By on May 1, 2008

7.jpgIn 1970, gas was cheap, horsepower was king and Dodge introduced a slightly stretched rebodied Barracuda they called Challenger. It offered huge engines that delivered pavement-scorching acceleration. After just four model years of poor sales, The Dodge Boys pulled the plug. Fast forward 38 years. Gas is expensive; the average car buyer is more interested in fuel economy than horsepower. Dodge has introduced a slightly cut-down Chrysler LX they call the Challenger. It offers a huge engine, pavement-scorching acceleration and they've pre-sold the first 6.4K. The Detroit News– and practically every other automedia outlet– have lavished the Challenger redux with praise. But then again, the media loved the big-engined 1970 model when it first hit the market. I predict the same rapid demise for the new Challenger. There are just so many baby-boomers wanting to relive their 20s; a 34-year gap means the model has no relevance to younger buyers. Even with a V6, demand will be extremely low. In fact,should Chrysler avoid C11, I give the Challenger two years. Good for collectors, bad for Chrysler. They failed to learn from Ford's "re-imagined" Thunderbird and direct their time, talent and money into developing a small car– instead of trying to recapture past glory they never really had. Next up: the Camaro!

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61 Comments on “Dodge Challenger: The Retro-Flop Has Landed...”


  • avatar

    I wonder when Toyota will do a retro Supra, complete with “wedge” styling, and pop-up headlamps…

    or how about a retro Audi Quattro, with e-brake style levers to lock the rear and center differential locks and “we don’t do curves” styling…

    or a retro Prelude, or a retro Ford F-100, or a Vw Scirocco (oh wait…..)

  • avatar
    menno

    Cereberus was caught between a rock and a hard place. These hard boiled finance guys knew very well that the Challenger was a money loser, I’m betting, but that if they came alongside and took over the reins then pulled the plug on the upcoming Challenger, the “devotee press lap dogs” at certain car magazines would have had a field day trashing them.

    So I suspect they are using the losses on the Challenger as a tax write off under “PR expenses.”

  • avatar
    bunkie

    I owned a ’71 Challenger with a 440. It was a terrible car. I traded for a Triumph GT-6+ which was actually a better car.

    I compeltely agree that the new Challenger is doomed. As a V6 coupe, it makes no sense whatsoever and there are only so many people who want modern versions of muscle cars.

  • avatar
    skor

    They failed to learn from Ford’s “re-imagined” Thunderbird and direct their time, talent and money into developing a small car– instead of trying to recapture past glory they never really had. Next up: the Camaro!

    Yup.

  • avatar
    gamper

    I am not a huge fan of the Challenger, retro is so hit or miss, but I can see relatively strong sales initially. Agree that it holds little appeal to most younger buyers.

    The Camaro on the other hand looks thoroughly modern with hints of retro. Again, I dont see really broad appeal to younger buyers, but I think the Camaro has a better chance at sustained sales than Challenger.

  • avatar
    ctoan

    Man, juxtaposed to the old one, that thing is chunky.

    Do they need all that bulk to meet safety standards, or are Dodge’s designers just trying to be “manly”?

  • avatar
    Corto

    I’m new to this blog. It’s nice to read…the truth about cars, for a change. The Challenger has as much chance of succeeding as Ralph Nader becoming president. And that’s a good thing…as far as the Challenger is concerned at least.

  • avatar
    AGR

    Its an exceptional “halo” car for Chrysler which will be a “player” in the modern “pony car wars” between Mustang-Challenger-Camaro.

    40 years ago gas was inexpensive and the fuel economy of the versions with 400HP was horrendeous somewhat similar to today.

    It was never destined to be a volume car from the outset.

    Boomers have off springs that have been influenced by American Muscle from their parents.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    Hmmmm… I do still see a nice large opening for a full-sized luxury oriented coupe.

    But if this model has an interior like the rest of today’s Chryslers, it’s done. The interior materials that Chrysler is using for their line-up right now is simply the absolute worst in the industry. I’m willing to bet that they lost at least 100k sales on the Journey and Grand Caravan thus far due to the plasticized interiors.

    It would be interesting to see how this model compares with the Mustang. As of now there simply isn’t anything that has truly taken over the luxury side of the equation and obviously Chrysler is more interested in following a Muscle car orientation with the Challenger due to it’s history.

    As far as luxury goes, I’m willing to bet that some folks who drive the Accord and Altima coupes would disagree at this point. But I haven’t driven either one of the vehicles so I can’t say yes or no to whether they qualify. Last I heard the Accord is actually very luxurious while the Altima is more of a classic Japanese GT car (think late 80′s Supra).

  • avatar
    Redbarchetta

    This development money would have been smarter to invest in the other Dodge turds, you know the bread and butter ones like the Caliber and the rest of the sad Chysler lineup. I can’t believe how bad that car is. I borrowed a coworks just an hour ago to run down the block and I thought I was going to be killed trying to merge into traffic. My 1981 Honda Prelude was a better built better performing car, and mine was a lemon. There was something wrong with this relatively new car too, brakes or tranmission were making this odd noise.

  • avatar
    beetlebug

    Flop? Wow, I didn’t know you could determine that before it was actually on sale. Geeze, I’d think you could at least wait to the numbers backed you up.

  • avatar
    gzuckier

    yet ford keeps the mustang going. they know their stuff i guess.

  • avatar

    I’m waiting for moment when the Vanishing Point Challenger does battle with the Bullitt Mustang.

  • avatar
    rpenna

    Compete with the Mustang?

    The v6 challenger is $4000 than a v6 mustang. At that price range, that’s a 20% difference.

    The SRT8 with 370hp is slated for around $38,000. A mustang GT coupe with 300hp starts at $26,000. A GT500 with 500hp lists for $43,000.

    They’re really competing with the Mustang in spirit only. The horsepower and price differences really don’t pit any model Mustang against any model Challenger.

    The next model year will be interesting, though, since there are rumors that all Mustangs will get a horsepower boost across the board.

    I think this is one of those odd moves by Chrysler and GM that, in the end, will hurt all of them. The end result will be lower sales of all 3 muscle cars.

    As a Mustang fan though, I welcome the competition. It makes Ford have to scramble to boost horsies. In that respect, competition is a good thing.

  • avatar
    whatdoiknow1

    Man, if they had had the good sense to had made this thing back in 1989 or even the mid 90s this thing would have truely been the second coming of Traditional American Iron. The irony is there is nothing in the technology of this car that would have made it not feasible back than.

    The Challanger and the Camaro clearly highlight what is wrong with the US auto industry. It is mind boggling to consider the amount of time it has taken Chysler to bring to market a car that is basically a low tech, parts bin special based on a concept that these companies supposedly mastered 40 year ago.
    GM/ Chevy is even worse! They only stopped making F-body about a decade ago yet they need God knows how many years to bring back the Camaro to production. This is just plan bad. I get the impression that if Toyota had decide to dust off some “old tech” for a simple speciality product they would have bee able to do so in a much shorter timeframe with far less fanfare.

    The concept of these cars make zero sense today. The concept of American Muscle was to use existing platforms and parts to allow these cars to come to market for a relatively low price with the associated low cost of R&D and production.
    Once again the Doemstic are going to miss the target by a mile today. Both the Challanger and Camaro are simply too big for what the vast majority of folks are looking for. I will even include many of the muscle car enthusiast here. It is time to think outside of the box and stop listening to those few older dudes that want to relive their past and start thinking about the 20 to 50 year old male crowd that want performance cars.

    A smart company willing to gamble on this type of concept today would have designed a smaller car weighing about 1000lbs less and would have centered the design around a v6 and NOT the v8!
    I think what most American folks intersted in a car like this today actually want a G37 sized car with a real back seat. OMG, I am describing a 3 series coupe! A v8 is nice but in the early 21st century the v6 is supreme. A 300hp 3.5l v6 would have been perfect! A lighter car would have been much better suited for more economical engine choices (remember we are talking about American Bread and Butter performance here). A big honking v8 option could have been offered at a real premuim for those relatively few that actually want “super power”.

    GM and Chysler need a “real” Mustang competitor and to do so they need to understand that the Mustang’s main appeal is it has consistantly been a decent looking, low priced, personal coupe,just about the only one left in America. The Mustang GT is fine and does cater to performance crowd but it is truly the basic Mustang that has allowed this model to survive for over 40 years.
    State another way the Mustang has always been the least “Butch” out of the Pony, Muscle cars and has enjoyed a much broader appeal amoung many demographics that will NEVER drive one of these over the top Camaros or Challangers.

  • avatar
    carguy

    Ford played it smart – they got in early and kept it cheap. The Challenger’s appeal is too selective – mainly retro car crazed boomers which is not going to be enough to make much in the way of profit. It’s also a little late to the market – the retro muscle car revival is nearly over. At least they had a ready platform to work with so the R&D probably wasn’t too prohibitive.

    And as much as I like GM’s new Camaro, it will be even worse off. It will hit the market just in time for $5 a gallon gas. They may as well start planning hybrid and diesel versions now.

  • avatar
    AKM

    The mustang is a far better-looking car, IMHO, and so is the oncoming (eventually) Camaro.

    I would consider the Mustang or the Camaro if I had the money. But the challenger? Give me a VW GTI anyday!

  • avatar

    ctoan
    Man, juxtaposed to the old one, that thing is chunky.
    Do they need all that bulk to meet safety standards, or are Dodge’s designers just trying to be “manly”?

    Some of it is all the stuff needed to meet federal crash, side impact and rollover standards. Most of if it’s because the only RWD platform they had to play with was the LX that the 300/Charger is built on. They cut it down some to make the LC platform for the Challenger but it’s still too big to build a “pony car” on.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    ctoan: “Man, juxtaposed to the old one, that thing is chunky.”You got that right. Despite it’s dismal quality and ride comfort, the E-body Chryslers were good-looking cars. The 2008 Challenger, despite its ‘retro-ness’, isn’t nearly as appealing. Compared to the old car, the 2008 Challenger clearly shows its Dodge Charger roots.

    Steven Lang: “But if this model has an interior like the rest of today’s Chryslers, it’s done.”The 2008 Challenger has the exact same interior as the Dodge Charger.

    rpenna: “Compete with the Mustang? The v6 challenger is $4000 than a v6 mustang. At that price range, that’s a 20% difference.”I’m not sure the difference will be $4k. It’s also worth noting that the V6 Challenger will come with an automatic transmission as standard equipment – the Mustang gets a manual.

  • avatar
    Alex Rodriguez

    JT Jenna, the SRT8 will have 425 HP, not 380. 380 is for the R/T, which has a lower price point than the SRT8.

    My opinion on this vehicle is that it will sell at least 50K units in the 2009 Model year. The V-6 is priced at 25K, the interior is an upgrade to what Chrysler has put out there recently, even it if has a way to go, and the exterior is stunning. A base R/T with a 6 speed can be had for 30K.

    There is a reason why the magazines LOVE this car. It is because it is a Supermodel, it is eye candy, and the designers did a fantastic job of creating a car that reminds everyone what was good about the American Muscle Car.

  • avatar
    Alex Rodriguez

    The 2008 Challenger has the exact same interior as the Dodge Charger.

    WRONG. Have you even looked at the pictures of it? It has the same steering wheel, but the rest of the interior is different. Facts would be nice.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    Alex Rodriguez: “WRONG. Have you even looked at the pictures of it? It has the same steering wheel, but the rest of the interior is different. Facts would be nice.Facts they are, wiseguy. Have you seen the interior of the Charger SRT-8? Compare it with the Challenger. Same seats, steering wheel, and dash. IOW, unlike the Mustang, the exact same interior of another Chrysler product.

  • avatar
    John

    Maybe the owners of these cars will enjoy them like a lot of boat owners do: Find a prominient spot and just SIT in it.

    John

  • avatar
    thetopdog

    Since when do aggressive-looking, powerful cars not appeal to young people? Just because I was born almost a decade and a half after the heyday of the Challenger doesn’t mean I can’t, as a young guy, enjoy this testosterone machine.

    The current-gen ‘Stang is pretty retro but I don’t see that turning off any young guys from getting one. The only thing that will prevent younger buyers from getting one of these is price.

  • avatar
    whatdoiknow1

    I have a few friends that still love sneakers like Converse All-Star. At best, today these sneaker can only make a fashion statement. They offer little to no support or shock absorbtion compared to todays modern sneakers and in all honesty they are rather uncomfortable to wear for a long period of time. But nastalgia forces them to endure something old fashion at the cost of some foot pain.

    Trying to relive the good ole days of American Muscle a in many ways a joke. When I speak to regular folks that owned and drove these thing back in the days I here far different stories than what is read from some guys online. Yes, many folks do have fond memories of Muscle cars from the late 60 early 70 era. But that is it, they are just fond memories! In the same light that most people that lived though this era do not want to sport hippie wear and afros anymore they do not want to drive around is a “throwback” mobile.
    When speaking to my father and uncles about this Challanger I hear, “been there and have done that”. I think some folks are missing the point, a “Nice” Challanger is the price of a G37, a car more suitble and classy for a middle aged man. If a G37 existed back in 1970 it would have been the car people upgrade to once they outgrow their “hotrod” phase. My father jokes that he did not remember many 60 year old men tooling around in Camaros or Challangers. He stated that once your turn 35 it was time to move on to a Buick!

    Is it possible that GM and Chysler are concentrating on the wrong brands? If GM is attempting to appeal to older nastalgic dudes maybe they should have brought back the Riviera or Regal?

  • avatar
    Jonathon

    Alex Rodriguez:
    It is because it is a Supermodel, it is eye candy, and the designers did a fantastic job of creating a car that reminds everyone what was good about the American Muscle Car.

    Not really. As ctoan pointed out, this car is pretty chunky compared to its former incarnation. I guess you could say it’s a former supermodel who’s a couple decades past her peak and has let herself go.

  • avatar
    KnightRT

    Pleasant car. Well-executed, but too heavy, too big. Would it have been so difficult to make it 4/5 scale?

  • avatar
    Alex Rodriguez

    I’m looking at both interiors right now on the website:

    The seats are different, the door panels are different (softer materials in Challenger), the center console is different, the center stack is different, the guage housing is different, the dash is different, not to mention a manual and pistol shifter for the Challenger.

    How is that Identical again?

  • avatar
    Alex Rodriguez

    Not really. As ctoan pointed out, this car is pretty chunky compared to its former incarnation. I guess you could say it’s a former supermodel who’s a couple decades past her peak and has let herself go.

    Every car magazine and website, save for this one, has praised the exterior of this vehicle. The car is big, no doubt. It seats four adults, it is not a 2+2, and is built for 5 star crash ratings. To expect it to be the exact same dimensions as a 1974 Challenger is nonsense.

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    Frank: “slightly stretched rebodied Barracuda they called Challenger.”

    Technically correct, but both the Barracuda and Challenger used slightly cut-down versions of Chrysler’s mid sized Satellite/Coronet body.

  • avatar
    BabyM

    There are just so many baby-boomers wanting to relive their 20s; a 34-year gap means the model has no relevance to younger buyers.

    Not so sure the car’s appeal is all that narrow. After all, Chrysler sold lots of PT Cruisers to people who weren’t old enough to have a fond memories of their old ’36 Hupmobile.

  • avatar
    windswords

    I am posting a link that Tri-Sheild provided over on Autoblog:

    http://www.automotivetraveler.com./

    If you don’t have a closed mind, maybe you can read about someone who spent some serious time with the top dog SRT8 model. Serious like 3000 miles. Their review doesn’t have just 800 words and it’s not full of snappy prose but it does have REAL experience with the car and not a bunch of “armchair quarterback” opinions.

  • avatar
    windswords

    I have to repeat myself again but here goes: The Challenger is made at a flex manufacturing plant, the one that makes the 300 and Charger (and previously the Magnum). The Challenger is based off the 300/Charger platform so a lot of $ was saved right there. Because it’s a flex plant, they can build as ** many or as little as they need to**, they can run any mix of 300′s, Chargers, and Challengers down the line. Because of this they don’t have to devote an entire factory and all it’s overhead to the Challenger.
    In other words folks they will make money… on every one. They don’t have to produce a 100,000 of these to cover the costs of tooling, overhead, etc. So don’t expect “money on the hood” of these because if the demand isn’t there they will just build something else.

    The business case for the car was to build at least 35000 a year to make a profit and they will have NO PROBLEM doing that. When the cars run is over (new CAFE regs are a comin’) they will stop building it, but the factory will hum right along building something else, unless they want to create a new gen with much better mpg’s (don’t see how they will do that).

    And Alex is right, the interior is similar too but not identical to the Charger. And people that have actually sat in the car say the interior is nicer than the Mustang.

  • avatar
    blautens

    I think I’m the guy this car might be aimed at…40, remembers muscle cars fondly, with the income to buy it (and not worry about gas, since I don’t drive it daily). I’m certainly not wealthy, but if I drove it and liked it, I’d have no problems buying it.

    I’d still pick the Honda or Lexus as my daily driver, though, especially if I had much of a commute. But I don’t play golf, I don’t gamble, or have any other hobbies. Cars are my only “vice”.

    Problem is, I don’t know how many people like me there are. Myabe just enough for Chrysler to not take a bath on this model…maybe not. But I’m selfishly glad Chrysler built it.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Their review doesn’t have just 800 words and it’s not full of snappy prose but it does have REAL experience with the car and not a bunch of “armchair quarterback” opinions.

    The review tells me that they were able to drive it 160 mph. It doesn’t negate any of Mr. Williams’ prognostications about its likelihood to succeed in the marketplace.

    I concur that this is doomed to be a low seller. This promises to be GTO Revisited and the Son of Solstice — the initial rush and flurry of high prices will quickly die off within a year or so, once they have sold them to the few buyers who want one.

    The world has changed. There just isn’t much demand for a pricey American muscle car. The sooner that Detroit realizes this, the better for them.

  • avatar
    AGR

    From Inside Line a cool video comparison of a Mustang and a Challenger…Click

  • avatar
    Mike66Chryslers

    Frank: “slightly stretched rebodied Barracuda they called Challenger.”

    Technically correct, but both the Barracuda and Challenger used slightly cut-down versions of Chrysler’s mid sized Satellite/Coronet body.

    You beat me to it, Paul. The Challenger was slightly longer than the Cuda, but the E-body (Challenger and 1970+ Barracuda) was new for 1970 and was based on a cut-down B-body.

    It would be more correct to say, in 1970 as now, that the Challenger was made from a shortened Charger.

    I don’t understand people that say that the new Challenger is a direct knock-off of the 1970-74 Challenger but the new Camaro is somehow more differentiated from the first-gen (1967-69) Camaro.

    PS: In the picture that accompanies this article, I’ll take the red one on the left. :)

  • avatar

    The original Challenger WASN’T received that warmly by the press at the time. Car & Driver actually suggested that Chrysler’s engineers fall on their swords (ah, back in the days when they had stones). It didn’t sell that well, and a lot of its sales appear to have been at the expense of the Charger, whose sales dropped off significantly from 1969 to 1970.

    The most notable part of the original Challenger’s failure is that the Plymouth Duster, a hastily contrived fastback version of the Valiant, outsold BOTH the E-bodies by a significant margin. The Duster, which was done on a shoestring budget (and apparently largely under the radar), was cheaper, lighter, handled better, and got better gas mileage. It was easier to see out of, had more useful space, and, if you ordered the 340, was as fast as any Challenger except the 440s and Hemis.

    (The irony, of course, is that the Duster was essentially a reinvention of the ’67-’69 A-body Barracuda. Plymouth couldn’t give the ‘Cuda away, but the Duster sold like mad. Go figure.)

  • avatar

    Paul Niedermeyer

    Frank: “slightly stretched rebodied Barracuda they called Challenger.”

    Technically correct, but both the Barracuda and Challenger used slightly cut-down versions of Chrysler’s mid sized Satellite/Coronet body.

    The original Barracuda was built from Chrysler’s A-body, also used for the Plymouth Valiant and Dodge Dart. In 1970, and concurrent with the debut of the Challenger, the Barracuda was moved to the E-body platform, which was shorter and wider adaptation of the B-body (Satellite/Coronet) and considered a separate platform. The Barracuda was built on a 108-inch wheelbase variant of the E-body while the Challenger got a “slightly stretched” (when compared to the Barracuda) 110-inch wheelbase version.

  • avatar

    You guys need to get out more.

  • avatar
    barberoux

    Of course. They are niche cars that appeal to a limited audience. Even though many will salivate over a new product when people start putting out $20K+ they become much more conservative. GM and Chrysler are trying to raise hoopla with niche cars but they need big sellers to stay in business. Honda has Accord; Toyota has Camry, what does GM have? Monte Carlo? Celebrity? Caprice?

  • avatar
    bunkie

    I remember doing a double-take one day back in 1974 when I saw a Challenger with a Coronet front clip (fenders, hood, bumper and grill). It was a weird two-toned Frankenstein sort of thing. What was amazing was how well they fit together with no serious gaps.

  • avatar
    Busbodger

    Am kind of curious of where this model will go after the first round of revisions. Look at the Beetle, basically the same car except tiny details like the bumper caps. I’m sure the Mini is the same way.

    Don’t get me wrong I like retro so I’m not bashing any of these retro-cars. They at least are different from the cookie cutter modern car. They’ve got style.

    Will I buy one? No. I like them but I don’t want to feed one at the pumps.

    This is 1973 all over again – cool muscle cars in a time of rising fuel prices… VBG!

    1978 must be right around the corner again. Could it be time for the second coming of the Mustang II and the FWD Shelby?

  • avatar
    jthorner

    Indeed the Camaro seems doomed to coming out as the wrong car at the wrong time on the wrong platform. The genius of the original pony cars was that they took an existing chassis, existing drivetrains and some sexy two door coupe sheet metal with which to build cheap and cheerful fun cars.

    Now Camaro is going to be the only North American GM product built on a brand new platform. There is a reason GM killed the Camaro and Firebird several years ago, and the reasons haven’t change. The two door mid-sized coupe market remains tiny. The nostalgia buyers are getting a strong dose of reality checking thanks to a tough economy. Camaro will do well to outsell the revival Thunderbird, the just-stupid SSR or the long-forgotten Crossfire. Crossfire was aimed at the same market but without the nostalgia factor and I think you can still buy three year old new ones!

    As for the Challenger, it is doomed and will probably sell less well than the Magnum wagon did. It is also kind of creepy that Challenger was also the name of the Space Shuttle which broke up 73 seconds after it’s final launch.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    Alex Rodriguez: I’m looking at both interiors right now on the website:

    The seats are different, the door panels are different (softer materials in Challenger), the center console is different, the center stack is different, the guage housing is different, the dash is different, not to mention a manual and pistol shifter for the Challenger.

    How is that Identical again?The mere fact that you mention a manual and “pistol” (I can only assume you mean “Pistol-Grip”) shifter suggests that you’re looking at the concept car’s interior. It’s well known that all production 2008 Challenger SRT-8 are automatics. None will have a manual or “pistol” shifter. They have the standard automatic shifter and console from the Charger.

    All of the photos of the production car’s interior are the ones that are identical to the Charger SRT-8. I suggest you check some of those out first before you make any attempts at correcting anyone on the obvious similiarities between the production Challenger and Charger interiors.

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    Pretty much of the subject, but, when it comes to retro, I suggest GM produce a retro Vega! LOL

    Hey TTAC, how about this for a “question of the day” , What car would you like to see a “retro” of?

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    This thread makes me think about how Honda built their American presence on essentially 2 cars – civic and accord.

    I am not against car projects like the challenger, but I agree with many of the other posts. The domestics really need to concentrate on the meat and potatoes before spending a lot of money on how to build the best dessert.

    GM and Ford are doing better with the Bu and Fusion, they need to just drop anything else that isn’t profitable or necessary and keep improving those while upping the ante with stronger subcompacts.

    Chrysler just needs to start all over again.

  • avatar
    NickR

    That’s not a 70 Challenger…it’s either a 73 or a 74.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    I politely asked the rather attractive model if I could peek inside the Challenger that was on the turntable at the recent auto show. She actually said yes; if fact she let me sit in it for a minute. No, the interior is NOT the same as the Charger, but I was a bit disappointed with the overall feel of the materials. That being said, I will stick my neck out and say they should have no problem selling 25 or 30K of these a year for a few years. The lack of a stick (at the moment) will hinder sales but the car has appeal, at least to the right audience. An Accord may be a great car folks, but it isn’t for everybody. There are plenty of people with disposable income that want to relive their youth, or just like big engined cars. Yep, the mileage sucks. But if you only drive 5000 miles a year, or use this car as a playtoy, MPG’s are not a top priority. This car has given Chrysler a lot of attention, an it is damn well priced for a “halo” vehicle. I don’t think the company ever expected to build 100K of these a year. Being that it uses so many existing components it could be canceled in a few years and it would still have made sense, especially if it helps move some more Chargers. This built-in platform sharing saves tons on R&D money. That’s how Ford made so much cash on the first and second gen Explorers. They were just Rangers with a box on the back. That came to bite them in the dupa when the lack of cargo weight capacity caused tire issues, but that’s a different story. Go with throttle up Challenger!!

  • avatar

    Motive Magazine already did a comparo pitting the SRT8 Challenger against the GT500 Mustang, they found the Challenger luxurious and refined compared to the Mustang and it ran nearly as fast without a blower despite it’s added weight. The 6.1L HEMI is very underrated by Chrysler.

    But why all the harping about the interior? It’s nice for this type of car and frankly nobody buys this type of car for the latest gizmos or finest leather or soft-touch plastic. That’s not what these cars are about. Nicer interiors matter in less focused, high-volume stuff like the Avenger and Sebring.

    I might be the exception, but I am in my 20s and this car has relevence to me. I think it looks incredible and I’ve been following it since it was a concept.

    This car was produced in direct response to consumer demand after the concept was shown and the success of the Ford Mustang.

    This summer Chrysler is releasing vastly more affordable models of this car. Chrysler feels they have a much hotter potato here than virtually everything else they sell, and I they’re right. People will buy cars like this and the Charger from Chrysler because aside from the Wrangler and Ram it’s the only thing they do right. And in this case the execution is virtually flawless considering what they had to work with.

    The Challenger is one very bright spot in an otherwise very dark product portfoilo at Chrysler. It also didn’t cost them an arm and a leg and a whole lot of time to come up with it considering it’s an LX car variant that currently has all the parts and plant to run it out.

    This car and the Mustang are proof GM never should have discontinued the Camaro years ago. That was as massive a blunder as discontinuing their fullsized, RWD cars which ceded the market to Ford alone. They also ceded the muscle car market to Ford exclusively and Ford has profited handsomely.

    The Camaro is still nearly a year off, it required an all-new structure made out of the Holden Commodore and it required GM to retool a plant to build it as well as unique interior parts. GM’s investment in this segment is much more substantial than Chrysler and Ford’s. I think it will be reflected in the Camaro’s overall quality and price.

    People may think muscle cars aren’t relevent, but there’s a lot of people like me out there that would rather buy a ride that’s distinctly American and charasmatic from the Big Three than their latest boring, Japanese me-too car.

  • avatar
    rtz

    The new Camaro will be too expensive for the target market. That is the exact reason the previous model was ended. It just got too freaking expensive for the ones who wanted to own one to be able to afford too.

  • avatar

    Richard Hammond of Top Gear also wrote an extraordinary piece on the new Challenger and the allure of American muscle cars of all eras.

    I highly recommend people read it.

    http://www.topgear.com/content/features/stories/2008/04/stories/06/1.html

    Some notable paragraphs.

    There are those who don’t like muscle cars, who can’t understand their appeal and frown at them in confusion and bewilderment. They will not like the new Challenger. And we should pity these people – pity them, but not fear them, because they are spineless and have no soul.

    If a car is a dynamic creature, if it’s about taking you from where you are to where you need to be and making your hair tingle in the process, then a muscle car is the ultimate expression of that form.

    And now, with the arrival of the Challenger, a new generation can embrace the muscle car and feel the power.

    Chrysler got it right.

    How a modern car manufacturer has managed to create such a long, low, lean and sinister shape and still adhere to the pedestrian safety laws and regulations that have everyone else turning out cars with big squashy bonnets five feet off the ground and bumpers like wheelie bins strapped on front and back, I just don’t know. And I’d rather not – the more mystery the better.

    The interior is terrible, and so it should be. I hope they have the sense to do a black plastic option with a vinyl dash. All I want inside is a super-wide rear-view mirror for those Vanishing Point shots of the road receding behind.

    There’s probably room in the back for a couple of passengers, but who cares? It will have a boot, you can put stuff in it, so what?

    There will be a 3.5-litre V6 version next year, for idiots to buy. Why would you want that? It’s like popping into the dragon shop for a pet and coming out with a poodle.

    Sometimes the outright disdain for distinctly American rides like the Challenger and the lack of appreciation for them here surprises and disappoints me.

    One thing is for sure, some of us will enjoy it before it’s gone again.

  • avatar

    Alex Rodriguez is correct in his assessment of the interior. It’s actually a bit different than the Challenger’s other LX siblings. There are also numerous pictures of the production Challenger out there with it’s pistol-grip manual shifter.

  • avatar
    red5

    I don’t know, while I’m no fan of this car (I think the inside looks aweful) I teach high school in a wealthy Dallas ‘burb and there are quite a few kiddos with this car plastered on their notebooks. I expect to see quite a few in the parking lot next year.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    In a word, the new Challenger’s Charger interior is craptacular. Unlike the concept car, there’s nothing the least bit ‘retro’ about the production car’s interior (at least the first automatic versions). Even when the Pistol-Grip manual cars start showing up later, it will be just like sitting in a Charger with a Pistol-Grip shifter.

    FWIW, it’s worth noting that, unlike the original E-body, the rear quarter windows of the production Challenger are fixed (whereas the concept was a true hardtop), meaning it’s, again, much closer to just being a Charger sedan. Even though the original Challenger was derived from the B-body intermediate car, it was difficult to pick up on that in the E-body’s all-new body or interior. This is not the case with the new Challenger. It’s all too obvious that it’s derived entirely from the LX-series Charger.

    Ironically, Chrysler would have been much better off if they had saved the Challenger development money and simply made a two-door version of the Charger using something resembling the well-styled ‘tunnel back’ rear window of the ’68-’70 Charger, arguably one of the best looking cars to ever come out of Detroit, in addition to using an updated version of the great ‘hidden’ tail-light treatment of the ’69-’70 Charger. In fact, the Intrepid-based Charger concept from a few years ago had exactly that.

    As pointed out, the new Challenger will likely follow the path of the car it’s based upon, in that it will be discontinued within four years due to poor sales.

  • avatar
    iNeon

    OK guys, what gives?

    You’ve bashed the car for being weak, heavy, ugly, poorly-designed and for it’s ‘questionable’ lineage.

    Are you forgetting this is an everyman’s coupe?!? This is a large RWD coupe(in it’s base model) for marginally more than a Civic Si.

    That is all.

  • avatar

    SO this thing is just as fast in a straight line as a Ford Mustang GT (yet requires 125 more hp to be that fast), handles worse than a Ford Mustang GT, weighs 700 lbs more than a Ford Mustang GT, gets worse fuel economy than a Ford Mustang GT, and costs $15,000 more than a Ford Mustang GT – oh, and its retrostyled just like a Ford Mustang GT

    so who in their right mind would buy this over a Ford Mustang GT?

  • avatar
    rudiger

    cretinx: so who in their right mind would buy this over a Ford Mustang GT?
    It’s not quite as bad as all that. The Challenger SRT-8 is targeted at the Shelby GT500 market while the Challenger R/T is the competitor for the Mustang GT. The prices for comparable cars aren’t that far apart.

    Likewise, although the base V6 Challenger will be more expensive than the V6 Mustang, the V6 Challenger gets an automatic as standard equipment (it’s extra cost in the V6 Mustang).

    So, the competition is welcome and there ‘will’ be some Challenger sales. Still, as bloated as the Challenger is in comparison to the Mustang, Chrysler will need to do some immediate heavy-duty promoting/discounting to unload as many Challengers as they can before the Camaro arrives on the scene (as well as the updated 2010 Mustang at the beginning of 2009). When the inevitable Mustang/Challenger/Camaro comparisons start rolling in, I suspect that the Challenger will be dragging up the rear.

  • avatar
    nrd515

    I have to admit I enjoyed reading the prognostications of doom for the Challenger. The 2011 will be coming soon, and it looks to be even nicer than the 2010 R/T I bought last week!

  • avatar
    msgenie516

    Hi,

    I have enjoyed reading all of the varied comments and opinions.  But I, for one, LOVE this car and just purchased a VERY slightly used  (5,055 miles) 2010 Dodge Challenger SE and will be getting it later this week.  It is the brighter red (can’t remember the name but it’s not the Inferno Pearl).  I loved it when I first saw it and when I took it out for a ride, I loved it even more!  I’m female and 63 years old and I know I’m no expert on cars but, obviously, I’ve been driving a long time and this one was plenty powerful for me (I’m not a drag racer, for sure but I’ve been driving a 2005 Dodge Stratus – 4 cylinder – which I will easily live without, I think it is just awful – my Mom gave it to me when she was 85 and gave up driving) and the ride was smooth as silk and felt like I was driving a Cadillac.

    I drive only about 2,000 miles a year (this may go up a bit as this car is so tempting to drive) so the weight and gas mileage aren’t issues for me.  The 6 cyl. should serve me just fine because my first consideration was the “retro” muscle car look, not the power.  The comfortable ride is a very nice bonus.

    I just thought I would let you know there are really people that like this car!  i am looking forward to getting it – think I might take it to the body shop to add some black racing stripes and a rear spoiler just for the fun of it! This is the perfect AMERICAN car!

    • 0 avatar
      msgenie516

      Hi,

      I just wanted to add that I went with my husband today to the Jeep/Dodge dealer to pick up his new 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland and while we were there, a family was also there that purchased a new Challenger (V8, of course) for their son, who could have not been more than 20 years old, if that (he looked thrilled about the car).  So the point I am making is that this car appeals to all ages.

      When I purchased mine, I was fully aware that the rear seats are not too accessible with small windows that surely don’t show you “the world” and that the rear vision is extremely limited.  But since it is usually the two of us that would go out in this car (we plan on using the Grand Cherokee for more passengers), the small windows are not problematic.  I drove a full-size Ford Econoline van for many years, so I can also deal with the lack of rear vision.  I find that one of the most important adjustment I make in my driving habits to avoid problems is make sure I find a parking spot that I can pull out of.  This does make for extra walking at times to get to the store, but who can’t use a little excercise?  I live in a suburban neighborhood so there are no parking garages.  They are one thing I wouldn’t want to tackle with this car.

      The rear wheel drive is the only thing that has me a bit worried.  My Stratus, even though it is a small, lightweight car, handled the snow and bad weather very well with the front wheel drive.  If the rear wheel drive on the Challenger gives me too many problems in the winter, I will just use the Jeep when needed.

      Of course, I realize that I am lucky that I can deal with the problems and not everyone can but, despite everything, I just HAD to have this car-it’s a BEAUTY!


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