Mustang vs. Challenger: The Experts at CJ Pony Parts Weigh In
Let the politicians discuss the big issues: here's a debate we can get behind! The current RWD muscle car offerings from Ford and Dodge are some of their strongest yet, ensuring years of arguments from both sides. Both offer classy retro-futuristic design and a wide range of engines to satisfy all drivers and budgets. As a leading supplier of Mustang parts for over 28 years, we're happy to give our two cents in what is sure to be a contentious debate - just don't expect an unbiased opinion!
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Mustang vs. ChallengerFord Mustang: Making Racing History Since 1964 A serious comparison between the Mustang and any other muscle car has to take into account the pioneering work done by Ford's original pony car. First introduced in 1964 as a mid-year model, the Mustang clearly articulated its goal of bringing a powerful 2 door car to the masses. Affordable, customizable and, most of all, fast, the Mustang was an immediate success, selling more than 400,000 units before the year was out. Unlike some of its imitators, the Mustang has stayed in production for more than 50 years, winning more fans with each new generation to hit the streets.
The Challenger Through the YearsThe Dodge Challenger story is one of the more unique ones in automotive history, with a number of different incarnations that date back to 1959, when the one-off Dodge Silver Challenger was introduced mid-year as a limited edition. It wasn't until 11 years later, when, in a bid to compete with the Camaro and Mustang, Dodge introduced the Challenger that would enter the popular imagination as an iconic muscle car. Produced for just four short years between 1970 and 1974, the first-generation Challenger — particularly the performance-oriented 1970 model — has since become a collector's item, with prices for well-preserved units reaching as high as $120,000.
The Challenger of TodayIn 1978, the Challenger name took a brief left turn as a rebadged Mitsubishi Galant Lamba, positioning the once-powerful coupe as a more subdued, generously appointed family car. Since then, however, the legend of the original Challenger lived on, prompting Dodge to bring the nameplate back to its performance origins in 2008. The new Charger, modeled explicitly on the 1970 R/T, was the first in over 30 years to offer an optional big block HEMI engine. In a nod to the original's racing history, in 2010, the current R/T was named as Chrysler's model for the 2010 NASCAR Nationwide Series.
Mustang Vs. Challenger: A Head-to-Head ComparisonAs of now, both Dodge and Ford are producing well-received, modern versions of their signature muscle car. Here's a look at how the two stack up today.
HandlingWith a heavier curb weight, the V8 Challenger struggles in tight corners and curves. In recent years, Ford engineers have invested heavily in improving handling, which has resulted in a far more finessed ride than ever before. While still built for speed at heart, late model Mustangs are inching ever-closer into true sports car territory.
PerformanceTesting a 2011 Challenger R/T and a 2012 Mustang GT, Carsort.com gave the Ford the clear edge on the track: the Mustang was faster to 60mph by a full 1.5 seconds, aided by an engine outputting 412 HP @ 6500 RPM, versus the Challenger's 376 HP @ 5,150 RPM.
CultureWhile numbers don't lie, you can't have a full picture of either vehicle without considering the intangibles. First introduced in 1970, the Challenger has been described as "a rather late response to the ponycar wave the Ford Mustang had started." To its true believers, the Mustang remains the original American muscle car, and that's a history that can't be denied when you step behind the wheel.
Looking to the FutureWith Ford set to release an all-new pony in 2014, is it time to end the Mustang vs. Challenger debate for good? While Dodge hasn't yet announced any plans to revamp their still-popular seller, if history is any indication, it won't be long before the Challenger responds with a competitive new take on the muscle car.
Let's face it, the Mustang vs. Challenger debate isn't one that's likely to be settled soon. As long as both Ford and Dodge continuing to refine their muscle car options, whichever side of the fence you sit on, it's an exciting time to be a driver!