Rare Rides: The 1980 Dodge Challenger, a Galant by Any Other Name

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

Our Rare Ride today is an excellent condition example of an easily forgotten Malaise coupe from Chrysler Corp.

It is, of course, the second-generation Dodge Challenger, from 1980.

After a successful first run for model years 1970 through 1974, the big, muscle Challenger nameplate took a little hiatus. Flash forward to 1978, and Chrysler was ready to reintroduce an all-new (and very different) Challenger. This time it was leaner, greener, and Malaise-ready.

The general world climate at the time put a damper on the thirsty, large muscle cars of a few years prior. Though it was well before the DSM era, Chrysler and Mitsubishi had a strong existing relationship. The Pentastar people smelled opportunity in the air, and set their sights on the rear-drive Galant coupe.

A quick badge job later, and the captive import Dodge Challenger was ready for showrooms. Over at Plymouth, the Challenger’s brother was known as Sapporo — a name Mitsubishi used for the Galant in some markets.

In addition to the shrunken body, the Challenger lost its V8 for this generation. On offer were a couple of inline-four engines, in either 1.6- or 2.6-liter displacements. That limited power reached the road through a five-speed manual or three-speed automatic.

Though down on power and general American-ness, the Challenger was still able to stand out amongst its Malaise competitors. Its 2.6 engine made decent power (in historical context), and was praised for its smoothness. Mitsubishi engineers had pioneered and implemented new balance shafts to reduce NVH levels. And it worked.

Challenger and Sapporo would carry on with minor facelifts through the 1983 model year. At that time the Sapporo name vanished, and Challenger returned to its slumber until 2008.

Today’s Challenger is a 36,000-mile example living out its days in West Virginia. An original owner wanted his coupe to lean more towards brougham luxury than sport, so there’s a snazzy plaid interior and an automatic transmission.

This one’s probably as original as they get these days, with warning wrapper still intact on the sun visor. The seller indicates 100 percent originality, but keen observers will note paint match issues on the passenger door.

In any event, the seller is entertaining offers for his prized ride. So $18,990 or whatever ought to do it.

[Images: seller]

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.

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  • WildcatMatt WildcatMatt on Jun 08, 2018

    Given the Mustang/Mustang II downsize in '74 and the GM downsize in '77, I think people were oriented to at least some nameplates getting smaller. The slope of the rear window into the trunk is kind of funny looking to me, otherwise it's not too bad looking and generally pointy in the same way that a '79 Mustang was.

  • Rick Rick on Feb 09, 2023

    What a sad excuse for a Charger.

  • Golden2husky Have to say he did an excellent job on the C7, especially considering the limited budget he was given. I am very happy with my purchase.
  • Marty The problem isn't range; it's lack of electricity in multi-unit building parking. All you need is level 1 - a standard 120v wall socket - and if you're plugged in 10 hours overnight you get 280 miles per week or more. That's enough for most folks but you can use public charging to supplement when needed. Installing conduit circuits and outlets is simple and cheap; no charge stations needed.
  • 2manyvettes Tadge was at the Corvette Corral at the Rolex 24 hour sports car race at the end of January 2023. During the Q&A after his remarks someone stood up and told him "I will never buy an electric Corvette." His response? "I will never sell you an electric Corvette." Take that Fwiw.
  • Socrates77 They're pinching pennies for the investors like always, greed has turned GM into a joke of an old corporate American greed.
  • Analoggrotto looking at this takes me right back to the year when “CD-ROM” first entered public lexicon