Here’s an in-depth look at the 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T Convertible

Today’s younger generation of car enthusiasts are lucky enough to live in a timeline where the legendary Cleverness Challenger has always been available. But prior to 2008, gearboxes really only had one choice when it came to the Challenger; the first generation, produced from 1970-1974.

Because while technically a second generation was built from 1978-1983, it’s a place in time that Mopar fans usually ignore, as the second generation Challenger was literally a rebadged Mitsubishi Galant. Chrysler’s tendency to implement facelifts much too early in a production cycle also hampered the second half of the original Challenger’s life, making the 1970 and 1971 models the most sought after.

Consumers’ buying habits and lack of interest in convertible muscle cars also mean the drop-top Challenger struggles, not even selling 1,000 units in its first year of production, compared to the R/T Hardtop’s 13,796 units sold . But as history has proven time and time again, the least desirable option during production tends to become everyone’s favorite over time.

Whether it’s an enthusiast buying the car they idolized as a kid, or our tendency as humans to want what others can’t have; the convertible R/T has seen a huge increase in value, with recent valuations rising six digits. Join us as we take a closer look at what makes the 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T Convertible so special.

RELATED: Why the Classic 1970 Dodge Challenger Is So Expensive

Dodge’s answer to the mustang

Challenger and Mustang

In a debate as old as the cars in question, the fact remains that the introduction of the ford The Mustang changed the automotive landscape in the following decades. While the Mustang is far from a well-rounded car, it redefined the recipe for a sporty and affordable coupe that the younger generations craved.

Tired of their parents’ land hunts, the youngsters of the 1960s (still enamored with the European lifestyle) first tasted imported forbidden fruit via the Fiat 500 Abarth, Alpine A110 and Austin Mini and wanted something to call their own. Enter the 1/2 Ford Mustang from 1964. Although it was marketed as the first pony car, a feat Chrysler and its Plymouth Barracuda had been claiming for two weeks, its radical new design, economical powertrain and budget-friendly price were of $2,368 a money printing machine for the blue oval. While other brands raced to give the Mustang some competition, it took Dodge nearly five full years to release the Charger and Challenger in consecutive years.

At the height of the pony car’s popularity in 1970, the segment had become extremely saturated and drifted further and further away from the original formula, with each new car becoming heavier, more expensive and more comfort-based. Guilty of the same offenses, the Challenger was now just inches shorter than the Coronet, a four-door family saloon, and only 200 pounds lighter. After selling nearly 67,000 Challengers in 1970, Dodge would become a style decline in turnover in subsequent years. Production finally ceased in 1974, due to the gas crises and the availability of economically friendly imports.

RELATED: Here’s How the 1970 Dodge Challenger Compared to Its Rivals

Available options, you say?

Dodge 383 Hemi V8 engine
Via: YouTube

When the Challenger was released in 1970, the automotive industry was in the middle of the latest trend: available upgrades. The endless list of comfort options, engine variants, and exterior choices offered by automakers made it exceedingly easy to take the modest $2,500 price tag off your average pony car, and nearly double the price.

Dodge was no different, offering seven different trim levels for the Challenger. With interchangeable features across the board, consumers could now choose their car according to the exact specs they wanted, including performance. With enough variants to fill a shopping list, Chrysler opened the doors to its engineering department and offered everything six engines as available options for the R/T. The most sought after are: the 383 Magnum, 440 Magnum, 440 Six Pack and of course the 426 Hemi.

The 335 horsepower the standard 383 produced was nothing to waver at, but compared to the optional engines it left a lot to be desired. The 440 Magnum saw 375 horsepower, while its six-pack sibling had an impressive 390 horsepower. But it was the 426 Hemi that will live on in glory forever. With a power output of 425 horsepower and a staggering 490 lb-ft of torque, the Hemi has a place on the Mount Rushmore of pony car engines, alongside GM’s 454 big block and Ford’s 427 Cammer.

Other R/T options included a Rallye instrument panel that reached 150 mph, 8,000 rpm, an oil pressure gauge and the famous shakerhead scoop.

Previously mentioned, the bare interior of the original pony cars was a thing of the past and as the years progressed, consumers would soon find power windows, climate control and even a radio in their muscle cars.

But by 1970, buyers shifted their focus from racing cars masquerading as economy cars to more economical or luxurious options. Crippled by growing emissions standards and high insurance rates, muscle and pony cars quickly became a relic of the past less than 10 years after their introduction.

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