The Dodge Rebel - once-upon-a-time Neon replacement car

The year was 2004, Dodge Neon sales had been slipping, and everyone knew a replacement was coming. Insiders said the new car would be the Dodge Rebel, a name with Mopar roots that fit with the “big and bold” Dodge image.

Dodge Rebel

The Dodge was to be shown for the first time in March 2005, but DaimlerChrysler leaders had chosen to drop the idea entirely, replacing it with a crossover. Even though small sedans were still much hotter than crossovers — Toyota Corolla sales were ten times Matrix sales, for example — the Dodge Rebel was dropped, and the Dodge Caliber was shown alongside the Jeep Compass and Jeep Patriot, all sharing the same basic chassis.

According to an Austrian newspaper, Chrysler had planned three variants: a sport-wagon, á la Dodge Avenger concept(which likely became the Caliber), a Dodge Rebel sedan, and a roadster to pick up sales. Drawings by Mark Stehrenberger suggested a Dodge Razor-style front end on both the roadster and sport-wagon, while the sedan would be more Charger-like.

mitsubishi lancerThe Dodge Rebel was originally to be designed by Chrysler and Mitsubishi, working together on a common Mitsubishi-Galant-based platform. In North America and Europe, the Chrysler version was to be used, even when sold under the Mitsubishi name. In other regions, the Mitsubishi version was to be used, even when sold under the Dodge name. The Dodge and Mitsubishi versions would have had different interiors, exteriors, and tuning when sold in the same market; one version became the new Mitsubishi Lancer.

For a look at what a Dodge Rebel might have been like, try this Mitsubishi Lancer GTS car review.

The Dodge version of the Mitsubishi Evo was to have extensive Chrysler involvement in the two door; the four door was primarily worked on by Mitsubishi engineers, helped by members of the Neon ACR team, who had enjoyed strong rally and SCCA success.

An SUV version was sold as the Compass; Mitsubishi’s version, which shared quite a bit, was the Outlander. The 2007 Dodge Caliber sold briskly in its first two model years, but then sales plummeted, and the car was dropped in 2012. The Jeep Compass and Patriot did better, and continued through to model-year 2017.

Eventually, the Neon was replaced by the Alfa Romeo-based Dodge Dart, which failed to gain traction in the three years it was given.

See Chrysler history and concept cars • The Dodge Rebel illustration is a conjectural rendering

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