On Jul 1, 2006, preceding the debut of the Pepsi 400 NASCAR race at Daytona International Speedway, Chrysler officials have announced that the Dodge Challenger Concept presented at NAIAS will make it to production. The new generation Dodge Challenger will make its debut as a 2008 model in the 2008 calendar year and will get to challenge the highly successful Ford Mustang and perhaps the production version of the Chevrolet Camaro Concept.
The retro fashion is slowly getting every automobile manufacturer. Chrysler could not just stand and watch the success of the new Ford Mustang; they had to strike back by resurrecting one of their legends. Moreover, what vehicle could carry on better such a task than the traditional Ford Mustang adversary from the ‘70s!? The public reaction was tested with the Dodge Challenger Concept presented in January at the Detroit international motor show.As Tom LaSorda, Chrysler CEO has stated, “it’s easy to see what people like about the Dodge Challenger. It’s bold, powerful and capable. It’s a modern take on one of the most iconic muscle cars, and sets a new standard for pure ‘pony car’ performance. We haven’t seen this kind of spontaneous, passionate response to a car since we unveiled the Dodge Viper concept in 1989.”
The 2008 Dodge Challenger will use the updated version of the LX platform (called the LY platform) already under the Dodge Charger, Chrysler 300, and the Magnum, but it will be a coupe (with only two doors) like the vintage Dodge Challengers. As back in the early 1970’s the new Challenger is set to compete with the Ford Mustang and it said that it will be produced in 60,000 - 70,000 units a year. The starting price for the 2008 Dodge Challenger will be around $28,000.
The new LY platform will offer a six - gear manual transmission, along with the regular automatic transmission. It will be available with a Hemi, although there has been some speculation about which size HEMI that will be put in the 2009 Dodge Challenger. The talk right now is whether or not they will put the new 392 Hemi, which is designed for racing, in the Challenger or if they will have a different sized Hemi, or a tuned down version of the 392.
The concept vehicle shown at NAIAS had a 6.1-liter V8 Hemi V8 under the hood but hat engine is expected to be used on the SRT version of the production car. Instead of that, the standard 5.7-liter Hemi V8 is more likely to be used. According to Dodge, the power-train in the concept could deliver 0-60 mph in 4.5 seconds, a quarter-mile run in 13 seconds flat, and a top speed of 174 mph. There is also highly probable that the base version will equip a V6 engine, just as the Mustang does.
There is almost certain that the Challenger will be offered in R/T and SE versions. The T/A version was not confirmed, but as the Charger was offered in Daytona and Super BEE editions that is possible. The development of the Challenger shows that Chrysler is continuing the development of a strongly individual brand identity for Dodge that gets to be the performance brand for the company.
The new Challenger will feature the long hood, short deck, ample stance and two-door coupe body style that discerned the iconic Challengers of the 1970s. As Dodge designers stated the car it’s not just a re-creation; it’s a reinterpretation. The car follows the muscle car recipe mixing lots of horsepower with pure signature lines, an aggressive air-grabbing grille and bold color-graphics combination.
The Challenger concept had a 116-inch wheelbase, six inches longer than the original, but it was also two inches wider, giving the concept a more stable stance. The emblematic side line is set on the 2008 model higher up on the body and runs through the fender and door, rising just forward of the rear wheel. The wheel openings were drawn firmly against the tires and have the rearward edges trailing off. The hood manages to reprise the original Challenger “performance hood” with its twin diagonal air intakes that feed now functional butterfly-valve intakes.
Dodge designers declared that the production version will follow exactly the design details of the concept car. However, we know that is never actually like that. Our team of artists has worked out a pair a sketches to show you a glimpse of the production base Challenger will probably look like. The cheap $28,000 model will most likely feature a single color body work with no stripes and smaller wheels than the huge 20” and 21” ones fitted on the concept. The side mirrors will have to be bigger on the production version and also the door handles are likely to be more practical. The LED front lights are also probable to be replaced by conventional bulb lights on the base model.
TopSpeed artists rendering of the production Challenger
Dodge’s Challenger project was launched in 1965 and was Dodge’s answer to the pony car. In the fall of 1969, Dodge finally introduced their new E body. Offering nine engines, from a slant-six Coupe to an R/T Hemi, and eighteen colors, the Challenger offered a lot of choice.
As all the range of that time, the Challenger had a wheelbase longer with two inches than the Plymouth version. Dodge was branded at that time below Chrysler but above Plymouth. The Challenger was offered as both hardtop and convertible versions. Specific Dodge models were the R/T (road and track) performance version and the SE luxury package (offering leather seats, a vinyl roof, and the "formal styled" rear window). The base engine for the Dodge Challenger was the cheap slant six. The smallest V8 was the 340 that produced rated 275 hp and 340 lb-ft of torque at a low 3,200 rpm.
The top model was the R/T developing 383 horsepower. Other three optional engines were: the legendary Hemi (with 425 hp but built only in 356 units), the more affordable 440 Magnum (375 hp with a single four-barrel carb), and the Hemi-challenging 440 Six Pack, with three two-barrel carburetors.
There was also a famous version called the T/A (after the SCCA Trans American series). It was the road going version of the racing car and used a 340 Six Pack running at a rated 290 horsepower (also some claim it was actually more powerful). The T/A was a show-off in general, with big stripes and dual exhausts with special outlets. Equipped with the with a special heavy duty "Rallye" suspension featuring increased rear-spring camber, and resized front and rear tires, it could do 14 second quarter miles. The E-body Challenger was never competitive in the series it was designed for.
Since the 1964 introduction, the Ford Mustang has been the icon of American performance with its bold style, brawny engine and rear-wheel-drive excitement, earning its place as the top-selling sports car for 19 years straight. This is the car that invented the vehicle segment the new Challenger will have to enter. For 2006, Ford is building on the clean-sheet 2005 design by offering a V-6 "Pony Package," 18-inch wheels on GT models, a pair of new colors and , later in the model year, a darker aluminum interior upgrade option.
The Ford Mustang is one of the biggest automotive sales success stories of all time. Nearly one out of every two sports cars sold in this year has been a Mustang. The car garnered more than two times as many sales as its closest competitor in the small specialty segment, which features sports coupes such as the Pontiac GTO, Nissan 350Z, Chrysler Sebring and Hyundai Tiburon. It’s also ’s best-selling convertible.
The standard engine, a 60-degree 4.0-liter SOHC V-6, produces 210 horsepower and 240 pound-feet of torque. Muscular engines infuse Mustang with tire-smoking performance. The 4.6-liter aluminum V-8 has three-valve heads and cranks out 300 horsepower.
Click here to read our complete Ford Mustang review.
The other famous muscle car about to be resurrected is the Chevrolet Camaro. It was also presented as a concept car recently. The Camaro Concept embodies the performance and passion that have made first-generation Camaros some of the most sought-after collector cars, updating the formula with a fuel-efficient powertrain, sophisticated chassis and contemporary design execution. The goal is to make the sport coupe relevant to younger enthusiasts while retaining its appeal to its current fans.
Unlike the modern Camaro that bowed out in 2002, the concept Camaro is a car that is clearly inspired by the Camaros of the late 1960s. However, the retro look is only skin-deep, as the Camaro has a fully independent suspension, a six-speed manual, and a 400-hp, 6.0-liter V-8 with cylinder deactivation-now known as active fuel management in GM-speak. Speculation about a possible platform centers on GM’s rear-drive Zeta architecture that was shelved last year after being deemed too expensive.
Click here to read more about the Chevrolet Camaro concept