Wednesday, July 25, 2007

2009 Dodge Challenger: Concept to Production

Chrysler knows the 2009 Dodge Challenger will be showing up late to the retro pony car party. The company has carefully foreshadowed the second coming of the long-nosed Hemi-powered contender since Ford proved it could sell the 1965 Mustang all over again in 2005.

Standing on the sidelines while Ford took the initial retro risk saved Chrysler the potential embarrassment of making a bad decision, but Dodge has also been using the Challenger's late arrival to tease buyers and build interest in the forthcoming muscle car. Strategically planted rumors and radical orange concept car renderings in 2005 had the public drooling for sheet metal.

Finally, in January 2006, Dodge unveiled the Challenger Concept at the same venue that saw the debut of Ford's Concept Mustang three years prior, the North American International Auto Show.

A relatively long hood and Chrysler's characteristic gangster window line flow into widened and raised rear haunches, barely housing giant 21-inch wheels, and black stripes of unpainted carbon fiber run the length of the body. There's no disputing it — the Challenger Concept looked positively boss when the sheet was whisked off.

Soon after the car's unveiling, Inside Line visited Chrysler's Pacifica Design Studio in Carlsbad, California, where the 2009 Dodge Challenger Concept was designed. There we interviewed the two men responsible for the car's look. "Early on, we just tried to capture 'Mopar' in the designs," Mike Castiglione told us during our visit. "We tried to capture the beveled edges that were uniquely Mopar back in the muscle car days. If you look at an old Challenger or Charger, the lines have a snap to them. Once we figured that out, then we got more focused." Mike beat out two other designers for the gig and it's fair to say he was the right man for the job.

Two Challenger Concepts were built, both powered by the famous 6.1-liter Hemi V8. The first was a hot orange Challenger Concept designed to be a street car with 425 horsepower. The second, a 525-hp flat-black Challenger Super-stock concept, is shod with massive Goodyear slicks and is good for one thing — knocking off 11.0-second quarter-mile runs.

The concept cars are based on a shortened Dodge Charger platform and are topped with bodies made entirely of carbon fiber. And both are real runners. In fact, we took the orange Challenger Concept out cruising in Southern California to the famous Donut Derelicts car show. Then we drag-raced the flat-black Challenger Super-Stock Concept at the Mopars at the Strip event in Las Vegas.

The release of the 2009 Dodge Challenger won't be the first time Chrysler introduced a car at the tail end of the muscle-car craze — the original Challenger hit the streets in 1970, six years after the Ford Mustang and four after Chevy's Camaro, which will be getting its own resurgence with the release of the 2009 Chevy Camaro. There's a reason the car is named "Challenger."

Late to the party or not, the 2009 Dodge Challenger is poised to crash it. Big time.


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Photos

For the first time since 1970, a new Dodge Challenger stretches its legs on public roads.
(Photo by Mark Urbano)
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At Crystal Cruisers in Newport Beach, the Challenger get another enthusiastic reception.
(Photo by Mark Urbano)
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Open wide and show us your Hemi.
(Photo by Mark Urbano)
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The Challenger Concept and this 1970 Challenger shows...
(Photo by Mark Urbano)
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This rear-quarter view showcases the Challenger's signature highlight line.
(Photo by Mark Urbano)
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Every picture tells a story.
(Photo by Mark Urbano)
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Early clay model looks very different then the finished car.
(Photo by Mark Urbano)
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1 comment:

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