Nicest One Left? 1982 Dodge Challenger

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Not the Dodge Challenger of yore, if you count yore as being four years prior. This 1982 Dodge Challenger is a captive import from the Dodge Boys and is based on the Mitsubishi Galant Lambda, not exactly a name that rolls off the tongue as easily as Challenger does. You would have to look a very, very long time to find a nicer example than this one, let’s check it out. Thanks to Mitchell G. for the tip!

There have been three generations of the Dodge Challenger so far, the classic muscle car version from the early 1970s, and the new Challenger made from 2008 to 2023. And then there was the oddball of the bunch: the rebadged Mitsubishi from 1978 through 1983. You already know I like these cars, being a big fan of captive imports and Mitsubishi-based Dodge products.

Plymouth offered a similar version in the Sapporo, but the Challenger is the one that raises the hairs on vintage muscle car guys and gals. Driving this car to a muscle car show would be like me riding my Motocompo to Sturgis, it may not go over well. The second-generation Challenger was slightly redesigned for the 1981 model year and lost the Colt part of the name, now being known simply as the Dodge Challenger rather than the Dodge Colt Challenger.

As with the exterior, the interior looks as close to what it would have looked like in 1982 as possible. This is easily the nicest one I’ve seen. The seller is somewhat slim on interior photos but I can’t fault them for photos since they included an engine photo. They say this time capsule has 233,000 just 23,300 miles on it, mainly due to being towed behind the first owner’s motorhome.

This is Mitsubishi’s 4G54, a SOHC 2.6-liter inline-four with 100 horsepower and 137 lb-ft of torque – basically the same engine I have in my 1980 Dodge D-50 Sport pickup. It sends power through a five-speed manual to the rear wheels and this one looks fantatsic. The seller has it listed here on Facebook Marketplace in Simi Valley, California and they’re asking $8,500. Here is the original listing. Have any of you owned one of these interesting little “Challengers”?

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  1. PRA4SNW PRA4SNWMember

    My next door neighbor in the college dorm had one of these and I have always found them to be a nice looking, kinda sporty car.

    The car will forever be dissed by most people because they can’t see beyond the name. Too bad for that.

    Scotty, thanks for the excuse to post one of my favorite car ads, again.

    Like 22
    • robert gressard

      these were bad cars. friend bought one new, as a college present in 82. thing rusted so bad that by 85′ the rear floors were gone. ridiculous. slow as a geriatric dog too. the plaid was neat though, but the seatss wore out quickly (at 50,000 miles their were rips and tears.

      Like 4
    • Rory

      233k miles. All from being dollied behind the Motorhome. But the car reflects the much lower miles due to no wear in the interior, pedals and the all original under hood has never been restored. Still drives like new. I was going to Gen 3 hemi swap it but its so unmolested and original that id rather see it goto someone who wants to just cruise it.

      Like 0
  2. HoA HoAMember

    Boy howdy, be careful what you say, huh? Meaning, these cars came up on the blue ’70 Challenger post, and shows clear as a bell how our automotive scene was changing. Mopar fans would love to forget these cars, even though, they actually were offered longer than the original. The car itself was really a nice car. I realize the irony of me saying that, even though it had some mighty big shoes to fill, I felt Mitsubishi was the best of the Asian bunch, perhaps because of its affiliation with Chrysler, but to call it a Challenger was a huge mistake. It was too much, too soon for the US public. A “Sapporo” maybe, a Challenger, never. I read Chrysler sold over 165,000 1st gen. Challengers. 2nd gen. about 14,000/year, and at a bit over $8grand, there were better cars to be had. This car told staunch loyalists, we were in trouble.

    Like 7
    • bone

      Mitsubishi was the best ??? I think Toyota and Honda had that contest easily won – Mitsubishi’s have never been known to be durable , and are likely tied for last with Isuzu in the Japanese car lines

      Like 6
      • robert gressard

        see my postt above. the onlly good thing about the car was the engine. slow as a dog but very reliable. damn engine outlasted the entire car

        Like 3
    • Car Nut Tacoma

      Although I was way too young to drive a car at the time, I remember this version of the Dodge Challenger. I thought it was way better looking than the previous (larger) version of the Challenger. I don’t know why it wasn’t as popular as earlier models. If I bought something like this, I would’ve installed a more powerful engine, maybe not a V8 engine or a V6 engine, but if there’s a 4 cyl. engine that provides more power and torque than this stock engine, I’d go for it.

      Like 2
  3. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TNMember

    Looking back forty years, these were a reflection of the rapidly changing times. They actually looked good, and had a sporty look and feel, and were actually appropriate for their day and time and market. Unfortunately, by using the name Challenger, they will forever live under the shadow of their more prominent, more popular, faster, (one can go on and on) predecessors. Plus it was…. ‘foreign.’

    [The Mustang II suffers from some of these same dynamics.]

    That said: rarely seen today, good shape, not expensive. Might be fun to own.

    Like 14
  4. Shingo

    I think the bigger issue is not in the name, but in how far Mitsubishi has fallen from it’s 70/80/90’s peak.

    Like 11
  5. Mitchell G.Member

    I mean it’s got a Hemi (four cylinder) and a stick, so…

    Like 2
  6. JDC

    People who dis these need to get over themselves… same with those that dis the Mustang II. These were the cars that the times called for. This example must have been someone’s baby, as it looks very pampered. If it were closer by, I’d take a look at it.

    Like 16
    • Car Nut Tacoma

      I agree. Same here. If I lived during the 1970s (or at least I was old enough to drive a car), I would’ve driven a Ford Mustang II. I would’ve driven a 1980s Dodge Challenger (Plymouth Sapporo). I don’t get what the problem people have with cars of the 70s. Were they perfect? Define perfect! But for the time, they seemed like cars people drove.

      Like 0
  7. Nostromo

    What a gem! One simply does not see these anymore in any kind of shape.

    Like 10
  8. Steve R

    It shouldn’t be compared to the domestic Challenger. Mopar loyalists aren’t likely to be interested. If there is a market it will be with those that are interested in 70’s and Japanese imports, which is pretty strong and growing. This car is located in the heart of that segment of the hobby (Los Angeles has a 10 million plus population) at what would appear to be a reasonable price, yet there is no interest. That wouldn’t be the case if it were a similar sporty Toyota or Nissan/Datsun. There may never develop for these and will become a value purchase for someone looking for an inexpensive car to take to shows.

    Steve R

    Like 7
  9. Steven Morrow

    The description in the Facebook ad says the car has 233,000 miles on it.

    Like 0
  10. Big C

    Did Chrysler pay Ford for the body dies of the Fox body Mustang?

    Like 4
    • DGMinGA

      I remember these and the Sapporo sibling. I agree they look like an early Fox body Mustang coupe, especially the front end. I do kinda like the wrap around rear window, the 5 speed and the fact that it is rear wheel drive. My brother owns a 2000-something Challenger. He’d probably turn up his nose at this one. Personally I’d rather have something unique than a car you can’t turn around without seeing another.

      Like 5
    • Jasper

      These came out a year before the Fox body Mustang.

      Like 5
      • DGMinGA

        Interesting. I also see some similarities with the AMCs of the late 70s to early 80s in the front facia and hood shape. From the rear/side angle, I see some Fiat X19 or Lancia Beta influence. For it’s time, it is not a bad looking little car.

        Like 3
  11. Jesse Stout

    Very nice! Great looking car! I wish I could drive it! 🙂

    Like 2
  12. Oldschoolmuscle

    Do a drive train swap and beef up the suspension and stiffen the body. drop in a wrecked newer hemi motor and just drag it on the track…. just for fun

    Like 2
  13. TWestrup

    You definitely need to read the Marketplace ad, folks!

    It’s written up as a 23,300 mile car, when the listing clearly states it’s been dragged behind a motorhome for 233K miles!!

    Like 2
    • Scotty GilbertsonAuthor

      Thanks for catching that, TWestrup!

      Like 2
  14. Nelson C

    Clearly by the 70s we had run out of names so why not reuse one from a car that a decent following but had already died off? The market is fickle and later we have people carrying a banner for something they only supported from the side lines.

    Like 2
  15. Wademo

    Always considered these throwaway cars. Amazed that there are any left, still in this condition!

    Like 1
  16. Canadian Friend

    They were probably not popular here in Quebec because I have never seen one before…
    …or maybe back then when I would see one I would mistake it for a 1981 Mustang? their front grill and its angle are identical.

    Like 1
  17. Bob

    I had a 82.. it was a fun little car and the Mca jet 2.6 did fairly well.. I did regret trading my lil Red Express in for it though. The car did right by me

    Like 2
  18. jwh14580

    Not sure what year(s) it was offered, but pretty sure this was available with the Twin-Stick option that was a 2 speed rear end (or OD Unit) that gave an economy and a power mode. Also offered in the Colt at the time.

    Like 2
    • SubGothius

      Pretty sure the Twin-Stick (2-ratio differential) option was only offered in FWD models briefly, as a stopgap to add overdrive to Mitsubishi’s existing 4-speed FWD transaxle until they could develop a FWD transaxle with a proper 5th gear. Most folks just drove those in Power mode around town and only switched the diff to Economy mode for overdrive on the highway.

      These cars are RWD, and Mitsubishi already had a proper 5-speed transmission for RWD applications by this time.

      Like 2
      • Jwh14580

        Thank you. It was a long time ago 😁

        Like 1
  19. David V.

    I had one in 1980. My first new car. Had a ball with it and as previously mentioned the engine outlasted the body. I had cops stop me because they thought it was a cool car. Insurance wise it was listed as a sports car haha. Never compared it to the old Challengers just thought it was a cool first car. Those motors were hard to kill.

    Like 3
  20. Dave in Virginia

    I had a 1979 Challenger like this one that I bought new. It was a great car and I drove it like I stole it. I sold it when I was transferred overseas in 1986. It had 142,000 miles on it and was still going strong.

    Like 5
  21. Rustomodrob

    My brother had the exact car in 1990. I borrowed it to take my girlfriend and another young couple to Bush Gardens Florida for some teen antics. 😉 I had a 76 Sedan DeVille at the time…so figured save some $$ on the gas.

    Like 1
  22. Daniel

    Already sold. I almost bought a Sapporo earlier this year but seller decided to keep it. Very rare vehicles these days.

    Like 1
  23. Steve FMember

    Bought an 81 Sapporo in ‘83. Great little car with significantly better gas mileage than my ‘77 Fury Sport 400. Never had any issues with it over the next five years. Much more of a sporty car than sports car but nice ride.

    Like 1

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