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Dodge's reborn Challenger is go!

Slick: Two-door Challenger concept revives the 1969 original.

Dodge confirms production of is wild Challenger coupe, and Oz puts out its hand

11 Jul 2006

AUSTRALIANS may have good reason to lament the fact Dodge’s new-generation Charger sedan is unlikely to ever be sold here, but the US muscle car brand’s bristling new Challenger coupe could well suffice as an unexpected consolation prize.

Unveiled in concept guise at this year Detroit motor show in January, the wild new Dodge coupe was last week confirmed for left-hand drive production and, if enough right-hand drive countries express interest in it, Challenger could become Dodge Australia’s performance flagship.

The fifth biggest-selling car brand in the US, Dodge will be relaunched in Australia in mid-August when the small Caliber hatch is released. The striking Dodge five-door will be joined in early 2007 by the mid-sized Nitro off-roader but, if approved for RHD production, Challenger could be the third Dodge model to be made available here.

However, with a 2008 on-sale date in the US, it is likely other future Dodges may precede it, including the Swift-like Hornet light hatch that debuted at the Geneva motor show in March.

"We haven’t seen this kind of spontaneous, passionate response to a car since we unveiled the Dodge Viper concept in 1989," said Chrysler Group president and CEO Tom LaSorda. "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."Chrysler Group Australia’s general manager (national sales) Brad Fitzsimmons said Australian Challenger sales depended on other RHD markets.

"We’re excited that the Dodge Challenger is a go. The Chrysler Group is famous for two-door muscle cars in Australia with the success of the Charger in the ’70s, and we would love to add the Dodge Challenger to the exciting Dodge line-up that is coming to Australia.

"We will be putting our hand up for the Challenger. Whether or not it will be produced in right-hand-drive remains to be seen it really depends on demand in other right-hand-drive countries for a solid business case," he said.

The new model features the same long bonnet, wide stance that distinguished the now-famous Challenger coupe and convertible produced between 1969 and 1974.

While the original was based on a stretched "E-body" platform from the Plymouth Barracuda, the new-generation Challenger will be underpinned by the same rear-drive architecture the 300C and Charger sedans are based on.

Currently dubbed LX, the platform is expected to evolve into the LY version, which will form the basis of next-generation Dodge/Chrysler models – including Challenger – expected to appear from late next year in the US.

An unapologetic rival for Ford Mustang and Chevrolet’s Corvette (and the same brand’s Camaro coupe concept), the Challenger concept was styled by Chrysler Group’s West Coast Pacifica Studio and features five-spoke chrome wheels – 20-inch items up front and 21-inch rears – and wheel tracks (1625mm front 1650mm rear) that are wider than both 300C and Chrysler’s original 1970 Challenger.

The production Challenger is likely to appear first as the SRT-8 flagship, powered by a 6.1-litre V8, before becoming available in the US with 5.7-litre HEMI V8 firepower.

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