Imported Muscle: 1979 Dodge Challenger

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Anyone remember these? There was that weird point in time when it seemed like Chrysler was putting more Mitsubishis on the street than its own cars. This 1979 Dodge Challenger here on eBay may wear a famous name, but it was hardly the tarmac-ripping muscle car that came before it. 

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This Mopar product hails from the era when manufacturers were under the gun to demonstrate a commitment to improving fuel economy. In that regard, I can say we’ve come a long way by actually producing fuel-efficient cars that are somewhat unique and fun to drive. The Challenger was effectively a re-badged Mitsubishi Galant Lambda, which is about as exotic as it sounds.

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One area where these Mitsubishi clones livened things up was the interior. The Challenger here retains its original plaid patterns though the driver’s seat looks a bit worse for the wear. Truth be told, this wasn’t a bad package on paper: 5-speed manual transmission, disc brakes, and a generous gauge package for keeping an eye on engine vitals.

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The seller claims that this particular Challenger has only 33,000 original miles and was the last one sold new in Alabama. I’m not sure how you validate this claim or what it adds to the vehicle’s prominence, but given there’s already seven bids with six days left, I’m guessing more than a few people consider it special regardless of production numbers. Would you take this oddball out of Alabama?

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Comments

  1. angliagt

    Thanks – but I’m holding out for a mint Sapporo.

    • Jeff Staff

      Let us know when you find one. ;-)

  2. Dan h

    Aw, what a cute little doggy! Oh, there was a car for sale?

    • Jeff Staff

      I, too, thought the dog looked like a fun ‘lil scamp.

  3. junkman Member

    Turd by any name.

    Like 1
  4. Scotty G

    Needless to say, I like it. The interior looks like was a Moth’tel 6 for quite a spell (as they say in Alabama) and replacement material may be hard to find. These captive imports are about on par with their Japanese counterparts as far as being hot right now. Plus, they could have an added bump in that Dodge / Chrysler-product collectors may want them for the unusual factor, whereas they would most likely never want a Mitsubishi-badge product. If this goes for $1,000 it’ll be a great deal.

    • Jose Banuelos

      Hey guys I but the car and restore the seat original fabric and repainted same original color and trim is fun to ride.

  5. Glen

    It doesn’t mention if it runs. It could be a cheap driver, just get some seat-covers. Rear wheel drive and a standard trany, might be a fun drive.

  6. Howard A Member

    A mere shred of what a “Challenger” was. I remember being so disappointed what the Challenger had become( after being one of the most respected super cars) I never even gave these a look see. At the time, they didn’t seem like anything special, just another Asian car with a fancy American name ( to try and sucker the public) These were good cars ( although serious rusters, as with most Asian cars) but to call this a Challenger, was pure blasphemy.

  7. JW454

    Just contact the guy who made the suits for Speck Rhodes. He’d have some fabric that would match those seats.

    • Scotty G

      Ha! Or, any used car dealer.. (Sorry, I shouldn’t keep that old stereotype going. Now, they all wear polo shirts and tan chinos; not to stereotype, again)..

  8. Gary I

    Good representation for what was going on in the market at the time. Someone could put it in a collection as a look at where things ended up in 1979. Cars were pretty so so at the time and this screams it.

  9. Steve

    I’ve got my money on the dog being faster in the quarter mile.

  10. George

    I knew a few people who had these back when they were new and also hitting the used market. I don’t know if it was selective quality or what, but I did know more than a few that blew head gaskets at around 60K.

  11. George

    That’s one heck of a dent on the passenger door. Did someone lean against it? I like big butts…

  12. Eric Dashman

    First, let me say that I love this site and appreciate everything you guys are doing. I even gave thought to your offer to write for the site (but don’t want the pressure to deliver on a deadline).

    Now for my little nitpick: I believe that you mean ‘provenance’ as opposed to ‘prominence’…since this car would low on the list of cars with the latter adjectival descriptor. Given the provenance of the “Challenger” appellation used by Chrysler, it’s truly sad that they applied it to this Mitsubishi product (not to knock Mitsubishi, who make very nice cars for the most part). How about the Dodge ‘Foreigner’ or ‘Alien’ or ‘Brother From Another Planet’ instead?

    Anything to help improve the site :-)

    • Jeff Staff

      You caught me – obviously, the incorrect word. My editor from my newspaper days would be ashamed. I’ll keep a sharper eye in the future.

      Thanks,

      Jeff

  13. William H

    I honestly don’t recall these cars at all which is odd. Not even a glimmer of a memory of these things being on the road.

    It’s certainly a quirky looking little car but something about it appeals to me. Doubt it’s much of a performer but I bet it’d be fun to turn it into a nice little sleeper with a modern Mopar drive train. It would definitely be a conversation starter at the local car nights.

  14. Wayne Thomas

    Just swap in a newer EVO engine and you’ve got quite the sleeper.

  15. Creekerdad

    Had the Sapporo twin to this vehicle and was 100% satisfied with it. Good gas mileage compared to 74 Dodge Dart that I had been driving…. unless it was raining and the Dodge wouldn’t run at all :), lots of features, bought it right, sold it even better when I didn’t need it.
    I never had 1 issue with this little gas sipper.
    Someone should rescue this from it’s current sorry condition!

  16. Little_Cars Alexander Member

    This is the second write-up in as many weeks where the word “provenance” appeared as “prominence” or “providence.” Don’t let spell check dominate your editorials, guys. And please, let us only apply provenance when the vehicle in question is deserving of three syllable descriptors! A 79 Mitsubishi? Back row at the wholesale lot IMHO.

  17. PhxBarbie

    Pretty sure I’d rather poke myself in the eye with a sharp stick than look at this car. There’s a reason I purged this car from my memory banks… Now I’m going to have to try and forget it again as quickly as possible. Argh!!!😬

  18. Andrew

    Yes I remember these in Europe, back late 1970’s, early ’80’s. They were the most expensive Mitsubishi’s on the market, called ‘Sapporo’. The European models did not come with the rear window louvers. My dad bought a Galant Sigma, and probably couldn’t afford this model at the time. It was new and hot looking. Cool find.

  19. taxijohn

    Good looking car. I’d have it, but i’m in the uk!

  20. Jay

    I owned a 1979 that looked just like this except the interior. It was a nice car, just thought that it was way underpowered.

  21. KyleK

    I love it when people take interior pics through the side windows. E for effort.

  22. Bryan

    I bought a used 78 Dodge Challenger that looked just like this one. I liked the looks of the car, the orange color, and well appointed interior (dual electric mirrors in 1978). The plaid upholstery was not common even in the late 70’s. The 2.6 Mitsubishi 4 cylinder sucked; it seized up on the interstate not long after I bought it.

  23. ToniM

    I remember when these came out. My dad showed me a picture and I recall my response being “That’s not a Challenger.” I was eight at the time. I still stick with what I said when I was eight. We had a 74.Not the most desirable year either, but it was a REAL Challenger at least.

  24. Al K

    These were sold in Australia as a Mitsubishi Scorpion and could be had with a turbo 2litre

  25. BMW/Tundra guy

    You know how to tell a Chrysler is a Chrysler?
    It’s dead on the side of the road.
    You know how to tell a Chrysler is a Mitsubishi?
    It’s smoking so bad that you cannot see the Chrysler Chrysler sitting dead on the side of the road!!
    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!SMOKING KILLS IN MORE WAYS THAN YOU THOUGHT!!!!!!!!!!!

  26. Brent Glynn

    This was my car I bought it for 600 and sold it to this guy for 2200. It is not the last car sold.in alabama..lol it was.actually bought out if mississippi. Mileage is correct though. It was a fun car.

  27. Brent Glynn

    More photos proving this is the same car

  28. Guy

    I actually bought this same car and color combination back in 1979. Drove it for over 100,000 miles then traded it in for a 1983 Plymouth Sapporo which is basically the same car. Loved the car but you are all right that it is not the Muscle Car that the original Challenger was. Still it was great on gas and pretty nimble in turns. Both my Challenger and my Sapporo were 5 speed manual transmissions. the only way to go with this car as the horse power was little anemic.

  29. Michael

    My first car was a Challenger identical to this when I was 17…. my grandpa gave $400 for it… I wish I had it back… it was a fun little car… I also had an 81 same color

  30. Ryan Hilkemann

    I think it would go nicely with my 1979 plymouth arrow pickup. Has a surprising amount of the same parts. Also a good high school runner.

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