Battle of 1982: Dodge Challenger Vs. Ford Mustang
With similar proportions and price points, which legendary sport coupe was the better buy in 1982?
Everyone looks back on the Fox Body Mustang with rose-colored glasses. But nobody seems to remember those awful days from 1979 to 1983 when the Fox Mustang was terrible. Don’t take that as a slight against Mustangs — all cars were fairly bad at doing car things in the early ’80s, as the MotorWeek Retro Review above reminds us.
Ford had a quartet of engines available in 1982: an 86-horsepower 2.3-liter four, an 87-horsepower inline six, the 120-hp 255 V8, and the return of 302-ci GT with a massive 157 horses. While the GT was powerful enough that it could likely fare decently against Dodge’s Mitsubishi-based Challenger, the 4-cylinder and 6-cylinder variants — and likely even the 255 V8 — would get swallowed alive.
CHECK OUT: What Forum Members Are Saying About This Classic Match-up
Furthermore, pre-facelift Fox Body Mustangs feature truly awful interiors. The gauge clusters are slabs of hard plastic. The seats are hardly supportive enough to warrant use. The Dodge, hardly better, at least looks nicer with some soft-touch surfaces and a more modern design. The steering wheel’s two-spoke design is oddball, but it’s a nicer-looking piece than the Mustang’s hardline four-spoke. The hatchback Mustang would certainly hold more luggage in the roomy back-end, but comparing notchback for notchback, the Challenger’s flat-load floor is nice and wide. And it seems unlikely that MotorWeek‘s four-piece luggage would have fit in the Fox notch.
As far as performance goes, the rebadged Mitsubishi Galant Lambda offered a more engaging driving experience. Both cars are far-too floaty and wallowy to be considered “sporting coupes” by today’s standards, but back in the day, they handled reasonably well. Both suffered from light rear-end cornering and stick axles, but were light enough to be hustled around a corner or two without falling flat.
If anyone has a perfectly-stock 1982 Challenger and Mustang, we’d love to hear your comparison notes. Or perhaps you wouldn’t mind loaning them to us?