The 1999 Dodge Charger R/T concept car
Swoopy, sexy, and insanely popular at auto shows, shown as late as 2004, but never put into production. Why not?
With an exterior designed under Tom Gale and an interior designed under Trevor Creed, the beautiful Dodge Charger concept was supposed to be powered by a 4.7 liter V8 fitted to run on compressed natural gas, putting power to the rear wheels. The supercharged CNG V8 was supposed to propel the 3,000-pound Charger from 0 to 60 in a mere 5.3 seconds, which would have bettered the eventual, real 2004 Dodge Charger Hemi.
The 1999 Dodge Charger R/T caused a lot of excitement, but according to one insider, it could not have been built on the same line as the Intrepid and Concorde, and crash testing would probably have required changes as well.
Quite a bit of work and money would have to be invested to put the Charger into production; and the entire LX project was trashed as soon as Mercedes took over, though it had been ready to go. There was no money to continue the Charger after the takeover - to quote that insider, "things went to Hell in a handbasket in a BIG hurry in both places."
The Charger would have required a substantial investment, with unknown sales numbers - not every sexy car sells in big numbers - and most likely it would have to be a one-off.
The supercharged 289 cubic inch V8 had a traditional two valves per cylinder, with a single overhead cam; it was rated at 325 horsepower (239 kW) at 6,000 rpm, resulting in 9.2 lb/hp. (No torque figures were given.) The V8 was hooked up to a five-speed manual transmission. The front wheels were a fairly conventional P245/45R19; the rear, a radical P295/40R20. Unlike other LH-based cars, the Charger was rear wheel drive.
Compared to the original Charger, the 1999 concept was 16 inches shorter in overall length, and 650 pounds lighter. The CNG system included pressure cells inside a fiberglas storage tank, lined with a gas-impermeable high density polyurethane (HDPE) thermoplastic, wrapped in a mix of high-strength carbon and tough glass filaments wrapped with an epoxy resin. The cylinders themselves were put into a foam egg-crate style container to absorb impacts. The tank could be made flat, while storing fuel at 3,600 psi.
Concept cars are often made so a car’s feel can be evaluated, problems can be foreseen, and reactions of the public can be judged. Some concepts test specific ideas, colors, controls, or materials — either subtle or out of proportion, to hide what’s being tested. Some are created to help designers think “out of the box.” The Challenger, Prowler, PT Cruiser, and Viper were all tested as production-based concepts dressed up to hide the production intent.