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First Coast Gears: Challenger Rallye Redline And A History Lesson

6:57 PM, Apr 6, 2012   |    comments
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Challenger, Camaro, Mustang. These three have been associated with big, powerful, gas sucking V8s since first doing battle in model year 1970.

Historically, the V6s often came with a penalty in the style and handling departments because of smaller wheels, softer suspensions and lower-end materials. To get the complete package, you had to include that V8 checkbox. That's where the new Dodge Challenger Rallye Redline changes the equation.

It packs V8 attitude into a V6 that gets 27 miles per gallon. The casual observer might actually mistake a Rallye Redline for an SRT8. It starts with Black Chrome 20-inch wheels with a redline lip, a performance suspension and wider P245/45R20 Firestone Firehawk all-season performance tires and Redline Red exterior striping. 

At 305 horsepower, the V6 has more grunt than some of the V8 variations of the 1971-1974 Challengers. The Rallye Redline has another popular V8 trick: a cold-air induction system and dual exhausts from the headers back to the exhaust tips.  

The monotube shocks are 42 percent firmer in front and 22 percent firmer out back. Larger anti-sway bars help round out the handling upgrades, along with larger disc brakes. 

Interior upgrades start with the Radar Red Nappa leather interior and die-cast zinc steering-wheel mounted paddle shifters and a Mopar Chrome plated auto shifter.

If there's one major letdown, it's the transmission.  The Challenger is still stuck with a five-speed automatic while the V6 Charger gets the new ZF eight-speed.

But pricing helps put it into perspective. The Rallye Redline starts at $28,745 while an SRT8 392 checks in at $44,995.

A brief look at the Challenger's history

Most Mopar fans probably think 1970 was the first model year for the Challenger, but it was actually 1959. The Dodge Silver Challenger was the first Dodge to carry the nameplate.  It was a mid-year, limited-edition two door that was available for one model year, according to Wikipedia. It was based on the Coronet sedan and upgraded with white wall tires, luxury interior and plush pile carpet.  It was only available in sliver, coming with either a "Red Ram Hemi" V8 or a Flathead "Getaway" six cylinder, according to carlislejohnny.com.

The 1970-74 Challengers are the best known and what stylists based the current Challenger's look after.  The convertible was only available in 1970 and 1971. The 1970s Challenger came with an incredible number of engine and option choices.  According to Wikipedia's count, at least 11 engine configurations were available.

If I could choose, I'd grab a 1970 R/T convertible with the 440 CID Six-Pack and four-speed manual.  Production peaked in 1970 with 76,935, dropping to 11,354 by 1974, according to Wikipedia. 

There was also a third generation (if you count the '59 as the first generation) that most Mopar fans would just as soon forget. From 1978-1983, a Mitsubishi Galant Lambda coupe was rebadged in the U.S. as a Challenger. 

The current generation was launched in 2008 and sales have climbed each year since its release. Last year, 39,534 Challengers were sold in the U.S., according to Wikipedia, proving a big, powerful and stylish two-door can still grab the hearts and pocketbooks of many automotive enthusiasts. 

Upcoming Car Shows

The Automotive Addicts Cars and Coffee show will be held Saturday, April 14, from 9 a.m. until noon at Wild Wing Cafe, 4555 Southside Blvd., Jacksonville.  More information at automotiveaddicts.com.

The Bring on Spring Pontiac Car Show will be held April 28th from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. at River City Marketplace, 13141 City Station Drive, Jacksonville.  It's sponsored by the Dixie Chapter Pontiac Club and is open to any Pontiac, Oakland, or GMC.  For more information visit the Dixie Chapter Pontiac Club's website.

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