Hooniverse Obscure Muscle Car Garage – The 1959 Dodge Silver Challenger

Dodge-Silver-Challenger.jpg (699×316) - Google Chrome 4182014 102616 PM.bmp The Muscle Car has been a staple of Dodge for quite some time, starting with the 1953 and 54 Dodge Red Ram “Baby Hemi” that has a small but loyal following among the early Dodge fanatics, then burning through the late 50’s with the Dodge D-500, the small yet powerful Max Wedge Cars from the early 60’s, the awesome Hemi Powered bruisers of the late 60’s, and even the powerful 440’s of the early 70’s. There were storied Dodge models throughout this period including Polara, Dart, Charger, Coronet, Super Bee, and Daytona. However, did you know one of the most recognizable Muscle Car Nameplates is actually much older than any of these models? It was a mid year model, introduced in May of 1959, and though it wasn’t at all successful when introduced, that nameplate is still in use today. Introducing the 1959 Dodge Silver Challenger… RARE All Original 1959 Dodge Silver Challenger  eBay - Google Chrome 4182014 103750 PM.bmp The Dodge Silver Challenger was introduced to the public by a rather ordinary press release in which it stated:

DETROIT–The “Silver Challenger” is the newest edition to Dodge Division’s line for 1959. The “Silver Challenger” features a distinctive all silver exterior color in a metallic “Lustre-Bond”, high baked enamel that may go two or three years before waxing is necessary. RARE All Original 1959 Dodge Silver Challenger  eBay - Google Chrome 4182014 103843 PM.bmp A harmonious interior treatment available only in the new models carries out the silver color theme with a silver metallic vinyl and black Manchu fabric upholstery. The door panels are trimmed in a combination of of black and silver vinyl. Black carpeting gives and added interior luxury appearance to the new model. cd1bf5dced1ac7b76fe9fd823c339e5f.jpg (736×552) - Google Chrome 4182014 101834 PM.bmp The distinctive silver color is complimented by the standard equipment white side wall tires and stainless steel wheel covers. A Dodge crown medallion on the leading edge of the front fenders adds another distinguishing touch to the new Dodge model. The striking exterior design of the “Silver Challenger” is keynoted by arched headlight “eye-brows” which curve inward and downward to the front grill. New taillights–patterned after jet-tubes–and new rear-end “control surfaces” on the fins provide a fleet, futuristic image. 1959 Dodge Challenger  Flickr - Photo Sharing! - Google Chrome 4182014 101946 PM.bmp “Silver Challengers” will be powered by either the 135 horsepower Get-Away 6-cylinder or 255 horsepower Red-Ram V-8 engine. Both engines use regular grade gasoline which permits savings averaging 80 cents on each tank of gasoline. The Red Ram V-8, a new engine for the 1959 Dodge line, is designed to extract maximum power out of regular-grade gasoline. It has a piston displacement of 326 cubic inches, and has a 9.2 to 1 compression ratio. 1959 Dodge Challenger - Page 2 - Dodge Challenger Forum Challenger & SRT8 Forums - Google Chrome 4182014 111327 PM.bmp Suggested factory retail prices at the factory, Detroit, Mich., are $2,530.50 for the 6-cylinder and $2,650.00 for the V-8, including delivery excise and handling charges and excluding state and local taxes. Optional accessories that provide added driver comfort, convenience and control features, including swing-out swivel seats, are available on the all new silver model. The “Silver Challenger” model will be launched with a nation-wide newspaper, magazine, radio, and television advertising campaign.

7532843026_d31ccfa980_z.jpg (640×353) - Google Chrome 4182014 101619 PM.bmp For our purposes, let’s concentrate on the V-8 equipped models, displacing 326 CID, and developing 255 HP. Remember, this was 1959, and the Silver Challenger was the smallest, lightest body that Dodge offered at that time. Most of the cars during this time period were offered in all bench seat interiors, but you could get the swivel bucket seat interior if you wanted. A three-speed stick was standard, but you had a choice of a two-speed PowerFlite or a three speed TorqueFlite automatic. RARE All Original 1959 Dodge Silver Challenger  eBay - Google Chrome 4182014 103912 PM.bmp This car was based on the contemporary Dodge Coronet, and these cars weighed in at 3,750 pounds (Not a lightweight by any means, but lighter than most full-sized cars today) and with 255 HP, and 350 lb-ft of torque, it would embarrass many so-called performance cars of it’s day. The car could also handle better than most of it’s peers because of Chrysler’s exclusive use of torsion bar front suspension, with extra long leafs at the rear. 1959 Dodge Silver Callenger (1).jpg - Picasa Photo Viewer 4182014 101739 PM.bmp The car is also rather understated with its exclusive color pallet, which is a far cry from the rolling jukeboxes that were being produced during this time period. This was a very good looking vehicle for the period in which it was produced. Unfortunately, it was a true sales dud, with an estimated 352 Silver Challengers built (both the 6-cylinder and the V-8 versions) before the redesigned 1960 Dodges went into production in August. 1959_Dodge_Silver_Challenger_a_Barn_Find.jpg (1024×768) - Google Chrome 4182014 103354 PM.bmp So what we have here is a true pioneer of sorts. This is the first Dodge to have the name Challenger… This was the lightest body style offered with a pretty powerful V-8… This was (probably) the first Metallic Silver colored car from Chrysler (or for any Detroit Car Maker) before 1960… But, is this an Obscure Muscle Car, and does it belong in the Garage? Let me know what you think by leaving a comment. I’m sure there will be plenty of debate on this one. 41720d1325917185-1959-dodge-challenger-59-dodge-silver-challenger-side.jpg (699×524) - Google Chrome 4182014 103507 PM.bmp [poll id=”205″] 6a00d810 (1).jpg - Picasa Photo Viewer 4182014 103242 PM.bmp Please Note: All Images are screen grabs from around the web. If you want credit for any image, please let me know in the comments section. Thank You!

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