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2006 Dodge Challenger concept car

2007 Dodge Challenger concept car

The concept car has a 116 inch wheelbase, while the other LXs use a 120 inch wheelbase; but it’s a custom-made, carbon-fiber-bodied one-off concept car. The 1970 Challenger was 191 inches long (with a 110 inch wheelbase); the concept is 198 inches, and two inches wider than the original. Built by Metalcrafters, it weighs 4,160 pounds.

The original Challenger rode a unique platform (shared only with the Plymouth Barracuda) designed to handle any Mopar engine, including the fearsome 426 Hemi and 440 Six-Pack. The name was later applied to a Mitsubishi import.

The Dodge Challenger was styled primarily by Michael Castiglione, a 15-year Chrysler veteran, based on what people see in the original Challenger - a car with a huge, long hood and a short rear deck. While the LX series have longer hoods than most modern cars, the proportions are very different from the old E-bodies (current designs are much more practical for both cornering and space usage). However, Castiglione used some perceptual tricks, such as increasing the size of the front overhang, moving the rear-view mirrors back, and using a steeper windshield angle coupled with an angled cut in the door to make the hood seem longer. Making the car wider than the LX series (and the original, for that matter) and moving the rocker panels in made the Challenger look more like the original, with its tucked in rocker panels. Despite very different hard points in the design, Castiglione's interpretation looks so much like the original to the human eye that many thought it was the original car and not a new version!

(Steve Kasher talked to Mike Castiligione): Mike Castiglione was up against two other competing designs, both of which were more "sports car than muscle car;" he was told that his design (the one you now see) that wasn't going to go forward. Mike said that he procured a Popular Hot Rodding lamented the appearance of the Dodge Charger and presented his case to Trevor Creed, showing that Chrysler's best fans wanted something resembling his ideas. That made the difference, and Creed agreed.

Dodge Challenger

The concept car itself was built very quickly by Metalcrafters, which builds Chrysler’s concepts; the body is made of carbon fiber, not steel or fiberglass. The car is wider and shorter (in both length and wheelbase) than the Dodge Charger. The wheels are far larger than those of the original cars, though styled to look similar: 20 inches up front and 21 inches in back. The color is original for the concept, though the Hemi has authentic orange paint. The Dodge-provided 13.0 second quarter mile time and 4.5 second 0-60 would not apply to actual production cars, since it comes via dual Flowmaster mufflers with no catalytic converters.

“During the development of the concept car,” says Micheal Castiglione, principal exterior designer, “we brought an actual 1970 Challenger into the studio. For me, that car symbolizes the most passionate era of automotive design.”

2006 Dodge Challenger concept car

The two-door model Challenger takes many cues from the 1970 model (the most sought after by collectors), including floating headlights, ribbed black seating, a hood with black trim, a 6.1-liter Hemi engine with six-speed manual transmission and a pistol grip shifter, and the general look and feel; designers had a 1970 model in the studio as they created a concept. "We wanted to do a muscle coupe that connects with the American heritage," said Tom Tremont, Vice President—Advance Product Design, "but instead of merely re-creating that car, the designers endeavored to build a Challenger most people see in their mind's eye—a vehicle without the imperfections like the old car’s tucked-under wheels, long front overhang and imperfect fits. As with all pleasurable memories, you remember the good and screen out the bad."

challenger rear 2008 dodge challenger
brakes dodge challenger grille

The designers considered the essential attributes of a muscle car to be distinctly American; mega horsepower; pure, minimal, signature lines; aggressive air-grabbing grille; and bold colors and graphics.

hemi engineThe signature side view accent line is higher up on the body, running horizontal through the fender and door and kicking up just forward of the rear wheel. The upper and lower body surfaces intersect and fall away along this line, which has just a whisper of the original car’s curved surfacing. “We wanted to stay pure,” said Castiglione, “with simple, minimal line work, but with everything just right.”

The five-spoke chrome wheels are set flush with the bodyside, giving the car a muscular stance. Wheel openings are drawn tightly against the tires, with the rearward edges trailing off.

One of the key characteristics of the original car was the wide look of both the front and back ends. To achieve this the designers increased both the front and rear tracks to 64 and 65 inches respectively, wider than the LX, wider even than the 1970 model. To realize the long horizontal hood the designers deemed essential, the front overhang was also increased. (These could be problematic if the Challenger goes into production.)

Both the hood and the deck lid of the Challenger concept vehicle are higher than the 1970 in order to lift and “present” the front and rear themes. The front end features the signature Dodge crossbar grille and four headlamps deeply recessed into the iconic car-wide horizontal cavity. Diagonally staggered in plan view, the outboard lamps are set forward, the “six-shooter” inboard lamps slightly rearward. At the rear, the car-wide cavity motif is repeated, encompassing a full-width neon-lit taillamp. Both the grille and the front and rear lamps are set into carbon-fiber surrounds. Like the original, slim rectangular side marker lamps define the ends of the car.

The hood reprises the original Challenger “performance hood” and its twin diagonal scoops, now with functional butterfly-valve intakes. Designed to showcase the modern techniques used in fabricating the car, what look like painted racing stripes are actually the exposed carbon fiber of the hood material. Bumpers are clean (no guards), body-color, and flush with the body. “This is something we would have loved to do on the original Challenger,” said Jeff Godshall, a Plymouth Owners’ Club contributor who was a young designer when the first Challenger was created, “but the technology just wasn’t there.”

Dodge Challenger spy shot rear spy shot

The Challenger concept is a genuine four-passenger car. Compared to the original, the greenhouse is longer, the windshield and backlite faster, and the side glass narrower. All glass is set flush with the body without moldings, another touch the original designers could only wish for. The car is a genuine two-door hardtop with the belt line ramping up assertively at the quarter window just forward of the wide C-pillar. Exterior details one might expect, like a racing-type gas cap, hood tie-down pins, louvered backlite and bold bodyside striping, didn’t make the “cut,” the designers feeling such assorted bits would detract from the purity of the monochromatic body form. But tucked under the rear bumper are the twin-rectangle pipes of the dual exhausts.

Again, the interior of the production car will be very different.

2006 dodge challenger concept

The interior is black relieved by satin silver accents and narrow orange bands on the seat backs. “Though the 1970 model was looked to for inspiration, we wanted to capture the memory of that car, but expressed in more contemporary surfaces, materials and textures,” said Alan Barrington, principal interior designer. As with the original car, the instrumental panel pad sits high, intersected on the driver’s side by a sculpted trapezoidal cluster containing three circular in-line analog gauge openings.

“We designed the gauge holes to appear as if you are looking down into the engine cylinders with the head off,” relates Barrington. These are flanked outboard by a computer, allowing the driver to determine top overall speed, quarter-mile time and speed, and top speed for each of the gears.

inside the challenger concept car

With its thick, easy-grip rim, circular hub and pierced silver spokes, the leather-wrapped steering wheel evokes the original car’s “Tuff” wheel, as does the steering column “ribbing.” The floor console, its center surface tipped toward the driver, is fitted with a proper “pistol grip” shifter shaped just right to master the quick, crisp shifts possible with the six-speed manual transmission.

As the original Challenger was the first car to have injection-molded door trim panels (now common practice), the doors received special attention. “We imagined that the door panel was a billet of aluminum covered with a dark rubberized material,” Barrington relates. “Then we cut into it to create a silver trapezoidal cove for the armrest.”

The Hemi has 425 hp, 420 lb-ft of torque, and a six-speed manual transmission. With its 4,100 pound weight, it can do 0-60 in 4.5 seconds (with 20 inch wheels on front and 21 inch wheels on back), and runs the quarter mile in 13 seconds flat; top speed is 174 mph (limited by wind resistance), while gas mileage is estimated at 14 city, 20 highway, very good compared with the original Challenger and roughly the same as today’s smallest, most underpowered Hummer. Brakes are more effective than the original - stopping from 60 mph can be done in 133 feet.

Challenger is an appropriate name; just as the original rode on a shortened B-body platform (with some A-body elements, called the E-body platform), the new Challenger will ride on a shortened LX platform - with two doors. (The Dodge people have apparently talked about the two-door design as a "flexibility test" for the platform, which sounds interesting coming from the company that produced coupes, luxury cars, economy cars, and minivans from a single basic platform. The real flexibility comes in their ability to build the Challenger on the same assembly line, at the same time, as the other LY models — which would be a major advance, since the body is very different.) It’s also possible that the entire LY platform will be on a slightly shorter wheelbase - in which case the LY would not be shortened, and would be cheaper to engineer and produce.

E8502 added: “From a design standpoint, it's a pretty great work of ‘auto art.’ The lines are just right as to hide the cars size, and it has a glamorous roof-line that evokes fond memories V8 hartops of days gone by. A high greenhouse gives the sides a substantial look of imposing substance. The rear end is flamboyant and bold, with the taillight spanning the entire rear. Dual exhausts showcase the power, and large 18" rims with low profile tires put all that power to the ground. A sleek modern interior with subtle touches of sporty trim help to tell folks this isn't just another coupe... Surely this car is a big disappointment, I mean, what is there to not like about it?”

Challenger discussion forum

Steve Kasher’s impressions from the North American International Auto Show (Detroit) show floor

inside the dodge challenger concept carsThe Challenger Concept just begs to be built. This is pure testosterone. Even the Viper doesn't create this kind of craving, as the Challenger goes from "oh-I-wish-I-could-afford-one" to "omigod-I-could-actually-BUY-one."

Mike Castiglione, a 15-year Chrysler veteran, was charged with exterior design, and it was no easy task. He was up against two other competing designs, both of which were more "sports car than muscle car," and he was, in fact, told it was his design that wasn't going to go forward. As he related the story, he procured a copy of Popular Hot Rodding that covered the upcoming Charger but strongly lamented the four-door design. He presented his case to Trevor Creed, demonstrating that Chrysler's best fans wanted something resembling his ideas and Creed agreed. Thanks Mike. We all love ya for it.

The design is so clearly a Challenger, but there many subtleties to be noted. The soft crease above the rear window (the so-called "hardtop line"). The original crease surrounding the wheel openings is there.

But realities of the LY platform, the hard points, force the designer to create innovative solutions while still being recognized as its namesake. While the wheelbase is six inches longer, the hood is actually shorter. But the illusion is created by moving the windshield's center forward and losing the front overhang where the original hood had a drop off. In addition, the classic bullet mirrors are moved rearward compared to today's A-pillar mountings, adding even more visual length to the front end. Just like the old days.

Inside, you can sense the imagery that Alan Barrington was trying to project: the image of milled billet aluminum covered in black rubber, then cutting out sections to reveal the metal below. The kickout at the bottom of the gauges reinforces the feeling of staring down a cylinder head. The door panels allude to the original's one-piece molded design, but take it to a new level by "carving out" the familiar trapezoidal shape, exposing the aluminum underneath. It's quite an effect.

radio dodge challenger seats

The wheel design was a source of some frustration. Castiglione repeatedly tried to bring the classic Rallye wheel to the car, but it just wouldn't take in today's vocabulary. "It looked too much like a luxury car wheel, so we used the five-spoke." And look closely. Each spoke has a triangular section cut out from its depth that can only be seen from the side.

The fever that rages over the new Challenger will certainly not abate anytime soon. And "official" word or not, all the reasons I've heard to not build this car add up to the same number: zero.

Plum Crazy, please. Thanks Mike and Alan.

Timeline of the new Dodge Challenger

2004

January Planning and design begins for the 2006 concept Challenger.

2005

Feb 1 Chrysler gives the go-ahead to build a full-size running concept and gives the designers four months to complete the clay model and deliver it to Metalcrafters, a California company that builds Chrysler's concept vehicles. The finished concept, its body made of carbon fiber, had to be ready in time for the world debut at NAIAS 6 months later.
April Final exterior design sketches are completed.
April Interior design work begins on the concept Challenger.
June Complete clay model and design specifications are turned over to Metalcrafters.
Nov 1 Dodge debuts the 392 Hemi crate engine in an original 1970 Dodge Challenger at the SEMA show in Las Vegas. Inside information gathered at the show strongly hints that a production version of the 392 will debut in a future Challenger model.
Nov 3 Metalcrafters of California completes the main assembly of the 4,160 lb. Challenger concept model and begins the final prep for its world debut at NAIAS in January.
Nov 20 First spy photos of the Challenger concept appear on the internet. The two unauthorized and undisguised photos were taken of the Challenger while it was being prepped for an outdoor photo shoot.
Nov 21 Dodge formally announces the 2006 Dodge Challenger Concept Vehicle and releases a color drawing of the vehicle. The press release states that "The 2006 Dodge Challenger concept resurrects another authentic American muscle car for the Dodge brand and continues to build on the success and heritage of the HEMI® engine."
Nov 26 Kevin Verduyn, head of Chrysler's U.S. design operations, states publicly that Chrysler currently has no plans to produce the Challenger.
Dec 20 More spy photos of the Challenger concept appear on the internet.
Dec 22 A MPH magazine cover photo leaked on the internet reveals the clearest photo to date of the Challenger concept. The cover was an advance mock-up of the February, 2006 issue.
Dec 27 Car and Driver & Road and Track magazines start to arrive in subscribers' mailboxes, with new photos as well as preliminary specifications of the Challenger concept.

2006

Jan 8 World debut of the 2006 Challenger concept at the Detroit Auto Show.
May 22 The Challenger concept appears in public, driven to two car enthusiasts gatherings in Huntington Beach, Ca. and Newport Beach, Ca.
July 1 Unprecedented public response to the Dodge Challenger concept results in Chrysler announcing that after nearly 35 years, the Dodge Challenger will return as the ultimate modern American muscle coupe. Chrysler Group President and CEO Tom LaSorda officially announces that the Dodge Challenger is a 'Go' and that the all-new Dodge Challenger would debut as a 2008 model in calendar-year 2008. The announcement was made shortly before the Pepsi 400 NASCAR race at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla.
Aug 15 Chrysler announces a contest giveaway for three vehiles each of the 2009 Challenger R/T, 2007 Chrysler Sebring and 2007 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited in the "Dream Car Sweepstakes". Of the more than 24,000 entries received, over 55 percent of the entrants registered to win the all-new Dodge Challenger. The winners of the Challengers were Brenda Freeman of Jasper, Ga.; Evelyn Puett of Plainfield, Ill.; and Phil Sholtes of Grosse Ile, Mich. No one caught the fact that this was the first "clue" that the R/T would not debut until the 2009 year.
Oct 31 Dodge displays a white and blue Challenger Super Stock 392 concept at the SEMA show in Las Vegas.

2007

Feb 13 Dodge announces that Ontario will become the home of the all-new 2008 Dodge Challenger, to be built at the Brampton assembly plant with production starting in the spring of 2008.
Feb 15 At the 2007 Chicago auto show Dodge announces that the production Challenger "will debut in 358 days at the 2008 Chicago Auto Show". A large countdown clock is displayed next to the Challenger concept.
Apr 7 Brampton assembly plant starts production of the first AME (Advance Manufacturing Engineering) Challenger pilot models. Seven build days are scheduled between April and June.
Apr 29 Seven very clear photos of the bare Challenger body frame are secretly taken inside the Brampton assembly plant and leaked to the internet.
June 28 First spy photos of a cameo'd test mule Challenger, taken by Brenda Priddy, are released to the internet.
Aug 19 A spy video of a cameo'd test mule Challenger driving on the streets of Auburn Hills, Michigan, appears on the internet.
Sep 17 Dodge announces that the first three 2008 Challengers off the assembly line, SRT8 5-speed automatic models, will be auctioned for charity.
Sep 26 The first of the three Challenger charity auctions, for dealers only on Ebay, opens with a $25,000 starting bid for Challenger No. 0002. The first details of some of the key features of the SRT8 Challenger are revealed for the first time in the auction listing - the 6.1L engine and a 5-speed automatic transmission are officially confirmed.
Oct 3 Dave Smith Motors of Kellogg, Idaho puts in the winning ebay bid of $175,407.07 for Challenger No. 0002.
Oct 13 Three camera phone images of a completely unmasked production Challenger, taken without permission at a dealer show in Las Vegas, appear across the internet.
Nov 29 In an email to dealers, Dodge announces that order banks will open up on December 3rd. The email states that every franchised dealer will receive at least one 2008 Challenger.
Dec 3 Dodge opens up the order banks and announces pricing for the "All-New 2008 Challenger SRT8", set at $37,995 plus a $2100 Gas Guzzler tax. New details are officially confirmed including the three colors to be offered on the 2008 models (Black, Silver and Orange), a Kicker audio system, 20"x9" wheels, carbon fiber hood decals, MyGIG navigation radio and power sunroof option. In the first day 4,300 Challengers are sold.
Dec 6 First Official photos released of the "All-new 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8". Dodge releases five partial-view high resolution "teaser" photos. In response to persistent rumors that only 5,000 2008 models would be built, Kathy Graham, Dodge Challenger public relations specialist announces "We haven't decided yet. It will be less than 10,000."
Dec 10 Orders for the 2008 Challenger pass the 7,000 mark.
Dec 31 Orders for the 2008 Challenger pass the 9,000 mark.

2008

Jan 16 First photo of an unmasked 2009 Challenger R/T is posted on the internet, caught while being valet-parked. The same day, the clearest photos yet of an unmasked Challenger also appear, a 2008 silver SRT8 model spotted driving on the streets of Michigan.
Jan 19 The second of the three Challenger charity auctions is held by Barrett-Jackson in Scottsdale, Arizona. Challenger No. 0001 brings a winning bid of $400,000.
Jan 21 Chrysler announces that it will build 6,400 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 coupes for the United States, with a few more slated for Mexico and Canada.
Jan 23 A clear spy photo appears showing the center stack and floor console area of a 2009 preproduction 6-speed R/T Challenger. An additional photo appears, shot trhough the drivers window, showing the steering wheel and dash area.
Jan 24 Car and Driver magazine releases embargoed exterior images of the production SRT8 Challenger, some of which are shown on two prototype magazine covers for the April 2008 issue.
Feb 6 The long-awaited world debut of the production SRT8 Challenger at the 2008 Chicago auto show, with a simultaneous debut at the Philadelphia auto show.
Feb 12 Bid opening date on Ebay for 2008 Challenger Number 0043, a one-only B5 Blue model. The proceeds will benefit the Victory Junction Gang, an organization dedicated to enriching the lives of children with chronic illness, founded by Kyle Petty, in honor of his late son, Adam.
Mar 19 Scheduled debut of the 2009 base model and 2009 R/T model Challengers, 2008 NY Auto show.
Apr 15-21 Approximate date for the production start of the 2008 Challenger SRT8.
June Estimated early production start-up for the 2009 Challenger models.
July-Aug 2009 Challenger models due to start arriving to dealers.

2009

Spring-summer Estimated production startup for 2010 Challenger models. Convertible models are rumored, with production possibly starting earlier in the year. A 392 Hemi version is also rumored to debut in a 2010 model year.
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wheelsBruce Kepley wrote: “As a past owner of 14 Dodge Challengers over 21 years, I can say that there is not one line that I would change on this car, which is surprising. This new design was brought to my attention by the guys working with me who are not Mopar people, and out of 26 available people at our company 4 have indicated that they would place the order today for the new Challenger if possible. As the satisified owner of the new Hemi Daytona Ram truck, my projection for the first year would be 200,000 vehicles easily, and quite probably more. The passage of time has proven that the 1970 Challenger was the high point of automotive design coupled with power, and things that would come after it would probably never equal it, given the price range. The very same thought may be true with the new Challenger retro design, since it is so true to character of the Challenger. Guys, it's simple, forget the aerodynamics, if you build it we will come......marketing done.....and I'm a marketing manager by career.”

Richard suggested, “On the front of the hood replace the Dodge Ram emblem with the original D O D G E letters and add the wing to the trunk lid.”

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