DETROIT -- Watch out, Ford Mustang. Dodge is preparing a challenger.
In fact, it's likely to be called Challenger.
Chrysler plans to resurrect a respected name from the pony car era for a rear-wheel-drive Mustang fighter, industry sources say. The car is expected in 2009 on the LX platform, the basis of the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Magnum and Charger.
"It is a two-door, essentially a competitor for the Mustang," says Catherine Madden, a production analyst for industry research group Global Insight. "They are really excited about it."
Madden says the sport coupe is planned to debut in 2009, when the next-generation LX vehicles are scheduled to be re-engineered and restyled.
"They would be able to make some additional investment in the platform, make some adjustments for that product" at that time, she says.
"The enthusiasm for that product," Madden says, is "very big."
Chrysler hopes to sell 60,000 to 70,000 of the cars a year, she says. An assembly site was not identified. Production of the 300, Magnum and recently introduced Charger is expected to fill Chrysler's Brampton, Ontario, assembly plant.
Chrysler officials are not talking about the car, but industry analysts say they are familiar with the plans.
Jim Hall, vice president of industry analysis at AutoPacific Inc., says he isn't sure Chrysler can pull it off. "They have a lot of stuff that has to be cleared off the table before they start playing around with that car," he says.
The redesigned 2005 Mustang has exceeded initial sales estimates. Ford expects to build 192,000 Mustangs this year, and most retail units are selling at a price near the sticker.
The 1970-74 Challenger was Dodge's answer to the original Mustang, as well as the Chevrolet Camaro, Pontiac Firebird, Mercury Cougar and AMC Javelin.
And, yes, the original Challenger had a Hemi V-8.
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