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Kelly's Cars.Net | Dodge Challenger | 1970

The 1970 Challenger

While Mustangs were flying out of the dealerships at abnormal pace, General Motors devising the "Panther" codenamed ponycar project, the Boys at Dodge Main weren't standing idly. While the Hemis were ruling Woodward and Talledega, and even with their own corporate cousin ponycar Barracuda representing the Mopar contingent, an answer had to come, quickly. The first iteration of the new Dodge Ponycar was going to utilize compact car underpinnings (Ford G.M. were doing the same)from the A-body platform. This car wasn't going to be classified as an A-body, but be a platform all of its own. The largest engine was going to be the 383. Keep in mind, this was two years before Semon "Bunkie" Knudsen deliberately ignored the mandate set by G.M. that small and midsize car lines couldn't have any engine larger than four hundred cubic inches between the front wheelwells.

In 1968, Pandora's Box was opened when the midsized Oldsmobile 442 was introduced with the 455 cubic inch engine. The Camaro, and Firebird received larger engines, from G.M. in-house, and thanks to dealerships such as Yenko, and Nickey. Ford followed suit, with bigger powerplants in their newly redesigned Larry Shinoda-penned Mustangs. While the Hemi was available in the mid sized B body platform, they still weren't as small and sporty as these smaller cars. Dodge lept into the fray by offering Darts with 383 and 440 power. Teething problems with these larger engines were quickly apparent, special exhaust manifolds had to be created to facilitate installation of these engines, power steering and power brakes were also out of the question. The big block A bodies couldn't take a twisty road to save their lives. Basing this new car off the Dart was not possible.

Carl Cameron and Bill Brownlie worked around the larger B-body chassis instead.

Friday, August 1, 1969 was a busy day at Dodge Main in Hamtramck, Michigan. The first day of production commenced for the 1970 model year Dodges, including the all-new Challenger. While these cars will not hit the showroom floors for another month, assembly workers were in a frenzy putting the pilot, advertisement, and show cars together. The Diamante would be the 27th (new for 1970)E-body off the line, before the purple ragtop featured in many ads and bedroom posters.

The new Challenger, and it's Plymouth cousin the Barracuda, were produced for the "pony car" Market. The buying public now had a choice against the Camaro, Mustang, Cougar, and Firebird. 1970 was a great year for the Challenger, there were a plethora of options available, so it was possible to make a totally unique car. There were four trim levels available: Deputy, (which would debut later in the year), Highline, (which included the T/A and A66 340 performance package), R/T, and SE.

The new for 1970 pony car rode on a 111 wheelbase, while it's corporate cousin the Barracuda rode on a shortened 108 inch wheelbase. The Challenger and Barracuda would keep their respective basic dimensions throughout their five year production run. For the sake of corporate standardization, the E body platform shared many parts with other Chrysler products-the Challenger and Barracuda shared glass, and various interior pieces with each other. Both of those cars also shared underpinnings and the cowl (firewall to radiator core support) with the B-body lines. An example of an obstacle between engineering and the styling department was the discrepancy between the longer B-body springs and shortened rear clip. Carl Cameron and his stylists cleverly hid the bulges in the rear valence by adding bumper guards to cover the unsightly bumps. "You should have seen the rear end before we came up with that trick!", he reportedly quipped.

John Q. Customer had a plethora of options to check off before dotted line was signed for that shiny new Dodge Challenger. An abundance of choices, short of the kitchen sink or a Partridge in a Pear Tree, (gold star for whatever Mopar Fan guess what article I got that phrase from! --KFD)ensured anyone could order a unique car. From an 18+ color palette, an endless array of interior colors, vinyl top, and stripe configuration, personalization was easy!

1970 Challenger Paint Codes
Paint CodeName
EB3Light Blue Metallic
EB5Bright Blue Metallic
EB7Dark Blue Metallic
FE5Bright Red
FF4Light Green Metallic
EF8Dark Green Metallic
FK5Dark Burnt Orange Metallic
FT6Dark Tan Metallic
FY4Light Gold Metallic
The Hi-Impact colors were an additional 14 dollars
Paint CodeName
FC7Plum Crazy
EV2Hemi Orange
FY1Top Banana

These colors were available after Feb. 24, 1970
EA4Silver Poly
FJ6Green Go
FM3Panther Pink

Along with the 18 listed colors, 999 was an additional paint code, denoting special order. There was at least three cars car- an R/T SE painted EA9 Charcoal Iridescent, a 1970 Imperial color, and two others were possibly painted that color as well.

Along with the broad color range, there were a variety of striping, and vinyl top/two tone configurations. Although the Elwood Engel's design team (mostly headed up by Carl Cameron, though)despised the idea of having a vinyl top destroy the design continuity, they had to answer to marketing. Four vinyl tops added to the car's bottom line: A Black, White (Deputies reportedly have a brighter white top), Green, and the Gator Grain. The Special Edition cars had a different top (smaller rear window, and the top seams -what connects the top and side portions- are spaced differently). On the subject of vinyl tops, ASC was subcontracted by Chrysler to install the Sunroof (option code M51), which was power operated when the ignition was on, or could be manually cranked when the car was off. There was one 1970 T/A Challenger KNOWN to exist with a sunroof. A vinyl top was standard with the sunroof as well. You could not order an SE with the sunroof, because of the SE's overhead consolette.

1970 Challenger commercial, on YouTube. Sorry for the bad quality!

When the Challenger project was first coming closer to fruition in the final quarter of the nineteen sixties, the 383 was originally intended to be the largest engine in the second generation Barracuda and New Challenger. Chrysler had encountered headaches shoehorning the B and R/B engine into the Dart and A-body 'Cuda. Coupled with Semon "Bunkie" Knudsen's 400 cubic inch ban on the Camaro and Firebird, and the 390 being the largest engine in the Mustang (this was 1967, after all), the 383 being the big stick seemed like a no-brainer in Mother Mopar's quest to chase their slice of the 'pony car' market.

Late in 1968, engineering decided to utilize the B-body engine compartment and B-body suspension. However, it wasn't until months later, after learning of GM lifting the 400 Cubic inch ban, that the 440 and Hemi got the green light for the E-body project. Drive a big block car, and the suspension kinematics will attest to the bigger motors being an afterthought. With the addition of the big-block engine choices, the Challenger not only had the Mustang in its cross-hairs, but now the Chevelle as well. In the Spring of 1970, Dodge's new Challenger would not only be proving it's mettle at the 1969-1970 Woodward Avenue Stoplight Nationals on Saturday nights, but gunning for the European Contingent on Mulholland Drive with the Challenger T/A.

Option codeSize (cu. in.)TypeModelInductionHorsepower
B1986 CYL.JL211 bbl.101
C2256 CYL.JS231 bbl.145
G318LA V8JS232 bbl.230
H340LA V8JS234 bbl.275
J340LA V8JH23J3 X 2 bbl.290
L383B V8JS232 bbl.290
L383B V8R/T4 bbl.330
N383B V8R/T4 bbl.335
R426RB V8R/T2 X 4 bbl.425
U440RB V8R/T4 bbl.375
V440RB V8R/T3 X 2 bbl.390

There were four distinct models available for the 1970 Challenger: The 2 Door base model (a.k.a the Deputy), The Highline (With the Trans Am spin-off), The Special Edition, and the R/T. With these four models, two were available topless, the Highline, and R/T.

The 1969 Dodge Yellow Jacket whetted the public’s appetite for the upcoming 1970 model-year Challengers that would be available in September. Painted a pearl white, it featured a enduro-style bumpers similar to the Pontiacs. It had pop-up headlights, and taillights that directly foreshadowed the later production Challengers. The styling was unique as well, featuring a removable targa-style roof, seating for only two, and a deck lid that reached up to the headrests, similar to the early sixties Thunderbird roadsters.

Somewhere in transit, the Yellow Jacket got a massive scratch in its pearl paint. It was repainted a honey-gold color, received a slight restyle and would reemerge in the 1970 Show Season as the Diamante (a name later taken by Mitsubishi). Steve Juliano owns the Diamante now, and has since repainted it back to the original pearl white color.

A scan of the Wheels page for the 1970 Challenger brocure!

A scan of the Packages from the 1970 Challenger brocure!

The Trans Am Cars

The R/T Cars

The Western Sport Specials!

The R/T SE that got away!

The Pietro Frua Challenger

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