By on March 24, 2020

With the coronavirus keeping everyone on the cusp of cabin fever, we’ve seen unaccompanied celebrities release collaborative renditions of terrible songs in order to maintain their fragile egos, museums offering virtual tours and activities, and texts from good people that we haven’t heard from in ages. The secret to living in isolation, it seems, is to remain active and upbeat while sharing those positive vibes — something made easier by the internet.

Keeping that in mind, we noticed some buzz surrounding Fiat Chrysler lead designer Ralph Gilles on Monday. Seemingly bored to tears, he’s been working from home this month and decided to share a rendition of the Dodge Charger (maybe Challenger?) the team has been working on. While clearly an early design draft of a yet-unbuilt concept model, we’re not so sure the artist has taken the exercise totally seriously. 

It’s not the loud paint color (which is pretty standard for Dodge) or the hood pins and wild dimensions that raise our collective eyebrow — it’s the integrated front spoiler guards Gilles saw fit to include and then make reference to. And yet there may still be some legitimate automotive design taking place here. FCA’s design head at least admitted the image was in service of an experimental design at one point — though that may have also been in jest.

“We are still having virtual design reviews while we self isolate & work from home,” Gilles wrote on Instagram. “While we are NEVER to show future product on social media I have made an exception this time as this experimental design of a #Dodge of the future fell on the cutting room floor… because the designer decided to make the yellow spoiler guards a permanent part of the theme. We had a really good laugh about it though!”

While we’re under the assumption that Gilles simply wanted to brighten everyone’s day by making light of the bizarre trend where Dodge customers leave on the protective yellow guards that are supposed to be dumped after shipping, there’s always a chance this rendering could denote the styling of some future product. No one could tell you which cues might stick around without FCA’s help — and that isn’t happening.

Instead, we’re just having a good laugh and taking note of the Dodge brand’s continued willingness to engage with customers like they’re real people who might have an opinion about cars. It’s solid marketing, whether that was Gilles’ original intent or not, and a smart way to keep us thinking about the brand as the entire auto industry essentially goes on hiatus.

[Image: Ralph Gilles/Instagram]

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14 Comments on “FCA’s Lead Designer Seems to Be Having Fun With Us...”


  • avatar

    Detroit has always had excellent design and engineering talent. The problem is bean counters eventually destroy all that engineering excellence. FCA would never have the guts to release something like this.

    Alas, poor Gillis’s future will be redesigning Peugeots for the North American market. Gillis should apply to Tesla were his talent will be appreciated.

    • 0 avatar
      SSJeep

      Yep, and the engineering excellence that is destroyed by bean counters then gets outsourced to the lowest price provider in China, who is then told to “self-certify” their cut rate parts. And when the parts get back here and all start going bad, it shows as egregious warranty costs on the Big 3 balance sheets.

      Just build good product, thats all. Id seriously look at a vehicle based on this concept.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      “FCA would never have the guts to release something like this.”

      yeah, just like how the bean counters stopped the Hellcat and Demon from hitting the market. Oh, wait.

      • 0 avatar

        The Hellcat and Demon will probably fade away to make room for the next truck or SUV. For an example, look at what GM did to the magnificent CT6-V. Even the Camaro is on the potential chopping block.

        At this point is FCA even willing to engineer a replacement platform for the Hellcat. They will probably put the Hellcat on top of a Peugeot platform since they demonstrated they are unwilling to develop their own car platform. Remember, the Hellcat’s platform was engineered primarily by Daimler.

        • 0 avatar

          “Hellcat’s platform was engineered primarily by Daimler.”

          Who said that? If you are talking about LX Chrysler was working on it before marriage with Daimler Benz.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            don’t expect akear to be smart enough to understand that.

          • 0 avatar

            The rear differential and five-link rear suspension of the LX chassis was Mercedes-sourced, along with the double wishbone front suspension.

          • 0 avatar
            EGSE

            @Akear
            A suspension is not a platform. Shade-tree mechanics with one-bay garages have swapped thousands of Dana 60 or Ford 9 inch rears into nearly every Big Three body since the ’60s with various linkages to suit the intended use. Back in the day Jaguar IRS with in-board brakes were used the same way.

  • avatar

    I love that dude. Ralph was an automotive hero of mine before I ever went to work for FCA. Having met him at the racetrack and chatted with him a few other times, I was never disappointed in meeting this hero.

  • avatar

    Nobody answered my question. Will FCA follow GM’s path and let their muscle cars fade away.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      Because nobody knows and any answer would be akin to your ascertion that the LX cars were primarily Mercedes efforts ..just some internet random talking out his or her kiester.

      Incidentally those cars are way too reliable to have had significant Mercedes input. Their hand in the suspension makes sense though…given that the ball joints are such a weak link on them.

  • avatar

    I actually LIKE the bright, contrasting spoiler guards. They add some color and visual interest to the usual dull grey scale selection of exterior color choices (although Dodge does have a nice color assortment!).

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    In a world with no speedbumps (front spoiler), pavement irregularities (tire aspect ratio), dark nights (lighting efficacy), or heads and shoulders (greenhouse), this vehicle would appeal to me.

    But that’s not the world I live in.

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