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Ranking The Greatest Dodge Challengers As The Legend Fades Away

Vukasin Herbez November 3, 2023

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Dodge Challenger R/T Hemi 426

Plymouth had the Barracuda, the first pony car model introduced two weeks before the Ford Mustang. Yet its stablemate Dodge didn’t enter the segment until 1970. Some muscle car historians said Dodge was almost late to the party. But the Challenger was so good that it left its own mark and reserved a place in history. Mopar’s E-Body models, the Barracuda and Challenger, were brand-new for 1970. They featured new designs, better construction, and a wider, longer body (via Motor Trend).

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There was no significant mechanical difference between the Barracuda and the Challenger, only the design. The two cars had some interchangeable bodywork parts as well. The Challenger immediately got the full firepower of Mopar’s engines as buyers could get a powerful 383 V8, a big 440, and the famous 426 Hemi.

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Dodge Challenger R/T 440

The Challenger R/T was a close relative of the Plymouth Hemi ‘Cuda. However, it did not have the expensive and sometimes tricky-to-maintain Hemi V8 engine. Under the hood was a 440 Magnum V8 with a famous Six-Pack intake (three two-barrel carburetors). That allowed this massive engine to deliver a healthy 390 hp. Although not as exotic as some other cars on this list, the Challenger R/T was more affordable. It was also more accessible to modify and tune, and almost as fast straight from the dealership (via How Stuff Works).

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The 1970 Challenger R/T could be equipped either with an automatic or a four-speed manual. Regardless of the transmission choice, when you hit the right pedal hard enough, you could reach 60 mph in about 5.5 seconds. It did the quarter-mile in 13.62 seconds at 104 mph, which was enough to put this Dodge among the fastest cars of the era. All told it is a true classic of the muscle car genre.

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Dodge Challenger R/T Hemi Convertible

When Dodge entered the pony car segment in 1970 (via Street Muscle). The models we discussed above were undoubtedly classic muscle cars that will live on an icons of the genre. But this particular Challenger is one that’s incredibly rare and hard to find.

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Since the Challenger was an actual muscle car, the majority of sold examples were coupes. But the convertible was also available. They were still difficult to obtain. In 1970, Dodge produced only nine convertible Challengers, with the Hemi making this model one of the rarest and most powerful muscle car convertibles built in those golden years.

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Dodge Diamante Challenger

Dodge may have come late to the pony car segment. But they immediately showed they were there to stay. The Challenger was a great muscle car with iconic styling and a lineup of powerful engines. However, Dodge was looking for more. It wanted to see if the Challenger could be transformed into a sports car that could rival the Chevrolet Corvette (via Motor Trend). That’s why the Diamante concept car was born. The car received a new front and rear end, a two-seat interior, turbine-style wheels, and an attractive Targa top.

Photo Credit: Dodge

With the 426 Hemi under the hood, the Diamante was fast. With its custom side pipes exhaust, it sounded fantastic too. Dodge eventually abandoned the idea of a Corvette fighter, but the Diamante attracted lots of attention nonetheless. The main reason was that it looked like something Dodge could build with little investment in a short period the main ingredients were all there. We bet that a lot of Mopar fans were disappointed when they realized the Diamante wasn’t going to happen.

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Dodge Challenger R/T

The Challenger got a whole arsenal from Mopar when it was introduced, which meant you could spec it in an R/T package with 440 and 426 Hemi engines. For 1971, Dodge tuned down its wild pony car a bit, giving it a slight restyling and killing the convertible option on the R/T model (via Hemmings).

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However, the 440 and Hemi remained the top engine options and the Challenger was as fast as the year before. But the end was in sight since the Hemi would be dropped for the 1972 model year. The power would gradually go down in the next few years. The 1972 Challenger R/T got a new front and rear end and its lineup of engines was even smaller. The R/T model only got 240 hp from its 340 V8 engine and the performance wasn’t so excellent.

Photo Credit: Dodge

Dodge Challenger

After the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro got fantastic retro versions, the Challenger was next with its iteration of a classic shape. It succeeded, staying on the market for over 10 years with minimal changes. Drawing inspiration from the classic 1970 to 1974 model, the Challenger is one of the most successful retro-futuristic cars ever (via Edmunds).

Photo Credit: Dodge

For this third coming, Chrysler used its LC platform. It was a standard Mopar chassis that can be found on the Charger or Chrysler 300C. In 2015, the Challenger got a restyling and mechanical improvement and moved to LA chassis architecture. The modern-day Challenger was a great success. Its engine lineup started with a V6 but the Hemi V8 was the top dog as the engine everyone wanted.

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Dodge Challenger Drag Pak (2010)

With the revival of the famous muscle car names came the modern Challenger and its Drag Pak model. Announced in 2010, the Challenger Drag Pak looked pretty ordinary with a body-in-white and black hood and without any other visual signs there was a monster underneath (via Motor Trend).

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In classic Dodge tradition, it had a big hood scoop, a 6.1-liter Hemi engine underneath, a Dana 60 rear axle, and upgraded suspension and brakes. It underwent lightweight treatment by Dodge’s special vehicles department, which also showed in the interior.

Photo Credit: Dodge

2011 Dodge Challenger SRT-8

Equipped with a 6.1-liter V8 Hemi engine pumping out 425 hp and a glorious soundtrack through twin tailpipes, the Challenger SRT-8 was a speedy and capable car. The 0 to 60 mph sprint took around 4.9 seconds and its top speed was over 170 mph (via Car and Driver).

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The design was the same, with few improvements. The 2011 Challenger SRT-8 was very fast, surprising more than a few Mustang and Camaro owners. After a long wait, Dodge fans finally had a car that they could be proud of that was both cool and fast.

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Dodge Challenger GT AWD

Dodge had a different vision of what a muscle car is with this Challenger. For decades, muscle cars were rear-wheel drive-only vehicles, and in 2016, Dodge introduced a special model in the Challenger lineup called the GT AWD (via Torque News).

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It’s a Challenger with recognizable coupe styling, retro charm, and an aggressive stance. But underneath the cool-looking body, there’s a V6 and intelligent all-wheel-drive (AWD) system. There are no more smoky burnouts and rear wheels on fire. Instead, there was loads of traction even in the most challenging conditions. At the moment, the Dodge Challenger AWD is the only all-wheel-drive production muscle car ever made. Ford and Chevrolet don’t have anything similar for the Mustang or Camaro.

Photo Credit: Dodge

Dodge Challenger Scat Pack

Despite the fact we’re living in times where muscle cars have advanced technology and innovative systems, some people still want a good old American muscle coupe with a roaring V8 and attitude to match. For those folks, Dodge has the Challenger Scat Pack, a retro muscle car with modern technology. It boasts a fantastic Hemi V8 with 6.1 liters and 485 hp (via Sunny Side Dodge).

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If you can’t afford the crazy Challenger Hellcat with 707 hp, you can still get the Scat Pack version, which is more than enough. The 0 to 60 mph times are in the 4.5-second range and the top speed is close to 170 mph.

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Dodge Challenger SRT Demon

If 707 hp from the Hellcat package isn’t enough for you and you want the ultimate modern muscle car, the Demon package is just the thing. With standard fuel, it will deliver a lofty 808 hp. But if you use high-octane fuel, it can pump out almost 840 hp (via CNBC).

Photo Credit: Dodge

The rest of the Demon package is equally insane, from the transmission, suspension, and brakes to its widebody stance. The acceleration from 0 to 60 is less than 3threeseconds. Under full power, the Demon will accelerate with 1.8 G force, faster than being dropped off a cliff. The car is capable of covering a quarter-mile sprint in less than 10 seconds straight from the dealer. If the reports are accurate and Chrysler is considering discontinuing the Hemi engine lineup, muscle car fans with an extreme need for speed will want to get their hands on one of these right away.

Photo Credit: Mopar Insiders

Dodge Challenger Drag Pack

Drag racing is significant in the USA and manufacturers sometimes produce specially prepared versions for racers in Stock classes. Those cars started their life as ordinary models but have been turned into fierce drag racers by eliminating all that isn’t necessary and adding much more power (via Motor Trend).

Photo Credit: Mopar Insiders

The best example is the crazy Dodge Challenger Drag Pack model, which debuted in 2011 as a non-street-legal model sold only to professional racers and teams. It was a stripped-down Challenger with a Viper V10 engine, 600 hp, and drag tires. As soon as this car appeared on race tracks across the country, records were shattered. Its 0 to 60 mph time was only 1.80 seconds.

Photo Credit: Dodge

Dodge Challenger Hellcat

In 2014, the Hellcat arrived and the car community went wild. Dodge released the Hellcat Charger and Challenger models to excellent fanfare. This reaction was logical since the 6.2-liter supercharged Hemi V8 with 707 hp is a proper monster of a muscle car that Dodge arguably shouldn’t release on the streets. But they did just that, allowing the general public to buy one of the fastest and most powerful muscle cars ever built. Despite enormous power in any aspect, Hellcats are surprisingly good to drive and can be docile at low speeds (via Car and Driver).

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Only when you press the throttle and unleash the fury of 707 supercharged Hemi horses can you feel the brutality of the Hellcat package and all the power sent to the rear wheels. The 0 to 60 mph times are in the high three-second range and the car can top 200 mph.

Photo Credit: Mopar Insiders

2016 Dodge Challenger Drag Pak

Sparking the drag strip wars, Dodge made another strong move in 2016 by introducing the 2016 Challenger Drag Pak model. This time, the mighty V10 was gone. Instead, Dodge offered two engines (via Top Speed).

Photo Credit: Mopar Insiders

The white and blue paint scheme signaled a 5.7-liter supercharged V8 under the hood and the white and black paint meant a naturally aspirated 426 Hemi V8 powered that Challenger. Even though the displacement suggests that it was the same 426 Hemi from the glory days of muscle cars, this was a modern version with unique internals and aluminum blocks and heads.

Photo Credit: Dodge

Dodge Challenger Widebody

The Challenger is a tuner’s dream. There are just so many modifications drivers can make to this car. Even the factory itself released a particular version. The Challenger Widebody was first listed in 2019. This model has a special widebody kit similar to the Hellcat (via Dodge).

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However, the Widebody option can be ordered with lesser Challengers. It’s pretty popular with people looking to have a wide Challenger that looks like a Hellcat but goes a bit slower. Still, the Widebody goes on Scat Pack and V8-powered models, so it’s still fast.

Photo Credit: Dodge

2021 Dodge Challenger Drag Pak

Although Dodge announced that the Challenger would be discontinued, its legacy will live on through specialty models like the Drag Pak. In 2021, Dodge improved the well-known model with better components, more challenging parts, and a faster-shifting automatic transmission (via Dodge Garage).

Photo Credit: Dodge

Under the lightweight hood is a sturdy 5.7-liter Hemi with a supercharger, aluminum block, and forged rods. Interestingly, Dodge also offered a body-in-white without the engine for customers who wanted to install their own drivetrains.

Photo Credit: Dodge

Dodge Challenger SRT Demon 170

How do we properly say goodbye to the modern muscle era? The Hellcat and the Demon were great but the SRT Demon 170 is on another level. What is it? It is a 2023-only model with 1,025 hp (on race gas) and a 0 to 60 mph time of 1.66 seconds (on race tires) (via Auto Week).

Photo Credit: Dodge

The 6.4-liter supercharged Hemi V8 has improvements to deliver such impressive power. On standard gas, the SRT Demon 170 has “just” 900 hp, but on race fuel, it provides a full 1,025 hp. However, it comes with only one seat since it is a race car. Previously, the passenger seat was available as a $1 option, so on the Demon 170, it will be similar. The base price is $140,000 and only 3,300 cars will leave the factory in Ontario.

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