Dodge rumble returns
June 30, 2006
BY MICHAEL ELLIS, JOE GUY COLLIER and MARK PHELAN
Muscle car fans, a classic ride silenced since 1974 will roar back to life this weekend.
Chrysler Group is preparing to announce before the Pepsi 400 NASCAR race in Daytona Beach, Fla., on Saturday that it will build the Dodge Challenger, bringing to market as soon as next year a sports coupe to compete against the Ford Mustang.
Chrysler officials haven't announced details, but people familiar with the plans confirmed that the two-door, four-seat concept Challenger unveiled in January at the North American International Auto Show will go into production.
Chrysler built the Challenger for only a few years, 1970-74, but the car made a lasting impression.
The concept version's styling borrowed heavily from the classic 1970 Challenger muscle car, with twin hood scoops and a pistol-grip shifter. The concept is powered by a 6.1-liter Hemi V8 producing 425 horsepower through a six-speed manual transmission.
"Every NASCAR fan in the country will be drooling over that car," said Erich Merkle, an auto analyst with IRN Inc. in Grand Rapids.
This comes as somewhat of a surprise to me, Dodge beating Chevy to the punch. As I stated on here recently, all signs point to an announcement by Chevy in the very near future. Hot Rod magazine even reported in a caption in this months issue that it was a go, though nothing official has been released. A quote from Bob Lutz in regards to the Challenger having 25 hp more than the Camaro concept stated "If the Dodge Challenger's 25 horsepower advantage over the Camaro becomes a problem, I would just reply that we have a certified 100 more on tap from the Z06 engine, should the need arise."
Now conisidering the Challenger will likely tip the scales at over 4,000 lbs, where as the Camaro will likely be around the 3,500-3,600 it has been at for years, I don't foresee 25 hp being an issue. That being said, I feel it would be a damn shame if they did not drop a ZO6 in and offer a specialty vehicle. Possibly reserving it for the Z28's only, once again making a unique engine only available in Z28's like the 302 from back in the day. Offer the base engine in the SS versions, and create an RS version that is something more than cheap ass looking ground effects.
The muscle car wars are back, only this time they get 3x the gas mileage while putting up as much or more in terms of power. I think it's about time I start setting aside some money for a down payment on a Camaro.
Here is another article that was in The Detroit News.
Muscle car is reborn
Dodge Challenger is back
Josee Valcourt / The Detroit News
Chrysler is crashing the muscle-car party with plans to build a production version of the Dodge Challenger coupe that debuted as a retro-styled concept car in January at the Detroit auto show.
The automaker plans to herald the return of the Challenger at the Pepsi 400 in Daytona, Fla., on Saturday, according to people familiar with the plans.
The Challenger concept, a rear-wheel drive coupe, drew raves from enthusiasts for its old-school looks and growling 425-horsepower V-8 engine.
"It's a pure retro car," said Csaba Csere, editor in chief of Car and Driver magazine. "It's a dead ringer for the original 1970 Challenger."
Chrysler plans to build the Dodge Challenger off the same basic chassis as its rear-drive Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger. Both of those vehicles are built in Brampton, Ontario.
That will save both money and time. The Challenger could go into production by 2008, said one person familiar with the plans.
The Challenger is returning into what may be a new golden age for American muscle cars. The Ford Mustang has become a smash hit since a redesign last year that paid homage to classic versions of the pony car in the 1960s.
General Motors Corp. is widely expected to resurrect the Chevrolet Camaro -- which went out of production in 2002 -- in the next few years.
A striking concept version of the Camaro arguably drew even more attention and praise than the Challenger at the Detroit auto show this year.
Nostalgic made-in-Detroit sports cars are coming back at time when the flagging domestic auto industry could use a little of the old magic.
Chrysler designers drew inspiration from a 1970 Challenger parked in the studio as they created the concept version. Designers hewed closely to the original version but filed off some of the rough edges and added bigger wheels and a more refined interior. The concept sits on a 116-inch wheelbase, six inches longer than the original. And it's two inches wider, making it appear more squat and tough.
"The historical significance of the Challenger takes it back to the days when the Big Three dominated the highways," said Erich Merkle, an analyst with IRN Inc. in Grand Rapids, who has closely followed the Challenger program. "The design represents a place where Japanese competitors can't follow."
Chrysler's top sales and marketing executive, Joe Eberhardt, has said in the past that a production version of the Challenger could be priced slightly higher than the Ford Mustang, which has a starting price of between $19,000 and $26,000 depending on engine choice and other options.
"One of the keys for Challenger will be pricing," Csere said. "It can't be priced too much higher than the Mustang or they won't be able to reach the sales volumes they need."
Merkle said he expects that the Challenger will only be offered with a V-8 engine, unlike the Mustang, which comes with both a V-6 and a V-8 option. He believes Dodge will sell about 30,000 to 35,000 Challengers beginning in late 2008.
"Essentially it will be a specialty vehicle," he said.
Detroit News Business Editor Mark Truby contributed to this report. You can reach Josee Valcourt at (313) 222-2575 or email@example.com.