The Chrysler group needs the new Dodge Charger sedan to be a smash hit as it tries to re-establish Dodge as a hot passenger car brand after years of stressing pickups and SUVs.
And the automaker wants to build on the momentum and marketing buzz generated by the Chrysler 300 sedan and Dodge Magnum station wagon.
So Dodge is using a full-court press to light up the brand's image. Advertising will emphasize performance and a muscle-car heritage. Consumers can indulge their fantasies with a base Charger that starts at about $23,000 or a hot, Hemi-powered Charger R/T.
But there also will be a version of the Charger that comes standard with a smaller V-6 that's just for sale to fleets. It could take as much as 25 percent of production, which will make demand seem even stronger. It also will increase the Charger's visibility by putting more on the street.
Not everybody likes the looks of the four-door Charger. Some enthusiasts and nostalgia buffs think it ought to be a two-door coupe just to keep in step with the Charger muscle cars of the late 1960s.
And there are bound to be those who don't like the advertising. Gone are the two characters who made "That thing got a Hemi?'' a cultural phenomenon. And as far as I can tell, the Dodge Rebellion girls aren't making a comeback either.
Now that Dodge is really trying to get back into the performance car groove, maybe the product planners will consider bringing back the Challenger nameplate on something really hot.
The Challenger, which was Dodge's pony car, died in 1974, but the name still ought to have some cachet, even though it lost a little luster when it was later used on a Mitsubishi.
Yes, once upon a time I owned a genuine Dodge Challenger. But, no, I'm not sentimental. Various versions of the Plymouth Barracuda, which was the Challenger's sibling, had more fame among street rodders and collectors. But resurrecting the Barracuda nameplate would require a marketing tap dance since the Plymouth brand is dead, gone and buried.
Think about that when your neighbor cranks up his Challenger R/T convertible this weekend. I will.
You may e-mail Edward Lapham at