* Unprecedented public response to Challenger concept leads to 'green light' decision for production * Chrysler Group COO Eric Ridenour says concept-to-production success story highlights focus on speed-to-market
The announcement was made shortly before the Pepsi 400 NASCAR race at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. Driving out with the Dodge Challenger was Chrysler Group Chief Operating Officer Eric Ridenour.
"We haven't seen this kind of spontaneous, passionate response to a car since we unveiled the Dodge Viper concept in 1989," said LaSorda. "But 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."
The Dodge Challenger will feature the long hood, short deck, wide stance and two-door coupe body style that distinguished the iconic Challengers of the 1970s.
"We drew on the rich heritage of the Dodge Challenger, but with contemporary forms and technologies," said Ridenour. "It's not just a re- creation; it's a reinterpretation."
Dodge's "Pony Car" in the 1970s
The Dodge Challenger made its debut in the fall of 1969 as a 1970 model. While it shared the "E-body" platform with the Plymouth Barracuda, Dodge Challenger's wheelbase was two inches longer, creating more interior space.
The Dodge Challenger was originally offered as either a two-door hardtop or convertible. And, befitting the brand's performance heritage, the Dodge Challenger also went racing in its first year, competing most notably in the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) Trans-Am series and National Hot Rod Association's Pro Stock class.
Although it was produced only from 1970 to 1974, the Dodge Challenger earned a reputation as one of the most desirable of the original "pony cars," with meticulously restored and rare examples today selling for six-figure prices.
In its first year, Dodge Challenger was offered in a limited-edition T/A model to meet homologation requirements for SCCA Trans-Am racing. In 1971, a Dodge Challenger paced the Indianapolis 500 race. New front-end styling in 1972 featured a larger, "egg-crate" grille. In April 1974, Challenger production ceased. Over a five-year span, approximately 188,600 Dodge Challengers were sold.
The Dodge Challenger is another chapter in Chrysler Group's long history of bringing concepts quickly to production, including the Dodge Viper, Plymouth Prowler, Chrysler PT Cruiser and Jeep(R) Compass.
"Our product development system allows us to quickly turn concepts into high-quality production vehicles," said Ridenour. "We're justifiably proud of our speed to market, and Dodge Challenger is the latest example of our focus on getting gotta-have-it vehicles to our customers."
With 1.4 million vehicles sold globally in 2005, Dodge is the No. 5 nameplate in the U.S. automotive market. Overall, Dodge has a 7 percent market share in the United States. In the minivan market, Dodge has a 22 percent market share; in the truck market, 16 percent; and 5 percent of the car market.
This year, Dodge Caliber paved the way for international expansion of the brand. Hot on the heels of Caliber are the all-new 2007 Dodge Nitro, Caliber SRT4 and a D-segment vehicle.