While the Charger is the muscle car most highly regarded
today, the Challenger remains a close runner up and, like
its predecessor, was available as a R/T model in both
2 door coupe and convertible configurations.
As with all
such American cars, the 'base' engine was an in-line six-cylinder
unit, but the most exciting of the V8's, and the one which
most people bought, was the 426ci 7 liter 'Hemi'.
And naturally it was the R/T model that most lust after
today - particularly because it used instruments mounted
well forward and recessed into the bonnet panel. In 1971,
and to satisfy drag racing fanatics, there was also a
Challenger T/A model, fitted with larger rear tires, side
exhaust pipes with megaphone ends and fresh air scoops
feeding the carbys mounted on the bonnet.
The T/A also
had bonnet quick release pins, upgraded suspension, a
rear spoiler, blacked out grille and bonnet panels.
Of course the Americans immediately knew that T/A stood
for Trans Am, a popular racing series being held in the
US at that time. But as the Challengers rivals underwent
continued improvement and modification, it became obvious
to many purchasers that it was merely a Charger with a
face lift, and an ever heavier one at that.
In 1971 Dodge dropped the optional 7 liter Hemi, which
pretty much sounded the death knell for the car.
the fierce competition and lack of a 'muscle car' engine
option, the sheer beauty of the original design would
see production struggle on for another 3 years until it
was finally dropped altogether in 1974.