DETROIT -- Dodge harnessed styling cues from the pony car era for its new Challenger concept.
The Hemi-powered, rear-drive coupe draws on design themes first seen on the 1970 Challenger. The Challenger competed against the Ford Mustang in the 1970-74 model years.
The new Challenger concept debuts this month at the Detroit auto show.
The concept is interesting in two respects.
First, under Wolfgang Bernhard's era as the Chrysler group's COO, the design team was told to avoid retro themes for future vehicles, with the possible exception of the next-generation PT Cruiser.
Second, as recently as a year ago, Chrysler executives were saying that the coupe market was dead. Future car-based vehicles would be sedans, convertibles and crossovers.
But the overwhelming success of the Ford Mustang prompted those executives to reconsider.
The Challenger concept is based on a shortened version of the Chrysler group's LX platform. That platform is shared by the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Magnum and Charger.
But the Challenger's wheelbase is expected to be several inches shorter.
The automaker will watch reaction to the Challenger concept carefully.
If reaction is extremely positive, the Challenger could be on the street in about three years -- maybe sooner.
You may e-mail Rick Kranz at [email protected]