2006 Detroit Auto Show Index by TCC Team (1/7/2006)
In the weeks leading up to the
North American International Auto Show in Detroit, one car getting a lot of
attention was the Dodge Challenger concept vehicle, with its retro styling that
recalls the muscle car era.
Chrysler’s designers have flirted
with the retro styling for years, but the Challenger’s final design
sports less contemporary flair than it channels the muscle car from Chrysler’s
Though it will be unveiled as a
concept vehicle at the NAIAS, the rear-wheel-drive, two-door Challenger is
widely considered as a sure bet to reach production, perhaps as soon as the
middle of 2007, according to a new report issued by CMS Worldwide just before
the opening of the show.
car is based on the rear-wheel-drive LX platform that has already been used for
the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Magnum/Charger.
2002 Ford Thunderbird Neimen Marcus EditionEnlarge Photo
Tom Tremont, Chrysler Group vice
president of advanced design, said the Challenger, which was designed in
Chrysler’s Pacifica Studio in Southern California, comes with all the
distinctive features needed for an American muscle car, including a huge dose of
horsepower, minimal signature lines, an aggressive grille, and bold colors and
Tremont added the Challenger
concept vehicles draws upon the initial 1970 model, which is considered the icon
in the Challenger series. CSM describes the concept car as a “near-clone.”
“The 1970 model is the most sought
after by collectors. But instead of merely recreating that car, the designers
endeavored to build a Challenger most people see in their mind’s eye — a vehicle
without imperfections like the old car’s tucked-under wheels, long front
overhang, and irregular fits. You remember the good and screen out the bad,” he
said the key to making sure the Challenger looked right was to make sure the car
had the right proportions. The concept Challenger sits on a 116-inch wheelbase,
which is six inches longer than the original. The concept Challenger, however,
is also two inches wider, giving the car a squat, tougher, and more purposeful
appearance, according to the vehicle’s designers.
2001 Ford Taurus SedanEnlarge Photo
The concept car also can
accommodate four seats and while the exterior is retro, the interior has a very
contemporary feel, which includes the latest materials and textures as well as
The long, thrust line down the
side of the car, which was one of the distinctive features of the original
Challenger's design, has been raised and the concept vehicle sits on 20-inch
tires in the front and 21-inch tires in the rear. The wheels are set flush to
the body to enhance the power of the car’s stance
The hood and rear decklid of the
Challenger concept are also higher than on the original Challenger, and the show
car is powered by — what else — a 6.1-liter HEMI that turns out 425
The concept Challenger’s wide
stance also is emphasized both in the front and the rear of the vehicle while
the bumpers are flush clean and colored the same as the body.
“This is something we would have
loved to do on the original Challenger,” said Jeff Godshall, who worked in the
Chrysler Exterior studio in the 1960s. “The technology just wasn’t there. With
the Challenger concept, however, the Pacifica Studio designers are able to
realize what we wanted,” Godshall said.
CSM Worldwide’s report said the development of the Challenger was spurred by the success of the Ford’s new Mustang and the recent trend of outfitting classic muscle cars with modern mechanical equipment.
The concept Challenger also appears to be an effort to appease of vocal group of critics upset with the Chrysler Group’s decision to turn the Charger into a four-door sedan.