America's comeback kid
While the first use of the Dodge Challenger name was far from what made Mopar’s take on the pony car segment so iconic, the moniker’s reemergence in 1970 solidified a place in automotive history for the new pony car model. Building on Chrysler’s E Platform, Dodge employed its entire arsenal of high-performance engine options to not just rival cars such as the Mustang, Cougar, Firebird, and Camaro but to absolutely dominate the whole segment. On top of offering buyers almost infinite powertrain choices, the Challenger was also available in a number of trim levels and options. The Challenger could be ordered as a no-nonsense street-racer or a more fuel-efficient, stylish, and somewhat luxurious cruiser, or anywhere in between. Unfortunately, the Challenger’s late introduction doomed the car to a shortened first generation that ended production halfway through the 1974 model year. In all, only 165,437 examples were sold over four model years, leading to a three-year hiatus for the nameplate. In 1978, the Challenger returned for its second generation as a rebadged Mitsubishi Galant and again in 2008 for its third generation. Today, the Challenger is one of the most popular cars of the segment and was instrumental in kicking off what has been referred to as the second muscle car era.