This Dodge press photo is...
This Dodge press photo is typical of what was handed out back in the day to the media during press launches-launches like we recently attended for the 2009 Challenger. The '70 Challenger's print embargo date was 2 p.m. on Wednesday, August 27, 1969.
The Challenger featured traditional Chrysler unit-body engineering with guard beams in the doors to protect driver and passenger from side impacts. Up front, 0.90-inch torsion bars and independent lateral, nonparallel control arms with Oriflow shocks and a 0.94-inch stabilizer bar were used; with the 426 and 440 engines, the bar diameter was increased to 0.92 inch. Around back, the live rear axle was braced by semi-elliptical leaf springs. A 0.75-inch stabilizer bar was offered in some applications along with four leaves per spring. On models with large-displacement engines, the right rear spring had five full leaves and two half leaves, while the left had six full leaves to handle the extra torque shock and reduce axle windup.
With the proviso that the E-body engine bay accommodate every engine offered by Chrysler, a total of nine different powerplants were offered in the Challenger. With engine choices ranging from a 225ci six-cylinder to the asphalt-melting 426 Hemi, the Challenger was able to compete in all segments of the ponycar/muscle car market.
The '70 Challenger was offered in two series: Challenger and Challenger R/T. Both series had three distinct models: hardtop, convertible, and Special Edition (SE). The base Challenger was equipped with a 225 six-cylinder or 318 V-8 engine, all-vinyl interior that featured buckets up front, three-spoke wood-grained steering wheel, and standard instrumentation that included a large speedometer to the left of the steering column with four pods containing gauges for fuel, temperature and alternator to the right. The fourth pod contained the optional clock; otherwise it was left blank. Below and to the left of the speedometer were switches for lamps, wipers and accessories. Also to the left of the column was the heater control panel. Below the gauges to the right of the column was the optional radio. In the center of the instrument panel was the ashtray, and below that the cowl vent controls.
The 1970 Challenger's pistol-grip...
The 1970 Challenger's pistol-grip shift handle: ergonomic in appearance only. Many a knuckle has been busted on the dash while powershifting Third gear.
On Challenger R/T models, the 383 Magnum engine was standard, along with the Power Bulge hood, heavy-duty drum brakes, variable speed wipers, F70x14 billboard tires, and Rallye Instrument Cluster. The Rallye cluster consisted of a wood-grained panel with four large pods containing a 150-mph speedometer with a trip odometer, clock/tachometer, oil pressure gauge, temperature, alternator, and fuel gauge.
A longitudinal tape stripe or bumblebee stripe around the tail was offered at no extra cost on the Challenger R/T. "I never did like the bumblebee thing that went across the back," recalled Cameron. "In fact, that was one of my most disappointing moments in styling. I had spent all these years and money going to Art Center to be a car designer, and some yo-yos-some outsiders-were putting bumblebees on these cars."
When the SE package was ordered, a vinyl roof with "formal roof styling" and a smaller backlight (styled by Mack King) was included. The SE roof was unique, thanks to the seam pattern designed by Cameron. "The location of the seams on a standard vinyl roof run from front to rear," Cameron explained. "The SE seams ran from the windshield back beside the rear window to the base of the vinyl roof. This made the top appear lower in profile because you read the seams. It also looked wider from the rear. I thought I'd start an industry trend with that one." Also included were leather-faced sear upholstery and an overhead interior consolette with door ajar, fasten seatbelt, and low-fuel warning lamps.
The beltline of the '70 Challenger...
The beltline of the '70 Challenger was arguably one of the sexiest ever penned. Shape is accentuated even more on the convertible offering seen here.
The Challenger R/T could be ordered with the Shaker hood scoop painted body color, black crackle, or Argent Silver. The Shaker scoop rose through a hole cut in the hood and was sealed with a gasket to reduce water leakage. When the engine would rev, the scoop would shake, which, according to Chrysler, "Puts on a song and dance right before everyone's eyes."
Offered on the Challenger was a mind-numbing array of options and accessories. Buyers had a choice of two different road wheels, a multitude of stripes and decals, and the thumping 440 engine with a trio of Holley two-barrel carburetors that cranked out an underrated 390 hp, and could flatten Hemis in the quarter-mile. Also offered was a bench seat, cruise control, power windows, and racing mirrors. In all, there were literally hundreds of paint, stripe, wheel, hood, and engine option combinations available. Rarely did two Challengers ever look the same.
If Chrysler management had any fears that the Challenger would be viewed as the Barracuda's redheaded stepchild, they were relieved when the final '70 model year sales were tallied. Exactly 83,012 Challengers were sold, outselling the Barracuda by 27,513 units. The Challenger would continue until the end of the '74 model year. Its demise reflected the decline of the ponycar market; however, the Challenger's brief existence was a shining example of Dodge's styling and performance capabilities.
Challenger interior was sweet...
Challenger interior was sweet looking, with race-inspired gauge pods in the instrument cluster. Actual comfort compared to the new '09 Challenger was grim, however.
A Dodge call-out in the reverse...
A Dodge call-out in the reverse light panel was a first for Dodge, and almost didn't happen. It was questioned whether the lettering would be deemed legal by state standards.
My, how far ad copy has come...
My, how far ad copy has come in 38 years. Using sex to sell the '70 Challenger was like pouring cane sugar on top of a chocolate cake-completely unnecessary.