Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Dodge Challenger Convertibles in the Pipeline

DETROIT — Convertible versions of the Dodge Challenger and Chevrolet Camaro are expected to become reality in the 2010 model year, according to supplier sources familiar with the product cycle plans at the two Detroit automakers.

Chrysler's Brampton, Ontario, plant is on track to build a soft-top version of the Challenger with production tentatively scheduled to kick off in December 2009, in advance of the spring selling season in 2010.

"The Challenger convertible was always in the plan," one highly placed source told Inside Line. "Once you get rid of the [Chrysler] PT Cruiser convertible, you only have the Sebring convertible." Production of the Chrysler PT Cruiser convertible ended on December 21 as part of the automaker's attempt to cut slow-selling products.

Chrysler is also considering a larger Hemi engine for the Challenger, Inside Line has learned. The Dodge Challenger SRT8 is equipped with a 6.1-liter V8; Chrysler would up the ante with the 6.4-liter V8 mated to a six-speed manual transmission. Output numbers are not yet set in stone, but they are said to be in the neighborhood of 500 horsepower on the 6.4-liter V8, sources said.

What this means to you: Buyers of the Challenger and Camaro will be able to feel the wind in their hair in a couple of years. — Anita Lienert, Correspondent

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