The golden era of the American muscle car created some truly legendary
names in automotive history. Among them were two names that remain famous
even today: the Pontiac GTO and the Dodge Challenger. On this blog, we’ll
take a look at these two famous muscle machines and compare them head-to-head.
Pontiac was always renowned as a company that wasn’t afraid to try
things. Founded by General Motors back in 1926, it eventually took over
and supplanted the company’s Oakland brand name. While Pontiac was
known for engineering feats and distinctive styling choices, the car they
truly became known for didn’t come around until several years had passed.
The GTO actually got its start as an option package for the Pontiac Tempest,
but by 1966 the GTO became its own standalone model. In 1972 and 73, it
once again went back to becoming an option package for the Le Mans and
then in 1974 for the compact-sized Pontiac Ventura. So in reality, the
GTO in its heyday was only produced from the years 1966 to 1971, making
them one of the rarest classic muscle cars still on the market. Pontiac
gave the GTO another limited run in the mid-2000s, but the vehicles disappeared
with the Pontiac brand after General Motors declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy
and was forced to reorganize.
Dodge, on the other hand, is a brand that’s still going strong today,
and the Challenger is the name that put them on the map in terms of muscle
cars. First introduced in 1969, the original Challenger was intended to
be Dodge’s entry into the exploding “pony car” market
started by, you guessed it, the Ford Mustang. Despite the fact that it
was popular with consumers for its immense number of options, its late
arrival coupled with the declining pony car market meant a fairly short
lifespan for the first generation, ending production in just 1974.
Dodge revived the Challenger name just four years later for the 1978 market,
but they were far from the muscle car classics that built it. It wasn’t
until the 2008 model year that the Challenger came back to life in the
modern adaptation of the original classic that we’ve come to know today.
When you think of muscle cars, you think of a big-block V8 engine, and
these two were no exceptions. The Pontiac GTO’s first generation
came with two different engines: a 389 cubic-inch, 6.4 liter V8, and then
a 400 cubic-inch 6.6 liter V8 starting in 1967. The second-generation
saw an even bigger 7.5 liter 455 cubic-inch model hit the market, creating
360 horsepower with 500 foot-pounds of torque at 2,700 RPMs—numbers
that many vehicles still can’t match today!
The mid-2000s GTOs were produced by Holden in Australia, another subsidiary
of GM, and contained one of two LS engines: a 5.7 liter V8 that produced
350 horsepower and a 6.0 liter V8 that produced 400 horsepower.
The Dodge Challenger’s engine options were extremely numerous. Even
though the first generation only lasted five model years, the car came with
eight different engine models, ranging from a 198 cubic inch slant-six to a
440 cubic inch, 7.2 liter V8. These options included a 426 cubic-inch
Hemi V8, a name which Chrysler and Dodge have long been synonymous with.
The 1970 Hemi engine produced an incredible 425 horsepower, one of the
highest power outputs of the day. However, these engines are tough to
find today as very few of them sold due to the extra $1,228 it added to
the sticker cost.
Today’s Dodge Challengers also has an abundance of engine choices,
ranging from a 3.5 liter V6 (now a 3.6L in today’s models) all the
way up to a 6.4L Hemi V8. However, Dodge and Chrysler are continuing to
push this model to even greater extremes. In 2015, Dodge introduced the
Challenger SRT Hellcat, an ultra-high-performance model which sports a
6.2 liter V8 that produces 707 horsepower and has a 0-60 time of 3.6 seconds.
The top speed? 202 miles per hour. And it’s street legal.
Finally, Dodge has gone a step further still, producing an extremely limited
run of SRT Demon models, which feature an all-new 6.2-liter V8, complete
with a 2.7 liter supercharger. Using regular premium fuel from your local
gas station, it can output 808 horsepower, but with 100 octane or higher
fuel, it can produce 840. Dodge has announced they’ll only produce
3,300 of these vehicles.
If you own a Pontiac GTO or a Dodge Challenger and want help turning it
into the speed machine of your dreams, turn to the experts at HP Motorsports!
Call us at (281) 231-9950 to learn more today.