Muscle Cars

Muscle Car Talk: The Last Great Dodge Challenger?

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By Mark Weisseg

This Challenger with the 340 V8 had lost most of its punch by 1973. Regulations took command of the performance but what the government types could not take away was styling and beauty.

Don’t get me wrong, the 340 was a great engine with plenty of get up and go. I guess we were all spoiled by the huge monster engines previously built. Once you taste the best wine the stuff at the local gas station just won’t do but, beauty is deep and clearly this Challenger is as sweet as can be. The interior is just one for the ages and the exterior lines are of course used to this very day. The owner certainly has pride and he or she should. The paint gleams with powerful beauty and this car should be at as many shows as possible.

The older generation can remember the so called good old days and possibly the young crowd can appreciate why we love these cars. The Challenger died a slow death and quite frankly it got embarrassing for a while as the name plate was attached to cars that had no right to be called a Challenger. It would be like calling today’s Chevrolet Cobalt a Corvette for a few years. The purist would storm the GM headquarters looking for heads. That is what I always have had an issue with. Today’s version of Chrysler is of course FCA. Fiat Chrysler of course and even before they came along to try to rescue the brand, the companies kept sticking on nameplates from the past onto cars that had to be ashamed to be called that. It was only when FCA really came along with the Hellcat program that loyalist were proud again. But, back in the 90’s when that owner called that little two seater tin can a Charger I was lost at sea.

I am unclear like all of you where this current program is going. FCA Is not the answer but who is? Sure the Jeep and Ram programs are fantastic but the car side is a sinking barge. Obviously FCA keeps banking on the Hellcat and it does appear they will expand that program. Rumors are swirling that the Charger may be getting a two door version which would be a winner of course. I like the current Charger but I still cannot wrap my big long ape arms around something being called a Charger with two extra doors. Sorry, it’s just how I and many others feel. There is also a feeling of quality control in the current Challenger line up. Please study sales numbers from the Mustang, to Camaros, to Challengers and that should satisfy the naysayers.

I want these cars to survive and I want certain cars like the Challenger and Charger to succeed. I am doubtful FCA can do that. They failed with the Dart and the 200. The 300 is a mild but minor success. The new Pacifica is aimed at families and not at our crowd. So what else do they offer. Zilch.

Let’s hope the Charger and Challenger sales increase and maybe we will get lucky that either FCA or yet another owner will build a top quality line up of cars we can be proud of. A company that made bikes and then little crappy cars like the Fiat 500 is not the answer.

One more thing. I was at a huge indoor mall over the weekend. Now, I never go to a mall but I had to go this past Friday. A local Chrysler dealer had there cars all over the mall to show them off and obviously garner some interest. I sat near the Fiat 500 for almost two hours. It was parked near the Apple Store in order to get the young buyers to look at the car. Know this fact. Any mall that has a Apple Store in it is the busiest store in the mall. Period and that is a fact. In my nearly two hours of sitting in a big comfy chair not one person looked at that Fiat. Not one. But the Apple Store was busting at the seams. Ouch and double ouch.

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