The early ’70s was an odd time for performance cars. The muscle car craze was dying as buyers were scared away by skyrocketing insurance costs while the switch to unleaded fuel was causing compression ratios and power to drop across the board. However, since it takes a long time to develop a car, both GM and Chrysler ended up releasing their best thought-out pony cars just as the market was turning away from them. Which one of these end-of-the-era cars was better: the last classic Dodge Challenger or the first fully developed Camaro?
1972 Dodge Challenger
Both the Challenger and Plymouth Barracuda moved to the E-platform in 1970, mixing together compact A-body and mid-size B-body parts to create longer, wider cars that could hold any engine coming out of Chrysler. Early on, that meant buyers had choices ranging from a slant 6 to a 426 Hemi, but by 1972, engine choices were paired down to three motors, the most powerful being the Rallye’s 340 small block, producing just 240 hp.
The Challenger’s design has often been praised as one of the best of the era, matching Coke-bottle styling with clean lines and a wide, low stance, particularly with the drop top. Unfortunately, sales were so dismal that the convertible left in 1972, leaving buyers even fewer choices from Mopar.
1970 Chevy Camaro
The original Camaro was thrown together to give Chevy an answer to the wildly successful Mustang, but by 1970, GM had enough time to release a car with a full development cycle. The result was a 1970 Chevy Camaro. A car with cleaner, Ferrari-like styling, a shorter ratio steering box, standard front disc brakes and more sound deadening. The end result was a car that felt significantly sportier and more mature.
No longer tied down by Trans Am regulations, the Z/28 got a new 351 V8 producing 360 hp while providing more low-end torque than its 5-liter predecessor, making it fast on the track and around town. Unfortunately, the planned 454 big block never materialized.
A Camaro will easily outhandle the bigger Challenger, and the Z/28’s engine has a power advantage over the 340. From an all-stock prospective, the Chevy is the clear winner.
Add modifying into the mix, and it’s a different story. A Mopar big block will easily drop into the Challenger’s massive engine bay, turning it into something that will leave the Camaro in the dust.
Powered by Facebook Comments