With a history that goes back to the early parts of the 20th century, Dodge is one of the few quintessential all-American car brands, and it’s recognized all over the world. Although the company has always offered a good variety of vehicle types, its sports cars are arguably the most legendary Dodge cars of all time — and for good reasons.
A Brief History of Dodge
The company was founded in 1900 in Detroit by brothers Horace and John Dodge and was initially a component manufacturer for the city’s other big car brands. After 13 years of learning all there is to learn about vehicle manufacturing, the two brothers finally decided to make their own cars, and the first Dodge vehicle, the Model 30/35, was born. Their decision proved to be a successful one, with Dodge being ahead of its time when it came to body construction, engines, transmissions, and other vital components.
Fast forward a few decades to the 1950s, and Dodge was one of the companies that were leading the automotive revolution, introducing its first Hemi V-8 engine and many of the tech features that we take for granted today, like automatic transmissions, electronic fuel injection, and power steering. The new engine and rapid technological improvements enabled Dodge to enter stock car racing, and the move proved to be a success in more ways than one. Not only did they successfully compete, but the idea of racing cars that were designed for road use was taking shape.
The 1960s and 1970s were the muscle car era, and the influence of stock car racing and drag racing on street cars was becoming more and more evident. It was during this time when arguably the two most famous sports cars in Dodge’s history were born: the Challenger and the Charger.
Why Are Dodge Sports Cars Special?
Sports cars have changed a lot in the past few decades, but most customers are looking for the same appealing features as they were in the muscle car era. The aggressive design of Dodge muscle cars is usually the first thing that stands out. Their unique look, with wide fender flares, gorgeous design lines, and menacing-looking hood scoops, is well-known to any automotive enthusiast. Even the newest Dodge muscle cars are designed to pay tribute to their ’60s and ’70s predecessors. This blend of classic and modern design is usually hard to get right for a car manufacturer, but Dodge has done it to perfection.
Another distinctive feature of Dodge sports cars is their Hemi engine. First introduced on a Dodge in 1953, this engine initially had a power output of up to 140 horsepower. Years of technological advances have gradually improved the Hemi to the point that contemporary models can produce up to an amazing 707 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque.
The Charger is one of Dodge’s most legendary sports cars. It was first introduced as a show car in 1964 and entered full production two years later. Although it wasn’t a hit from the very beginning, it paved the way for the hugely successful second generation that was launched in 1968. The car’s shape, with a wide body, wide wheels, and undivided front grille, and its powerful engine made it a legendary car that is still admired today.
Unlike classic two-door muscle cars, the latest generation of the Dodge Charger is a four-door sports sedan. Despite this change, the splendidly designed shape, aggressive styling features, and powerful engines keep the Charger’s reputation as a no-nonsense sports car intact, making it the best choice for drivers who want the beauty and power of a muscle car and the convenience of a roomy four-door vehicle.
Not only is the modern Charger a stylistic throwback that reminds car lovers of the days when muscle cars ruled the streets of the U.S., but it also drives like a classic muscle car. Drivers have several engines to choose from, and even the most basic packs 292 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque — more than the top engine choice on many sedans. Those who want to experience everything the Charger has to offer need to go for the SRT Hellcat Redeye trim and its supercharged V-8 engine, which produces an astonishing 797 horsepower and 707 pound-feet of torque.
The Challenger was introduced a few years after the Charger, hitting the market in 1970. Although the 1970s oil crisis meant that manufacturers could no longer build huge, gas-guzzling, no-compromise engines, Dodge managed to maintain high power outputs, with the 1970 Dodge Challenger T/A’s Hemi engine producing up to 425 horsepower. Stylistically, although the Challenger resembles other muscle cars of its time, its distinctive lines, body, and front grille are typical of a Dodge.
The modern-day Dodge Challenger succeeded in taking all major design elements of the 1970 original and giving them a modern look, with the result being nothing short of spectacular. Initially launched in 2008, it appealed to a new audience of sports car enthusiasts. Yearly updates keep it fresh, making it the top choice for those who want a modern car with a classic look and feel.
The Challenger is also a sporty muscle car in every trim, with the least powerful engine still packing 303 horsepower and 268 pound-feet of torque. The SRT Super Stock trim comes with the top engine choice, which produces up to 807 horsepower and 707 pound-feet of torque, as well as special Nitto tires and modified brakes, essentially turning the Challenger into a street-legal drag-racing vehicle. Its spacious and comfortable interior means it can also be used as a regular city car, as opposed to other incredibly powerful vehicles that are not comfortable in regular traffic conditions.
The history of sports car manufacturing is deeply connected to the Dodge brand. From early midcentury sports cars to modern beasts like the Charger and the Challenger, Dodge managed to constantly push automotive boundaries and make well-built and comfortable cars that also appeal to those who enjoy driving and want to feel the thrill of an open road from behind the wheel of an engineering masterpiece.
Image via Flickr by Spanish Coches