women commuters.
Notice the full line ‘Dodge Material’ ad doesn’t really highlight ‘muscle cars’ or high performance? And yes, women were a major target demographic for Pony Cars. Not all 2 doors were just for ‘car guys’.
So many old Challengers have been rebuilt as “Hemi Clones” that some assume all of them were such. Especially with the modern one being pretty much sold as a ‘muscle car.
Sadly (for me) I see many new and vintage Challengers (and Camaros and Mustangs) with 22″ “ree-uhms” I have been searching Craigslist for a late model of one of these cars I can afford, and most of them are like that. The few that I can barely afford all seem to have these ugly ghetto wheels. Maybe I could buy one, sell those monstrosities on Craigslist for enough to buy a set of base stock wheels.
An especially sharp car and well-maintained, considering the white interior.
While the original Challenger sold well in its first year but quickly faltered after that, the revived one in 2008 followed the opposite trajectory, increasing sales each of its first eight years on the market, selling only 17,423 in its first year but settling in the 60-65,000 range since 2015.
The comments above point out the Duster as cannibalizing these car’s sales, but nobody points out why corporate got so irritated over the failure of these in the market. The Duster was done in secret. The budget allocated to a Valiant facelift was redirected to making the Duster, a project never green-lighted by the higher ups. It was hidden as a project by Plymouth to come up with curved side glass, a novelty at the time. Once disclosed, corporate was not thrillled. Then Duster ate the E-body lunch money. Those involved in the project were very much reviled once it was clear it was internally cannibalizing sales of the higher margin cars. And honestly, I would prefer a Duster 340 over this, so it’s not hard to see why the E-body cars sunk fast.
The people behind the Duster were likely as detested as John Delorean and the GTO over at GM.
Still, it would be great to see the breakout of profit from the wildly successful Duster compared to what Chrysler might have made with the E-body if it had sold in the numbers they wanted. They sold a lot of Dusters, Demons, and Dart Sports virtually unchanged over seven years.
Few cars can rock the color pink without looking like a Pepto bismol advert. I think this Challenger and attached Espada pull it off very well. Great story but you left out one important piece of information. How on earth did your brother convince his Volvo driving parents to let him buy a Challenger for his first car. Did it involve hypnosis, Jedi mind trickery or possibly a controlled substance?
In 1973, I wanted a Barracuda in the worst way, having to settle for a 318 (the ‘Cuda 340’s insurance would have killed me!) however the deal collapsed on the one I was trying to get. I ended up, a few years later with a one owner ’74 Challenger, which I still own today; with it only having racked up 69k actual miles! 🙂
Don’t know why the picture didn’t attach!! Maybe this time…..
Of course CC-in-scale has an E-body in pink!