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Winnipeg Free Press
Automotive Showcase


Challenger, Camaro face uphill climb to market
Behind the auto show glitz lie real challenges
Fri Feb 24 2006
By John LeBlanc

AFTER seeing Dodge's Challenger concept from the Detroit auto show last month, have you started putting away your pennies in hopes of a production version?

Or what about Chevrolet's similarly mind-blowing Camaro concept? Bet all you longtime Chevy faithful can't wait until the real thing is available so you can go kick some Mustang butt, right?

The Challenger seemed to make its way onto every auto magazine cover, and pre-Detroit show spy shots of the Camaro were hot tickets. You have to think these two concepts have earned their respective companies their weight in modelling clay in free publicity.

But the question still remains: Will these two modern-day pony car concepts make it into production?

The Challenger seems like a no-brainer. Chrysler's SRT gang has a history of doing modern performance cars right. So the production Challenger -- as a respectful interpretation of the 1970 original two-door coupe, draped over the very modern Chrysler/Mercedes-Benz rear-drive LX platform stuffed with Hemi power -- would not only be cool to be seen in but also a guaranteed blast to drive. And with no Plymouth Barracuda to contend with this time, the Challenger would be a singularly unique car in Chrysler's lineup. And what about the Corvette Lite Camaro?

More modern street fighter than all-out retro-mobile, the Camaro brings some serious hardware to the fight courtesy of big-brother Corvette. Right now, the next rung down Chevy's performance ladder from said Vette is the Monte Carlo SS. That doesn't seem right. And doesn't Ford's wildly successful Mustang deserve some natural competition?

If you're a fan of the pony car genre, then it has to be thumbs way up for both of these auto show stars to graduate to showroom status.
But before you put your entire Star Wars action figure collection on EBay to raise the deposit for your new 2009 Challenger/Camaro, think about this: Recent history is littered with cars that generated a lot of auto show excitement, only to be euthanized after being put through the grinding process of attempting to make them not only production ready but also production profitable.

Ford's Forty-Nine, Jaguar's R-Coupe, or Chrysler's ME4-12 quickly come to mind.

If you're a DaimlerChrysler or General Motors bean counter, there's plenty of evidence the chance of these two new concepts making it to the next step -- production -- are slimmer than the return of the Edsel.

Understandable. Because no carmaker wants another Pontiac Aztek, Lincoln Blackwood, Ford Thunderbird, Chevrolet SSR, or Plymouth Prowler -- cars that looked good under the glare of the auto show lights but were production busts.

So, to make it more than a show car one-off, Dodge's Challenger concept has a few, er, challenges before you'll see it on sale.

Like wasn't it Dodge that argued at the launch of its four-door Charger last year that the coupe market is dead? Also, DaimlerChrysler is at full capacity building as many LX cars (300, Magnum, Charger) at its Brampton, Ont., plant as it possibly can. The Challenger's fiscal numbers would have to look pretty good for extra manufacturing facilities to be committed.

The Camaro concept is even less likely to end up in a showroom near you.
At least the Challenger has a platform ready to go. But The General canned a North American version of its new global rear-drive chassis that would have included a Chevrolet Impala, a Buick sedan and the next Pontiac GTO. Unless GM has changed its mind on this decision or it does a Solstice/Sky and puts something together from borrowed parts, you won't be driving a new Camaro any time soon.

Looking at it from more than an enthusiast's perspective, maybe the question isn't will these two pony car concepts make it into production but should they make it into production?

--CanWest News Service
 

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synopsis:

the challenger faces the same challenges getting to market as every other car :eek: .
some other concept cars have been built but not marketed :eek: .
we want to sound contrarian :rolleyes: .
end of story.
 

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Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! That article was funny.:D

They make it sound as though their respective companies can't afford to risk making them. Fact is, DCX and GM can't afford NOT to make them.

Then the article goes on to compare the Challenger & Camaro with the Prowler, SSR and Aztek. What a scream! Might as well compare them to the business case for making a new Chevy Vega.:p

As if either car will have the trunk room of a Prowler. As if either will bear the SSR's terrible value and high base price. Or be plug ugly like the wretched Aztek. The only math necessary for each company to calculate is, with 3 competing pony car coupes, how big is "our" piece of the pie going to be. So long as both cars share platforms with other cars being produced - they can't lose.

Both will be built. This article is trying to force controversy as if these cars won't really be built after receiving rave reviews and a blizzard of requests to build them.

Who wants to bet that the avalanche of letters and e-mails demanding that GM build the Camaro reminds all the GM Beancounters of the same outcry to build the Aztek. :D

Right. Sure. NOT.
 

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I think the Challenger will do far better than any of the "bombs" the guy mentioned. DCX's big, HUGE trump card over all these other bombs is the Hemi. They have done a hell of a job relentlessly promoting the big engine and engraving it into the American conscience. But they only have put it in SUV's, Trucks and 4-Doors. To finally have the badass Hemi in a sexy retro 2-door will make it totally irresistable to many.

All the bombs were very CGI-influenced designs - too modern or cartoony (The SSR looks like something Roger Rabbit would drive) I think Americans are bored with this kind of styling. Even the new T-bird was designed by the same guy/people who did the VW Beetle, and that turned off some old fans. The Challenger looks just like the old Ponycars of the good old days - and doesnt look like a computer designed it.

Most of the 2-seater bombs werent practical enough for Mon-Friday driving to work, school, and shopping. Like a Harley they were just a expensive Toy to pull out of the garage for weekend joyrides. The Challenger can have the same everyday "mild or wild" appeal and sales as the Mustang does, if DCX builds it as a full production car with plenty of powertrain and price options. I see plenty of Mustangs at my local Wal-Mart and high school parking lots. Why can't there be plenty of Challengers??
 

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Being a 6.1-stick Limited Edition will kill a lot of the early demand for this car. Even if DCX does go full production in a year or two, it will be too late to change public perception that its too expensive.

If DCX has so much demand for thier LX cars - has DCX considered building or renovating another factory?
 

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While I very much would like to see the car in my driveway I have to admit I am dubious about it making it to production. I think the article gets it right but for the wrong reasons. I think the accountants have a large say and in the end I'm pretty certain that the Challenger is a "niche" car for a relatively limited market.

Despite all the votes for the 6.1 sticker shock is going to reduce expectations for many. Lets face it, MOPARS have always been more expensive than GM's or Fords. If the 6.1 variant comes in at anything under 35k I'd be amazed. Add in dealer mark up and you'll be looking at a 40k sticker initially. For many that's simply "unobtanium".

The 6 banger or 5.7 is a more realistic economic goal for many - despite what all the teens and 20 somethings on this forum seem to think. When it comes time to get financing or plunk down cold hard cash that'll comb out the dreamers and limit the market segement further. I'll bet that even the 5.7 is a 30-32k sticker.

I think that if DCX wanted to resurrect an icon they might have chosen the Roadrunner. The beepers sold far more copies during their run than did the Challengers. A 2 door DCX Roadrunner might do better - maybe.

Sorry if this seems negative, I would really like to see the car built but I'm afraid that if they don't get it on the showroom floor very,very soon they will have missed the "muscle car bow wave" especially after we get slammed again this summer by hiked up gas prices. In the end I hope I'm wrong.

Rallye72
 

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Rallye72 said:
While I very much would like to see the car in my driveway I have to admit I am dubious about it making it to production. I think the article gets it right but for the wrong reasons. I think the accountants have a large say and in the end I'm pretty certain that the Challenger is a "niche" car for a relatively limited market.

Despite all the votes for the 6.1 sticker shock is going to reduce expectations for many. Lets face it, MOPARS have always been more expensive than GM's or Fords. If the 6.1 variant comes in at anything under 35k I'd be amazed. Add in dealer mark up and you'll be looking at a 40k sticker initially. For many that's simply "unobtanium".

The 6 banger or 5.7 is a more realistic economic goal for many - despite what all the teens and 20 somethings on this forum seem to think. When it comes time to get financing or plunk down cold hard cash that'll comb out the dreamers and limit the market segement further. I'll bet that even the 5.7 is a 30-32k sticker.

I think that if DCX wanted to resurrect an icon they might have chosen the Roadrunner. The beepers sold far more copies during their run than did the Challengers. A 2 door DCX Roadrunner might do better - maybe.

Sorry if this seems negative, I would really like to see the car built but I'm afraid that if they don't get it on the showroom floor very,very soon they will have missed the "muscle car bow wave" especially after we get slammed again this summer by hiked up gas prices. In the end I hope I'm wrong.

Rallye72
I will guaranty you're wrong!
 

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"I will guaranty you're wrong!"


Perhaps I'd me more reassured if you could spell guarantee. :eek:
 

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I think they could build it a la mustang --- but I DO NOT think they are going to make it cause they have been dragging their feet on announcing anything. DCX are a bunch of bean counting wuzzies who are selling cars now and can not afford to have a low or slow selling model added to the line up.
 

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In all honesty, if the car is built, the 6.1 will prbably be a "low Volume" car to compete with the GT500. While the 5.7 and the 6 cylinder cars will be built to compete with the more mainstream Mustangs.
 
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