The A131 Dodge Challenger is definitely one of the more well-hidden captive import Easter eggs from the Chrysler-Mitsubishi partnership. It, and its Plymouth Sapporo twin, are extremely rare in the US market, but now a clean an example as there ever was has surfaced in Fergus Falls, Minnesota.
In a time where it was nearly impossible to go fast, the Challenger felt faster than it was. Mitsubishi took various options from the Japanese-spec Galant Λ and offered a car tailored for the American market. A short-ratio transmission was mated to a relatively big and torquey 2.6-liter engine, which was one of the first 4-cylinders in America with a vibration-smoothing balance shaft.
While big, hairy 7.2-liter muscle car Challengers could spin into oblivion at the mere mention of cornering, the new Mitsubishi sourced car could handle its own and was still a serene ride that took America’s long straight roads with ease.
Not only could the Mitsu take a corner without flying off the road, it also could keep pace with muscle cars of the era despite having significantly less displacement. It isn’t a drag monster like namesake but in an era when the Camaro was running deep into the 17-second range, a 4-cylinder with a 18.2 wasn’t bad.
Its smaller dimensions, fewer cylinders, and comparisons with the high-horsepower Mopars of generations earlier gave Americans the impression it was cheap compact. However, in Japan it was Mitsubishi’s range topper just shy of the Debonair limousine. MMC outfitted Challengers with touches typically reserved for high-end cars, such as frameless door windows, alloy wheels, two-tone paint, and gloriously plush plaid seats. But hey, it’s still a manual transmission!
The particular specimen offered is described to be a single-owner car. The fact that it has a dealer-affixed Fergus Falls Dodge badge and is still located in Fergus Falls today backs up the claim. The seller also says it’s been “stored inside” and the fact that it’s endured nearly 40 years of Minnesota winters without turning into a pile of red dust supports that assertion.
The seller is honest about a couple of scratches and a small hole in the rear left taillight. The fact that the interior is in such good shape indicates that the 5-digit odometer’s 59,000-mile reading is accurate. Everything looks amazingly original, even down to the primitive stereo and 70s steering wheel leather.
When being compared to the of the 60s and 70s that was its namesake, it was considered a naming travesty on par with the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross by muscle car heads. A more enlightened world view actually sees the car as one of the most well-sorted luxury coupes of the early 80s, a sort of King Charlemagne of the Malaise Ages carrying over from the 1970s. At $4,500 it’s a great buy, and we hope it goes to a good home. See the full ad on Craigslist Fargo.