Photo courtesy of Wikipedia
by Patrick Rall
The modern Dodge Challenger received upgrades for 2011 to make it one of the most powerful vehicles available in the US market, but in 1970, the Dodge Challenger Hemi R/T set the standard for high performance.
Prior to being introduced for the 1970 model year, Dodge’s top performance car was the larger Dodge Charger, which helped to introduce the 426 Hemi, but when the Challenger hit the streets in 1970, it was a very different beast from the Charger. As a nod to the importance of the original Dodge Challenger Hemi car, the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green Kentucky is featuring Mark Weymouth’s gorgeous Plum Crazy 1970 Dodge Challenger Hemi R/T ? one of the most sought after and valuable muscle cars in American motoring history.
The original 1970 Dodge Challenger focused as much on handling as it did power, with models like the 340 cubic inch-powered Challenger T/A helping the new brawny Mopar muscle car to make a name for itself on the road racing circuit. But Chrysler kept close to its drag racing heritage with the 1970 Dodge Challenger Hemi R/T. The heart of this monster muscle car was Chrysler incredible 426 cubic inch Hemi V8 ? offering 425 horsepower and a whopping 490lb-ft of torque. These numbers made the ?70 Challenger Hemi R/T among the most powerful cars on the market that year, but the fact that the Hemi was grossly underrated allowed these Hemi-powered models to make short work of pretty much any other stock car on the street.
The Hemi was mated to a standard TorqueFlight 3-speed automatic transmission sending the power to the wheels by means of a variety of sporty rear gear ratios, running as high as 4.10:1, but for the driver who wanted some gear-banging fun, there was also an optional heavy duty 4-speed manual transmission mated to a Dana 60 rear axle.
In addition to the 426 cubic inch Hemi, the 1970 Dodge Challenger Hemi R/T featured a heavy duty suspension setup to handle the added weight and power of the Hemi. Power steering and disc brakes were optional, yet not standard, and a 15? 60 series tire helped the Hemi get traction on the road and track.
The 1970 Dodge Challenger Hemi R/T featured right now at the National Corvette Museum’s American Muscle Car Exhibit is finished in Plum Crazy ? one of Chrysler’s popular ?high impact colors? of the day. The 1970 Challenger R/T offered the Shaker hood option but this model retains the standard dual scoop hood with white R/T stripes matching with the white leather interior.
The 1970 Dodge Challenger Hemi R/T was among the most powerful cars of the original muscle car era, but due to the astronomical price of the Hemi option ($1,228), only 356 examples of this awesome Hemi car were sold in 1970. The result is one of the most valuable and sought after Mopar muscle cars in American history.