Chrysler was very late to the pony car party, but as is the case with many late arrivals, they made a spectacular entrance. For 1970, Chrysler introduced two new E-body cars, the Dodge Challenger and the Plymouth Barracuda.
Plymouth had been selling Barracudas since 1964, but the pre-1970 body styles never caught on like Mustangs and Camaros. The Dodge Challenger was the division’s first pony car.
Styling for both Chrysler E-bodies was a huge success. Barracuda sales almost doubled for 1970 versus 1969. Challengers outsold Barracudas 76,935 units to 50,617 –not bad for a brand new nameplate.
One factor that was keeping pony car interest high was the very popular SCCA Trans-Am road racing series. The series’ Manufacturer’s Cup was hotly contested by Ford (Mustang), Mercury (Cougar), Chevrolet (Camaro), Pontiac (Firebird Trans Am), and American Motors (Javelin). Chrysler wanted part of that publicity.
Cars had to be homologated for the Trans-Am Series with a street version. The series had a 305-cubic-inch displacement limit, but the rules allowed participants to de-stroke larger engines. Chrysler turned the already potent 340 small-block into a 303.8-ci screamer. Series cars were limited to a single four-barrel carburetor, but for the street versions, Chrysler went with the added appeal of a six pack (tri-power).
The Six Pack feature was a hit on the 1969 ½ Super Bee and Road Runner 440-6 cars, and it proved popular on the 340, too. The 340 Six Pack in the Challenger T/A and AAR (All American Racers) ’Cuda was rated at 290 horsepower. It was only available in those two limited production cars. The T/A package included heavy-duty suspension, a 3.55:1 Sure-Grip differential, front disc brakes, side exit exhaust, E60x15 front tires, G60x15 rear tires, and the choice of a four-speed manual transmission or a TorqueFlite automatic. The heavy-duty rear springs gave the T/A a slight rake and helped clear the oversized tires and side exit exhaust.
A matte-black fiberglass hood with a unique snorkel hood scoop, hood pins, rear deck spoiler, and bold graphics helped distinguish the T/A from other Challengers. Oddly enough, the front fender graphics said “340 Six Pak” while the air cleaner said “340 Six Pack.”
If Dodge Challengers weren’t eye-catching enough in traditional colors, buyers could opt for one of the High-Impact colors: Plum Crazy, Sub Lime, Hemi Orange, Go-Mango, and Top Banana. Two late additions were Green-Go and Panther Pink. Less than one hundred 1970 Challengers were ordered with code FM3 Pink Panther paint. That makes Joe Seelye’s T/A incredibly rare. The crowded data plate on Joe’s car includes FM3 (Panther Pink paint), H6XW (white interior), and V1W (white vinyl roof).
Dodge Challengers got a late start (and didn’t have the extensive backing of other brands) in the Trans-Am Series, but Sam Posey still managed to place Dodge fourth overall. More importantly, the Challenger T/A was a very well balanced performer that proved Mopars could handle curves as well as going fast in a straight line.
1970 Dodge Challenger T/A
Owner: Joe Seelye
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