Allpar’s informal sources have agreed that there are plans for a new Dodge Viper ACR, debuting for the 2016 model year, possibly replacing the current TA (Time Attack) model. Artist suzq044 provided the following rendering, which uses SRT’s trademark black wheels and a Dodge concept-car semi-rendering.

The Viper ACR may have a mild power boost, but will be mainly a suspension and/or airflow upgrade, to increase track performance and presumably re-set a record at “the Ring.”  Adjustable suspension components for compensation for local tracks is likely, along with higher downforce (to add traction). The old 2011 Dodge Viper ACR also had some of the stickiest tires available, Michelin Pro Sport Cup 2s, and “no compromises” tires are likely for the 2016 as well.

One source said that the old Viper ACR had much more downforce in the rear than the current model, which is why this might be a target.

The release of a Viper ACR at the upcoming aftermarket show (SEMA) appears to be certain, with Dodge releasing the teaser image below. See more of Suzq044’s work.

Engineer Steven St. Laurent noted a new patent filed by Chrysler, covering an extension of stowable seats. The “Stow ’n’ Go” system in Chrysler and Dodge minivans allows owners to easily fold the middle and rear seats into the floor, providing a completely flat surface for moving large objects (or lots of small ones); when not in use, owners can use the under-floor space for added storage.

Like related Chrysler stowable-seat patents of 2014, this one focuses on simplicity of construction and usage.

Instead, using fewer parts, the new seats can apparently be folded forward and down into the floor. In addition, they provide unobstructed space between the bottom of the seat and the floor, for other passengers’ feet and whatnot. (The patent actually provides for more than one arrangement using pivotable couplings.)

Mr. St. Laurent wrote,

Chrysler is seeking to have rear and middle seats in new-generation trucks and SUVs fold completely into the floors — a flat surface vs a 5-10° incline when folding middle or rear seats (e.g. in Durango).  Anything behind the driver seat will be a flat surface.

It is now simpler to drop the seat and align it to the floor tub, without much effort. On this one, the seat back will be the surface of the floor. I haven’t see the latest seats to determine how and why would I use the back seat surface as the floor surface.  It would interest anyone who uses the interior space of the truck or SUV for storage.

[It could also be helpful for using] the rear of the quad-cab Ram truck for sleeping when driving on long trips, by folding the seat and placing a mat on top when switching drivers. In an SUV, flat rear space for cargo is better what I am seeing in any SUV.

The inventors were Michigan residents Walter Holzhueter and Todd McCann. Also see our related coverage from 2013 and 2014.

Italian financial newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore says that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne welcomed FCA’s new stock listing by purchasing 335,000 shares. The stock came from that returned by investors exercising their cash exit option.

Marchionne paid $3.32 million for the stake at about $9.90 per share, the same price Fiat S.p.A. paid for the returned shares.

The additional shares bring Marchionne’s holdings in FCA and CNH to 6.8 million shares; about 0.5% of the total shares issued.

Marchionne’s lead was not followed by Exor, the Agnelli family holding company that owns 30% of FCA. With 46% of the voting rights, Exor is staying on the sidelines.

In February 2015, Marchionne will receive an additional 2,333,000 shares of FCA and 366,000 shares of CNH Industrial. Some will no doubt be sold to pay taxes but Marchionne’s pre-tax stake would be close to 9 million shares.

While the Dodge brothers were so close they refused to open mail addressed to just one of them, the latest Dodge commercial shows, in the company’s words, “John and Horace Dodge battle it out in a century-long car chase that takes them through the history of the brands most celebrated automobiles, culminating in an epic duel between the latest cars to continue the Dodge legacy.”

The ad breaks tonight during Jimmy Kimmel Live, and will also run this week during The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and The Late Show with David Letterman, among other shows (including sports and prime time broadcasts).

The spot highlights some Dodges many people may never have seen. In fairness, while the Dodges were enthusiastic and energetic, the early Dodges were not known for their power and speed, but for their strong engineering and durability (at the price). Those were such important factors to Dodge customers that famed copywriter Theodore MacManus created the word “dependability” for a Dodge promotion.

dodge ads

The Dodge Brothers never made performance cars, as such, and Dodge itself did not either, arguably until the D-500, and even then the brand was still focused more on near-luxury than performance. Plymouth had been equally or more known for performance, thanks to their backing of Lee and Richard Petty, the affordable and potent Plymouth Road Runner (followed by the Duster 340), and the 1964-69 Plymouth Barracuda, which was not shared with Dodge.  Then, in the 1980s, Lee Iacocca allocated all the performance cars to Dodge or Chrysler, with only Dodge getting the top “Turbo III” and “Turbo IV” engines.

See our 1922 Dodge Brothers Touring Car test drive.

For an all too brief time in the 1960s and 1970s, Chrysler was a major player in the Australian auto market. In the end, after some strategic blunders and a cash shortage at the home company, Chrysler Australia was sold to Mitsubishi.

The company has been trying to return, though not with a full line. The most successful brand so far has been Jeep, thanks partly to a booming SUV market — around a third of new cars sold in Australia now are SUVs. Jeep his a record of 2,937 sales, according to caradvice,  up 43% from September 2013 (the gain was partly due to the arrival of the Cherokee, but nearly half of Jeep sales were Grand Cherokees).


Toyota remains #1. Holden (GM) and Ford, once #1 and #2, were at #4 and #5, with 8,804 and 8,551 sales. Jeep was at #10, edging out Mercedes by 137 cars.

Fiat came in at #21 (451 sales).  Alfa Romeo came in at #27 (206 sales — five below Porsche). Chrysler and Dodge were ranked at #31 and #32 (108 and 105 sales), and Fiat Professional at #33 (98).  Maserati sold 51 cars, beating Infinity, and Ferrari edged out Lamborghini by a single sale (10 vs 9) to hit 41st place. A single Caterham anchored the list at #49.

Jeep Grand Cherokee came in at #2 in SUV Large Segment (1,436 sales), three sales behind the Toyota Prado. That one model outsold all other FCA brands, with numerous competitors thrown in.

The Fiat 500 was #2 in the micro-car segment. Chrysler had some “top threes” in two specific tiny segments (Upper Large Car, #2 of 2, and People Mover Above $60,000, with three sales for the Voyager).  Thanks, Hemi265.

Trademark problems continue to dog Dodge.

The Scat Pack trademark is already under fire from a California company and now three marks, Challenger SRT Hellcat, HEMI Hellcat, and SRT Hellcat have been challenged by Classic Car Studio of Brentwood, Missouri.

Just a day after the marks were published for opposition, Daniel Fort, an attorney for Classic Car Studio, was granted a 90-day extension of the deadline for filing a protest (normally, the USPTO allows 30 days). The expiration of the opposition period would have been October 23, this Thursday.

Fort said his client needed more time to investigate the claim and confer with legal help.

Classic Car Studios is a vehicle restoration and customization shop. One of their current projects is what the company calls a “1969 Hellcat Camaro,” a one-off custom project for a customer in Belarus.

Classic Car Studios has not applied for trademark registration for the Hellcat name and does not seem to be using it for a regular product line, suggesting that their opposition is on shaky ground. The request for an extension of time doesn’t require any statement of the reason for opposition, and Fort’s letter to the UPSTO didn’t list any. But it does knock the process back: the new deadline for Classic Car Studios to provide reasons for opposition is now January 15, 2015, a week after the Hellcat trademarks would have been approved.

Ferrari engines: “Imported from Detroit”

Months after unconfirmed reports made it to Allpar’s pages, the power of Automotive News, in the person of reporter Larry Vellequette, pried a key fact from Chrysler executives — that they cast and build “Ferrari” engines for Maserati. As our sister site reported, the engines are actually cast in Kokomo, and machined in the Trenton Engine plant, using a mixture of [...]

Wrangler may leave frame, factory, steel behind

The 2017 Jeep Wrangler may leave its historic steel body-on-frame construction and Toledo plant behind, according to Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne, as quoted by Automotive News’ Larry Vellequette. The current Wrangler has good mileage for rugged four wheel drive vehicles, but poor economy overall, at around 17/21 mpg (depending on model and transmission). Mr. Marchionne said the Wrangler will need to lose weight [...]

Chrysler issues SEMA “teasers”

Keeping a years-long tradition, Chrysler today released a number of “teaser images” for concepts to be revealed at the SEMA aftermarket show in Las Vegas, Nevada. Each brand is covered, though Chrysler has but one car — the 200S. That can be explained by the status of the brand’s three cars: the 2015 300 has yet to be launched, and the [...]

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