Muscle Car Head to Head: Pontiac GTO vs. Dodge Challenger

Muscle Car Head to Head: Pontiac GTO vs. Dodge Challenger

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.

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