History buffs may have taken notice that 2020 marks a special milestone for the Dodge Challenger. While production has been on/off/on/off and on again over the years, the Challenger nameplate will turn 50 years old for the 2020 model year. It would be silly to assume that Dodge won’t celebrate this milestone with some sort of 50th anniversary package.
Said to be described as initially as a “rather late response” to the Ford Mustang, the Dodge Challenger skidded onto the scene in the fall of 1969 as a 1970 model year muscle car, with more colors than a crayon box, plus an incredible selection of eight engine choices. At the time, the Challenger played in the lineup above the (now highly sought-after) Plymouth Barracuda, and was more the answer to the Mercury Cougar and Pontiac Firebird, rather than the entry-level Chevrolet Camaro and Mustang.
Unfortunately, the coming-out party was short lived, and Dodge pulled the plug on the Challenger by 1974. We’d like to think the 1973 OPEC oil embargo had a lot to do with this, but the Challenger was indeed late to the party, as the pony car segment began to bust. Only 27,800 Challengers were sold in 1973, compared to its breakout year of 1970, selling just under 80,000 units.
The Challenger nameplate would be shelved until 1977, where it was actually a rebadged Mitsubishi Galant Lambda that was built in Japan. We won’t talk about that.
It took 25 years before the Challenger we know and love today took form. In 2008, as Chrysler seemed to be on its deathbed, it revived the muscle car nameplate, as a retro-styled coupe to compliment the Dodge Charger sedan in showrooms. 2010 was 1970 all over again, with muscle car consumers enjoying offerings from each Detroit Three automaker, between the Challenger, Chevy Camaro and Ford Mustang.
It might still be on relatively the same platform from over ten years ago, but the Dodge Challenger has only gotten better with age. Keeping the faith with its unmistakable design, and constantly adding little updates here and there – such as the GT all-wheel-drive package, and the introduction of the show-stopping Hellcat model with 707 horsepower. Then came the limited-run Dodge Challenger SRT Demon, with an uncharted 840 horsepower when on race gas.
The 2019 model year introduced upgrades to the Challenger Hellcat, boosting its supercharged output to 717 horsepower. And while Demon production was finished, Dodge revealed the 797 horsepower Hellcat Redeye, which can still be bought today. The 2020 Dodge Challenger is sure to continue this power trip.